A inlet on the island of Oahu in the United States state of Hawaii. An attack on the naval base there on December 7, 1941 caused the United States to join World War II.

Shortly after the movie came out, I saw a political cartoon portraying the different view points from a teenager and a veteran.
One side was the vet saying something about the horrors of Pearl Harbor. The teenager is on the other side saying "The special effects were awesome." At the bottom is the caption, "How Pearl Harbor will be remembered."
With this in mind, I saw the movie on Memorial Day. The battle sequence was very well done. It did show how much destruction the Japanese caused and revealed the death and carnage not only on the ships and ground, but also in the hospital.
The love story aspect of it was different for a war movie. Saving Private Ryan had a love in it, the brotherhood that forms between men. This movie had it, but it also had a love triangle with Ben Affleck. However, the war and love scenes were separated so it seemed that the war memories were not desecrated by a Ben Affleck love story.

The thing that annoyed me about this film was that it was wildly disjointed. It is formed from three main sections: the pre-amble, wherein the characters are introduced, and the basic romances are explained. Then, the film 'seamlessly' segues into a battle sequence: 40 minutes of gratuitous explosions and flying dummies, with Ben and Josh getting to fly and save the nation at the end. Finally, there is a retaliatory raid by America, which exists solely to allow 'merkins not to feel bad about losing the main battle.

The first section is by far and away the best, with the pilots and nurses introduced. The friendship between the two main characters is introduced. However, this is visibly strained as Rafe (Ben Affleck) is picked for Eagle Squadron (the American volunteer unit of pilots based in Britain, flying spits). This provides a platform for my favourite character of the entire film, the English squadron leader, who was plucked whole, waxed moustache and all, from a Biggles book. Isn't it nice how there were no kamikaze pilots, as it's unacceptable to stereotype the Japanese, but to stereotype Englishmen is fine? Rafe flies in the Battle of Britain, but is shot down over the Channel. Danny (Josh Hartnett) breaks the tragic news to Evelyn, his girlfriend. There is barely any bond between the two, but it grows gradually, until they finally consummate their passion in a parachute hangar. Yet this serenity is soon to be shattered. Rafe returns from Europe. He was picked up by a French fishing vessel, and has spent some time behind enemy lines in the occupied zone of France.

Rafe returns to Pearl Harbour, where he meets up with Evelyn as soon as possible. But he senses there is something wrong. He turns around and spots Danny, and makes the obvious mental leap. The two have a fairly tumultuous punch-up, although it's not a patch on Bridget Jones. They are both lying in a drunken stupor on the floor of Danny's car on the beach the next morning when planes roar overhead.

Here begins 40 minutes of explosions. The effects are, as noted, superb, but sadly somewhat hollow. For all the bangs and stage blood, it is impossible to lose the feeling that it doesn't really matter that much. The sinking of the battleships is impressive, but unmoving.

Although Ben and Josh do get some dog-fighting action against Zeros towards the end of this section, it is likewise unfulfilling. Although the pilots are warned that the enemy fighters are far faster than theirs, they seem to be able to outfly them with consummate ease. Likewise, their friends on the ground have the ability to down fast-moving aircraft with small arms fire. Whilst the effects are again, first-rate, with realistic tracer rounds every seven shots (yes, I was counting, okay?), it just feels wrong.

Yet even this is far better than the monstrosity tacked on the end. Rather than admit that they lost the battle of Pearl Harbor, America then decides to say 'look, we are competent, really!'. First, the Japanese have a conversation in which when complimented on his win, the Admiral states that they have simply awakened a sleeping giant. I actually cringed and moaned out load at that. Then, the two pilots are promoted, and told that they are to lead a dangerous mission. This goes ahead, causing further collective-ego-massage. Then, reaching China on the way out (but with some slightly dodgy landings), all the airmen suddenly and miraculously become James Bond, able to kill with one shot using a pistol. The crew of two B-25s (minus one for Danny, who has the good grace to die), ie at most 13, take on a platoon of Japanese riflemen. And win.

Being that today is the 60th aniversary of Pearl Harbor, I felt compelled to node some extra thoughts about it.

In some of the latest news, President Bush is considering whether or not to promote the commanding officers, Adm. Husband E. Kimmel and Gen. Walter C. Short should regain the ranks they attained before Pearl Harbor.

Following the attack, there was an investigation trying to place the blame on the attack on someone, and it fell on the commanding officers. They were demoted in rank and remained at that rank still today.

Events leading up to the "day that shall live in infamy"
11/26: A Japanese fleet under the command of Vice-Admiral Chuichi Nagumo leaves the Kurile Islands for Hawaii. Their orders: Attack the US at Pearl Harbor. The fleet maintains radio silence to avoid detection

12/1: FDR returns from a vacation in Georgia, anticipating that a Japanese attack is imminent somewhere in the Pacific. The Imperial conference in Tokyo decides that Japan should declare war on the US, the UK, and the Netherlands.

12/2: Vice-Admiral Nagumo recieves his go-ahead to proceed with the attack. The US intercepts a message ordering the destruction of all codes and code-breaking systems.

12/3: The Japanese fleet stops for refueling in the Pacific one last time before attacking.

12/7: Pearl Harbor is attacked
  • 0610: First wave of Japanese aircraft launched for attack.
  • 0700: First wave of Japanese aircraft detected by the Opana Radar Station.
  • 0715: Second Wave of Japanese aircraft launched.
  • 0720: Japanese planes misidentified as B-17 bombers from the mainland US. Opana ordered to shut down.
  • 0739: Opana loses aircraft in "dead zone" caused by local terrain.
  • 0740: First wave sights Oahu, deployment begins.
  • 0749: Order to attack issued to all Japanese fighters.
  • 0753: "TORA TORA TORA" Surprise attack successful on Pearl Harbor
  • 0755: Japanese dive bombers attack US airfields. Torpedo planes begin their attack on Pearl Harbor.
  • 0800: B-17's from the mainland arrive in Oahu. Planes are caught between enemy and friendly fire.
  • 0808: KGMB interrupts radio broadcast, orders for all Navy, Air Force, and Marine personnel to report for duty.
  • 0810: USS Arizona bombed. Munitions stored in forward part of ship detonate, ship is sunk within nine minutes.
  • 0815: KGMB broadcasts orders for all military personnel to report for duty a second time.
  • 0830: Third call for military broadcast on all local radio stations.
  • 0850: Lt. Commander Shimazaki orders deployment of second wave over military bases in Oahu.
  • 0854: Second wave attacks. Bombers attack Naval air stations and ships in Pearl Harbor. Fighters maintain air control and hold off US air resistance.
  • 0900: Dutch liner Jagersfontein joins the fight on the side of the US. Orders for people to return home broadcast over all radio stations. "This is the real McCoy."
  • 1000: First wave returns to Japanese fleet stationed north of Oahu.
  • 1100: Schools in Oahu ordered to close.
  • 1115: Governor Poindexter issues state of emergency on local radio.
  • 1142: Army orders all radio stations to go off the air.
  • 1230: Honolulu police raid Japanese Embassy. Many documents contained there are burned. Army orders a blackout to occur at sundown.
  • 1240: Governor Poindexter confers with FDR about martial law. Both agree martial law is necessary to maintain order.
  • 1330: Japanese fleet retreats. Blackouts ordered every night until further notice.
  • 1625: Martial law declared.
12/8: FDR asks Congress for a formal declaration of war against Japan.

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