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Pearl Harbor

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Michael Bay
Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer
Michael Bay
Written by Randall Wallace
Starring Ben Affleck
Josh Hartnett
Alec Baldwin
Jon Voight
Kate Beckinsale
Cuba Gooding, Jr.
Ewen Bremner
Dan Aykroyd
Colm Feore
Tom Sizemore
Jaime King
Jennifer Garner
Music by Hans Zimmer
Steve Jablonsky
Cinematography John Schwartzman
Editing by Roger Barton
Chris Lebenzon
Mark Goldblatt
Steven Rosenblum
Distributed by Touchstone Pictures
Release date(s) May 25, 2001 (2001-05-25)
Running time 183 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $151 million[1]
Gross revenue $449,220,945[2]

Pearl Harbor is a 2001 American war film directed by Michael Bay. It features a large ensemble cast, including Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Alec Baldwin, Jon Voight, Kate Beckinsale, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Dan Aykroyd, Colm Feore, Mako, Tom Sizemore, Jaime King and Jennifer Garner. It is a dramatic re-imagining of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor Naval Base and the subsequent Doolittle Raid and was produced by Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer. Some of its scenes were among the last to be filmed in Technicolor. The film received negative to mixed reviews from critics and the public, despite it becoming one of the highest-grossing films of 2001.



The random article opens in Tennessee, 1923, on by the way two boys Rafe McCawley and Danny Walker are pretending to be fighting the Germans, until Danny's father tells him to come home, and starts beating him because Rafe flew his father's plane without permission. Rafe defends Danny by calling his father a "Dirty German", Danny's father countering by explaining that he fought the Germans in World War I.

Now in the United States Army Air Corps and now First Lieutenants Rafe McCawley (Affleck) and Danny Walker (Hartnett) are experienced, reckless, but talented pilots under the command of Major Jimmy Doolittle (Baldwin). Rafe volunteers to serve with the Royal Air Force's Eagle Squadrons. He meets Evelyn Johnson (Beckinsale), a Navy nurse for his physical examination. Eventually, Rafe and Evelyn start an intimate relationship and fall in love. Before Rafe leaves for England, he makes a promise to Evelyn that he will come back for her. Evelyn and Danny are transferred to Pearl Harbor. In Japan meanwhile, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto plans an attack on Pearl Harbor after the U.S. freezes its trade.

Rafe is shot down over the English Channel and presumed killed in action. Three months later, Evelyn and Danny bond over their longing for Rafe. Soon after (thinking Rafe is dead) they start a new relationship. Rafe then returns, causing Danny and Evelyn's relationship to estrange Rafe from them. After a fight between the two men, it seems the two are beginning to reconcile. The next morning, on December 7, 1941 they are interrupted by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor by Zero fighters, Val dive bombers and Kate torpedo bombers.

The surprise Japanese air raid sinks the USS Arizona (BB-39), USS Oklahoma (BB-37) and many other ships. Back at the hospital, Evelyn seems to be overwhelmed, every once in a while looking through the soldiers seeing if any of the men were Rafe or Danny. Rafe and Danny manage to shoot down seven Japanese aircraft with P-40s using their reckless tactics. The heroes are both promoted to Captain, awarded the Silver Star and assigned to now-Colonel Doolittle for a dangerous and top-secret mission. Prior to leaving, the three attend the funeral for the fallen victims. After, Evelyn meets Rafe where it is revealed she is pregnant, and is intending to stay with Danny since the child is his (although she doesn't want Danny to know about it). However, she explains her life long love of Rafe, stating he was all she ever wanted.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt (Voight) wants to send a message that the Japanese homeland is not immune from bombing. Danny, Rafe and others are to fly B-25 Mitchell medium bombers from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-8), bomb Tokyo, and land in China. The two men succeed in their bombing but are captured by the Japanese in China when their planes run out of gas. They crash land into a rice field, where Japanese soldiers can be seen running towards the crash site. Just as Rafe is about to be shot, Danny jumps in front of Rafe and takes multiple bullets. Knowing that he will not be able to survive his wounds, Danny asks Rafe to have someone else carve his name on his tombstone. However, Rafe, who is seen holding the dying Danny, tells Danny that he can't die, because "You're going to be a daddy." Instead, Danny insists to Rafe that he should be with Evelyn and become the father of her child in his dying words "No, you are." The film closes with Rafe and Evelyn, who are together again, and their son who they named Danny visiting Danny's grave. Rafe with his son are seen flying off into the sunset.



Main cast

Supporting cast


Depiction of historical events

Many Pearl Harbor survivors dismissed the film as grossly inaccurate and pure Hollywood.[3]

The movie was also criticized for the way it "distinguished Americans from Japanese, including the wearing of black clothes, the lack of a social life, family, or friends, and the devotion to warring, juxtaposing these with the portraits of Americans".[4]

The roles that the two male leads played by Affleck and Hartnett have in the attack sequence are analogous to the real historical deeds of U.S. Army Air Corps Second Lieutenants George Welch and Kenneth M. Taylor, who took to the skies during the Japanese attack and, together, claimed six Japanese aircraft and a few probables; however, the film itself makes no mention of or allusion to Welch's and Taylor's existence in history, and the movie's plot involving the leads, aside from their roles in the attack sequence, does not match any other historical account of Welch or Taylor. Some critics consider the presence of the two fictional main characters in their steads a blatant usurpation of the true historical figures' roles. This point, when coupled with what many critics feel is an arbitrary and ill-conceived love triangle plot involving the fictional replacements, led to the accusation that Pearl Harbor was an abuse of artistic license.[5]

Taylor, who died in November 2006, previously declared the film adaptation "a piece of trash... over-sensationalized and distorted."[6]


Like many historical dramas, Pearl Harbor provoked debate about the artistic license taken by its producers and director. National Geographic Channel produced a documentary called Beyond the Movie: Pearl Harbor[7] which covers some of the ways that "the film's final cut didn't reflect all the attacks' facts, or represent them all accurately."[8]

Historical inaccuracies found in the film include, but are not limited to:

Early childhood sequences

  • The Stearman biplane was produced during the mid-1930s while the opening scene of the film is set in 1923, a Curtiss JN-4 Jenny would have been more appropriate, but no flyable aircraft of that type was sourced for filming. Although testing with crop-dusting had begun by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Army Air Service in 1921, the first commercial crop-dusting company did not begin operation until 1924 and it was two more years before it became widespread. The idea of a lone independent crop-duster in 1923 is historically unlikely.

Eagle Squadron sequences

  • While the two main characters are training on Long Island, NY., (non-existent) mountains are visible.
  • Ben Affleck's character is portrayed as joining the Royal Air Force (RAF) as part of an Eagle squadron; serving U.S. airmen were prohibited from doing so, though some American civilians did join the RAF.[9]
  • Ben Affleck's character was based at RAF Oakley; it was a training base during the war, not a fighter base.
  • During the Battle of Britain flight sequences, the RAF Spitfires are shown flying in the standard American four-ship formation instead of the three-ship Vee or "VIC" formation at this stage of the war. Again, this depiction is open to dispute, because by the time of the late Battle, the RAF had adopted the German Luftwaffe Rotte and Schwarm system, known in RAF parlance as the "Finger Four", which the USAF itself adopted as "Four Ship" formation.
  • Ben Affleck's character flies a Spitfire with "RF" side marks- only No. 303 Polish Fighter Squadron had this squadron code and no American pilots served in this squadron.

Pearl Harbor sequences

  • In the film the Japanese aircraft carrier from which the attack aircraft flew featured modern catapults and an angled metal deck. These innovations were not introduced until the mid-1950s; the actual Japanese carriers that launched the attack did not have catapults and the decks were wooden.
  • At the airfield where the pilots are preparing themselves and trying to take action against the strafing Japanese aircraft, Ben Affleck's character erroneously says "P-40s can't outrun Zeroes, we'll just have to outfly them". This contradicts the standard tactics of P-40 squadrons to "outrun" Zeros because of its far faster dive rate. "Outflying" a Zero in a dogfight was considered next to suicidal because of the Zero's high maneuverability. The standard tactic for American and Allied pilots, from the AVG (Flying Tigers) in late 1940 through 1941 and throughout the Pacific War, was basic "hit-and-run". They would dive on Zeroes, get what "hits" they could, and then outrun them (although it could be referring to the P-40s starting from a standstill and having to climb, during which the Zeros would outrun, or, rather, outclimb them). P-40s are shown doing tight maneuvers and incredibly dangerous stunts. The Zero was nimble and was the most feared fighter of the Pacific War until the F6F Hellcat debuted in 1943, and the P-40 was in no way able to "dog-fight" with the Zero.
  • In the film, the P-40N model of the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk U.S. fighter aircraft is shown. Nevertheless, the "N" model of the P-40 was not available to the United States until 1943.
  • Japanese A6M Zeroes at the attack were painted white, not dark green.
  • At the time of the attack, the battleships in Battleship Row were moored in pairs side-by-side, without gaps through which aircraft could fly.
  • The USS Arizona Memorial, which straddles the sunken USS Arizona, can be briefly seen in a pan shot. The memorial was dedicated in the 1960s.
  • The USS Whipple, a Knox Class frigate, can be seen clearly in a background shot of Doris Miller's boxing scene on the USS Arizona. Another Knox Class Frigate, USS Miller (FF-1091) was named for Miller. The Knox-class was not in service until 1969.
  • The models shown for 'battleship row' during the Japanese presentation scene match 'battleship row's' set up on the day of the attack but ships were constantly being moved around, in and out. There were also often aircraft moored in 'battleship row.' The USS Utah was mistaken for an aircraft carrier by Japanese aviator's during the actual attack as much of the superstructure and guns were removed and replaced with wood planking.
  • The retired Iowa-class battleship USS Missouri was used to represent West Virginia for Dorie Miller's boxing match, and was also seen in some other scenes. Iowa-class battleships have a 3x3 main gun configuration versus the 4x2 layout of West Virginia. Also, West Virginia did not have the World War II–era bridge and masts found on newer U.S. battleships until her reconstruction was finished in 1943. The Iowa-class themselves did not enter service until 1943–44.
  • USS Texas doubles for USS West Virginia during the sequences featuring Dorie Miller. Texas is considerably different in design than the ship she portrays, most notably lacking the "cage" masts that distinguished West Virginia and California-class battleships. During these sequences, West Virginia appears moored by herself, but in reality Tennessee was moored inboard (between West Virginia and Ford Island) at the time of the attack.
  • In the attack, two 'Val' dive bombers attack two battleships with 2x2, 2x3 gun mounts and tripod masts, after which a sailor is shown jumping clear of a falling battleship tripod main mast. No battleship lost a tripod mast in such a manner. Not even in the sinking of the USS Oklahoma, which capsized, did a mast fall in such a way as shown in the film. Also, the only two battleships with tripod masts and such a gun configuration were Nevada and Oklahoma, which were moored in different spots.
  • In the film, Miller is shown firing a twin Browning M2 air cooled 50 caliber machine gun. In reality, the .50 caliber machine guns found on the USS West Virginia were water-cooled, similar to the .303 Vickers.
  • A Newport-class LST, recognizable by the twin derricks on its bow, is briefly visible in a panoramic shot. The Newport class was not built until the late 1960s.
  • President Roosevelt did not receive the news of the Pearl Harbor attack by an aide or advisor running into the room. He was having lunch with Harry Hopkins, a trusted friend, and he received a phone call from Secretary of War Henry Stimson. Hopkins refused to believe the report. The President believed it.
  • Admiral Kimmel had received some warnings about an attack but, thinking them vague, did not put his forces on full-scale alert. This contradicts the film's portrayal of Kimmel as a leader railing against Washington's apathy about the Japanese threat.[citation needed]
  • Even though he specifically asked, by dispatch and in person, for all information, Admiral Kimmel never received the secret Magic dispatches that showed vital information. He also never received the famous 14-part message the Japanese were delivering in response to the U.S. "ultimatum" of November 26. Especially not the 14th part which indicated the 1:00 p.m. (EST) delivery of the message and ordering the destruction of the "coding" equipment, even though this had been decoded some nine hours before the attack.
  • The reports given to Admiral Kimmel led him and his staff (as well as General Walter Short, the Commander of the Hawaiian Army units) to believe if Japan did attack, it would be somewhere in the southwest Pacific and not Pearl Harbor. In fact, Washington concurred when Kimmel deployed his carrier task forces away from Hawaii. Before Pearl Harbor was attacked, he had deployed them around Wake and Midway Islands, to deliver fighters for protecting the ferry flights of B-17s to the Philippines (which had a higher priority, and complete access to Magic).
  • The so-called "War Warning" dispatch Admiral Kimmel received on November 27, 1941, did not warn the Pacific Fleet of an attack in the Hawaiian area. It did not state expressly or by implication an attack in the Hawaiian area was imminent or probable. It did not repeal or modify the advice previously given by the Navy Department no move against Pearl Harbor was imminent or planned by Japan. The dispatch warned of war in the Far East. The number and equipment of Japanese troops and the organization of Naval task forces indicated an amphibious expedition against the Philippines, Thailand, or Kra Peninsula, or possibly Borneo.
  • Admiral Kimmel was not on a golf course on the morning of the attack (he was planning to meet Short for a regular game, but cancelled as news of the attack came in), nor was he notified of the Japanese embassy leaving Washington, D.C., prior to the attack. The first official notification of the attack was received by General Short several hours after the attack had ended. The report of attacking an enemy midget submarine, in real life, did not reach him until after the bombs began falling.
  • Dorie Miller's actions during the battle are altered. In the film, Miller comforts Captain Mervyn S. Bennion, who has been mortally wounded by a torpedo striking his ship, and is with him when he dies. Miller delivers the Captain's last orders to the ship's executive officer and then mans a machine gun. In reality, Miller picked him up after he was wounded (by fragments when one of Tennessee's gun turrets exploded) and attempted to carry him to a first aid station; the Captain refused to leave his post and remained on the bridge and continued to direct the battle until he died of his wounds just before the ship was abandoned. While Miller did man an antiaircraft gun, he was never credited with any kills (as opposed to the one shown in the film).
  • In the attack, four decommissioned Spruance-class destroyers nested together are shown being bombed and on fire several times during the sequence. The first Spruance-class ship was not commissioned until 1975.
  • When Dorie Miller is manning the twin .50, the ship moored next to his is a Knox- class Frigate. The Knox-class was not in service until 1969.
  • During the "1940" film montage near the start of the film that explains the start of the War in Europe, film of the twin towers of Köln/Cologne Cathedral in Germany are used while the narrator speaks about the invasion of France. The subsequent clip shows a tank, Pershing tank, firing up a street where the towers of Köln are visible. The only time an American model tank would have been firing in the streets of Köln would have been in March 1945 when the city was captured, and not during the Invasion of France by Germany in 1940. The development of the Pershing itself began in 1942, with the first units arriving in Europe in 1945.

Doolittle Raid sequences

  • The film suggests a submarine captain gave the idea for the raid. In reality, Captain Francis Low, Assistant Chief of Staff for Anti-submarine Warfare, came up with the initial concept, which he reported to Admiral Ernest J. King on January 10, 1942.
  • In preparation for the attack, Doolittle (Baldwin) is shown training the pilots on land in a flat, sparsely wooded valley near mountains somewhere in the American Southwest, In the movie it was filmed at Marine Corps Air Station Tustin. The actual training was done at Lexington County Army Air Base, Columbia, South Carolina and at various auxiliary fields of the Eglin Army Air Field reservation, previously the Valparaiso Bombing and Gunnery Range, in northwest Florida.
  • Several shots of the USS Hornet aircraft carrier depicted it as having an angled flight deck, a technology that was not implemented until after the war. While the USS Hornet was portrayed by a World War II era vessel (USS Lexington), the USS Hornet was an earlier modified Yorktown-class carrier, whereas the Lexington was a modernized Essex-class carrier. The actual takeoff sequence was filmed aboard the USS Constellation, a Kitty Hawk-class supercarrier. The Constellation is much larger than the Hornet or Essex class carriers, making it much safer for the B-25's to take off from. The Japanese carriers are portrayed more correctly by comparison—a few of them did have their bridge/conning tower superstructure on the port side rather than the more common starboard configuration.
  • Affleck and Hartnett's characters are shown taking part in the Doolittle bombing raid over Tokyo in which, as fighter pilots, they would not have been allowed to participate. All of the bomber crews selected for the Doolittle mission came from a single unit based in South Carolina, the 17th Medium Bombardment Group.
  • The B-25 Mitchells shown participating in the raid are "J"-models, although the models used in the actual raid were "B" models and when Hartnett's character complains, "We're using broomsticks for tail guns!" the false tail guns were among modifications made for the mission, because the B-25B did not have a gun position in its tail. It also did not have the "package guns" a few aircraft in the film carried; these were not added until 1943.
  • The Raiders are shown flying in formation from the carrier to the target, while, during the actual mission, each Raider aircraft flew by itself, with an hour elapsing between the first and last takeoffs.
  • Several crewmen on Affleck and Hartnett's B-25s are killed in the firefight with the Japanese, including Hartnett's character. No members of the raid were killed in combat with the Japanese, but the crews of two of the crashed aircraft were captured by the Japanese.
  • The flak over Tokyo in the movie was not as thick as it is depicted. For example, as stated on the Doolittle Raid article, only the B-25 of Lt. Richard O. Joyce received any battle damage with minor hits from anti-aircraft fire. No crewmen were killed during the actual raid on Tokyo.
  • Before launching, it is stated in the film that the task group had been spotted by a destroyer-escort; in reality, they were spotted by fishing vessels.
  • During the takeoff scene, when the camera changes to Danny's nose wheel, you can see the catapults of the modern carrier.

Aircraft of the Doolittle sequence

AAF serial # Nickname Actual type Actual Serial # Registration # Location
02243 B-25J-30NC 44-86747 N8163 Palm Springs, CA
02249 The Ruptured Duck B-25J-30NC 44-86747 N8163H Palm Springs, CA
02261 B-25J-25NC 44-30423 N3675G Planes of Fame Air Museum, CA
02267 B-25J-20NC 44-29199 N9117Z Rialto, CA
02303 Whirling Dervish B-25J-10NC 43-28204 N9856C Aero Traders, CA

Other inaccuracies/inconsistencies

  • The film shows Doolittle training with Rafe's squadron as a major. In reality, Doolittle was not recalled to active service until after the attack on December 7.
  • Mitchel Field is incorrectly spelled "Mitchell Field".
  • Despite Long Island's flat, level surface, mountains are visible in the flying shots over Long Island.
  • Navy Nurse Betty claims to be 17 years old and that she has cheated with her age to be accepted, but Navy Nurses were required to be registered nurses to join the Navy Nurse Corps, which meant three years of prior training and passing a state board examination, unlikely qualifications for any 17-year old. The minimum age to join the Navy Nurse Corps was 22.
  • The ward dresses of the nurses have a different style than the ones Navy Nurses actually wore during World War II, and no nurse would have worked with long hair falling freely about her shoulders.
  • The observation car seen in the train station was made for the California Zephyr, which did not appear until after World War II.
  • The Queen Mary is seen in New York Harbor in full Cunard colors. The ship had already been painted grey and assumed duties as a troopship. By late 1940, the Queen Mary was on her way to Sydney to be fully fitted out as a troopship.
  • The radar monitors shown in Pearl Harbor were of the more modern type which had a rotating dish. This type of radar was not in use at the time.
  • The distinct outline of a U.S. Kitty Hawk-class aircraft carrier, the USS Constellation, can be made out in a wide-angle shot. The first ship of this class was not commissioned until 1961. In the same shot, the sail of a modern submarine can be easily made out.
  • No U.S. Navy nurses would assess whether pilot candidates in the U.S. Army Air Corps were fit to fly.
  • Dorie Miller is shown receiving his Navy Cross on the deck of a battleship. He actually received his medal in a ceremony aboard an aircraft carrier, the USS Enterprise, on May 27, 1942, shortly before the Battle of Midway.
  • There are several shots of three destroyers tied abreast of each other taking hits at their pier. The three destroyers shown are each Spruance class destroyers. The Spru-cans did not enter service until the 1970s.
  • Prior to the attack, Admiral Yamamoto turns a Japanese calendar to Sunday, December 7 to make note of the date of the operation. In reality, when the attack started at 6:37 am Hawaii time, it was 1:37 am on Monday, December 8 in Japan. The date December 7 was used because it is noted by Americans as the date of the attack. The Japanese version shows Yamamoto making note of the December 8 as the operation date.
  • The dollar bill with the overprint of Hawaii did not come out until summer 1942.
  • During the newsreel-style montage of fleet action with the voice-over "Japan continues its military conquest throughout the Pacific", footage of the sinking of HMAS Torrens, torpedoed as a target in 1999, can be seen.
  • During the panning shot of the fleet just before the Doolittle raid, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer is visible in the back. These ships did not come into service until 1991.
  • Yamamoto in real life was missing two fingers. In the movie he has all fingers.
  • Roosevelt claims Stalin begged him to join in World War II. Stalin did no such thing (in fact, at the time depicted, very early 1941, Stalin himself was not yet in the war); however, in the 1943 Tehran Conference, he did press both Roosevelt and Churchill to open a second front.
  • Roosevelt's famous Infamy Speech was severely altered; he also wore his glasses during the speech, whereas in the movie he does not wear his glasses.
  • In one shot, the camera shows a pan over a columned building inscribed with the words "Navy Department". In reality, the building shown is the United States Capitol building, as the rotunda dome is clearly shown.
  • When taking off on the Doolittle Raid, and in the training scenes beforehand, the B-25 bombers can be seen taking off with the wind on their tails. Carrier-borne aircraft always take off into the wind.
  • In a shot of the American bombers flying over Japan during the Doolittle Raid, the Byodo-in Temple is depicted with Japanese women walking in front of it. This replica is in Hawaii. The real temple is a much duller shade of brown. In Japan, this short scene was inexplicably cut from both the theatrical and DVD release of the film.
  • In the scene where Rafe is being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by President Roosevelt, his only other ribbon was a Distinguished Flying Cross from the UK. His only award prior to that was the Silver Star.
  • At 1:53:59, what can clearly be seen as a Zero is being fired upon by American anti-aircraft gunners. However, at 1:54:00, the plane, following that sequence in the film, has mysteriously transformed into a Kate torpedo plane, which promptly crashes into a water tower.
  • The wooden boat shown in the scene going to the Queen Mary is actually a mid-1950s Chris Craft 19' Capri. The blond boards are indicative of post-war wooden boat construction, as well as the wrap-around windshield.
  • In end of the film, Rafe, already home after the raid, is seen receiving a medal from FDR. The raid members were freed in August 1945. However, FDR died in April that year.
  • In one scene, Danny Walker says that Rafe jumped off the barn and broke his leg on a back hoe. The backhoe or backhoe_loader was not introduced into the United States until the 1950's.


Box office

Although Pearl Harbor cost approximately US$132 million to film and promote, it grossed a relatively modest US$200 million at the domestic box office, but it soon earned a respectable US$450 million worldwide.[2] The film was ranked the seventh highest-earning picture of 2001.[citation needed]

Critical response

Pearl Harbor received predominately negative to mixed reviews from critics and the public, earning only a 26% approval from critics on the review-compiling website Rotten Tomatoes although Metacritic give it a 44, meaning mixed or average reviews. While it earned praise for its technical achievements, the screenplay and acting were popular targets for critics. [10]

Roger Ebert gave the film one-and-a-half stars and wrote, "The film has been directed without grace, vision, or originality, and although you may walk out quoting lines of dialog, it will not be because you admire them" and criticized its liberties with historical fact: "There is no sense of history, strategy or context; according to this movie, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor because America cut off its oil supply, and they were down to an 18 month reserve. Would going to war restore the fuel sources? Did they perhaps also have imperialist designs? Movie doesn't say".[11] A. O. Scott of The New York Times wrote, "Nearly every line of the script drops from the actors' mouths with the leaden clank of exposition, timed with bad sitcom beats".[12] USA Today gave the film two out of four stars and wrote, "Ships, planes and water combust and collide in Pearl Harbor, but nothing else does in one of the wimpiest wartime romances ever filmed".[13] In his review for the Washington Post, Desson Howe wrote, "although this Walt Disney movie is based, inspired and even partially informed by a real event referred to as Pearl Harbor, the movie is actually based on the movies Top Gun, Titanic and Saving Private Ryan. Don't get confused".[14] Rolling Stone magazine's Peter Travers wrote, "Affleck, Hartnett and Beckinsale - a British actress without a single worthy line to wrap her credible American accent around - are attractive actors, but they can't animate this moldy romantic triangle".[15] Time magazine's Richard Schickel criticized the film's love triangle: "It requires a lot of patience for an audience to sit through the dithering. They're nice kids and all that, but they don't exactly claw madly at one another. It's as if they know that someday they're going to be part of "the Greatest Generation" and don't want to offend Tom Brokaw. Besides, megahistory and personal history never integrate here".[16]

Entertainment Weekly was more positive giving the film a "B-" rating and Owen Gleiberman the Pearl Harbor attack sequence: "Bay's staging is spectacular but also honorable in its scary, hurtling exactitude ... There are startling point-of-view shots of torpedoes dropping into the water and speeding toward their targets, and though Bay visualizes it all with a minimum of graphic carnage, he invites us to register the terror of the men standing helplessly on deck, the horrifying split-second deliverance as bodies go flying and explosions reduce entire battleships to liquid walls of collapsing metal".[17] In his review for The New York Observer, Andrew Sarris wrote, "here is the ironic twist in my acceptance of Pearl Harbor-the parts I liked most are the parts before and after the digital destruction of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese carrier planes" and felt that "Pearl Harbor is not so much about World War II as it is about movies about World War II. And what's wrong with that?"[18]

The soundtrack for the 2004 film Team America: World Police contains a song entitled End Of An Act. The lyrics "Pearl Harbor Sucked (And I Miss You)" equate the singer's longing to how much "Michael Bay missed the mark when he made Pearl Harbor" which is "an awful lot, girl". The ballad contains other common criticisms of the film, concluding with the rhetorical question "Why does Michael Bay get to keep on making movies?"[19]

Director Michael Bay responded to Ebert's criticism of his film: "He commented on TV that bombs don't fall like that. Does he actually think we didn't research every nook and cranny of how armor-piercing bombs fell? He's watched too many movies. He thinks they all fall flat — armor-piercing bombs fall straight down, that's the way it was designed! But he's on the air pontificating and giving the wrong information. That's insulting!"[20]

Home media

A two-disc Commemorative 60th Anniversary Edition was released on December 4, 2001. This release included the feature on disc one, and on disc two, Journey to the Screen, a 47-minute documentary on the monumental production of the film, Unsung Heroes of Pearl Harbor, a 50-minute documentary on little-known heroes of the attack, a Faith Hill music video, and theatrical trailers.

A Pearl Harbor DVD gift set that includes the Commemorative Edition two-disc set, National Geographic's "Beyond the Movie" feature, and a dual-sided map was released concurrently on December 4, 2001.

A deluxe Vista Series edition of the film was released on July 2, 2002. It contained an extended, R-rated cut of the film with numerous commentaries from the cast and crew alongside a few "easter eggs". The extended cut of the film included the re-insertion of graphic carnage during the central attack (including shots of eviscerated bodies being torn apart by strafing, blood, flying limbs and so forth); small alterations and additions to existing scenes; Doolittle addressing the pilots before the raid; and the replacement of the campfire scene with a scene of Doolittle speaking personally to Rafe and Danny about the value of friendship; it runs at 184 minutes compared to the 183 minutes of the theatrical cut.

This elaborate package, which called "the most extensive set released comprising of only one film" includes four discs of film and bonus features, a replication of Roosevelt's speech, collectible promotional postcards, and a carrying case that resembles a historic photo album. The bonus features include all the features included in the commemorative edition, plus additional footage. Three audio commentaries: 1) Director and film historian, 2) Cast, and 3) Crew. Other features include The Surprise Attack - a multi-angle breakdown of the film's most exciting sequence (30 minutes), which includes multiple video tracks (such as pre-visualization and final edit) and commentaries from veterans; Pearl Harbor Historic Timeline - a set-top interactive feature produced by documentarian Charles Kiselyak (68 minutes); Soldier's Boot Camp - follows the actors as they take preparation for their roles to an extreme (30 minutes)), One Hour Over Tokyo and The Unsung Heroes of Pearl Harbor - 2 History Channel documentaries; Super-8 Montage - a collection of unseen super-8 footage shot for potential use in the movie by Michael Bay's Assistant, Mark Palansky; Deconstructing Destruction - an in-depth conversation with Michael Bay and Eric Breving (of Industrial Light and Magic) about the special effects in the movie; and Nurse Ruth Erickson interview.

On December 19, 2006, a 65th Anniversary Commemorative Edition high-definition Blu-Ray Disc was released.


At the 2002 Academy Awards, Pearl Harbor was nominated for four awards, winning one for Sound Effects Editing. Its other nominations were for Best Sound, Best Visual Effects, and Best Song.[21]

At the Golden Globe awards it was nominated for best original score and best song.

At the 2001 Golden Raspberry Awards Pearl Harbor was nominated for six awards: Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screenplay, Worst Screen Couple, Worst Actor (Ben Affleck), and Worst Remake or Sequel (presumably of the 1970 film Tora! Tora! Tora!); but lost to Tom Green's Freddy Got Fingered in all but the latter category, wherein it lost to Tim Burton's version of Planet of the Apes.



  1. ^ "Pearl Harbor." The Numbers, Nash Information Services, LLC, 1997–2009. Retrieved: March 26, 2009.
  2. ^ a b "Pearl Harbor (2001)." Box Office Mojo, 2009. Retrieved: March 25, 2009.
  3. ^ Suid, Lawrence. "Pearl Harbor: Bombed Again". Naval History August 2001, Vol. 15, No. 4 (United States Naval institute), p. 20. Suid's article is particularly detailed in the major factual misrepresentations of the film and the impact of them, even in an entertainment film.
  4. ^ Mackie, Ardiss and Bonny Norton. "Revisiting Pearl Harbor: Resistance to Reel and Real - Events in an English Language Classroom." Canadian Journal of Education, 29, 1, p. 8. Retrieved: March 26, 2009.
  5. ^ Padilla, Lyle F. and Raymond J. Castagnaro. "Medal of Honor Recipients/Nominees Portrayed On Film: Hollywood Abominations, Pearl Harbor (2001)." History, Legend and Myth: Hollywood and the Medal of Honor, 2009. Retrieved: March 26, 2009.
  6. ^ Sullivan, Patricia. "Kenneth Taylor; Flew Against Pearl Harbor Raiders." Washington Post, December 12, 2006. Retrieved: March 26, 2009.
  7. ^ "Beyond the Movie: Pearl Harbor." National Geographic Society, 2001 Retrieved: March 26, 2009.
  8. ^ "Beyond the Movie: Pearl Harbor (2001) (TV)." IMdB Profile, 1990–2009. Retrieved: March 26, 2009.
  9. ^ "Eagle Squadrons". 
  10. ^ "Review: Pearl Harbor (2001)." Retrieved: March 25, 2009.
  11. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Pearl Harbor." Chicago Sun-Times, May 25, 2001. Retrieved: June 25, 2009.
  12. ^ Scott, A.O. "Pearl Harbor: War Is Hell, but Very Pretty." The New York Times, May 25, 2001. Retrieved: June 25, 2009.
  13. ^ Clark, Mike. "Pearl Harbor sputters — until Japanese show up." USA Today, June 7, 2001. Retrieved: June 25, 2009.
  14. ^ Howe, Desson. "Pearl Harbor: Bombs Away." Washington Post, May 25, 2001. Retrieved: June 25, 2009.
  15. ^ Travers, Peter. "Pearl Harbor." Rolling Stone, June 21, 2001. Retrieved: June 25, 2009.
  16. ^ Schickel, Richard. "Mission: Inconsequential." Time, May 25, 2001. Retrieved: June 25, 2009.
  17. ^ Gleiberman, Owen. "Jarhead." Entertainment Weekly, June 1, 2001. Retrieved: June 25, 2009.
  18. ^ Sarris, Andrew. "Shrek and Dreck? Well, Not Quite." The New York Observer, June 10, 2001. Retrieved: June 25, 2009.
  19. ^ "Team America: End of an act lyrics." Retrieved: March 25, 2009.
  20. ^ "Michael Bay." IMDb Profile, 2009. Retrieved: March 25, 2009.
  21. ^ Awards


  • Kimmel, Husband E. Kimmel's Story. Washington, D.C.: Henry Regnery Co., 1955.
  • Sunshine, Linda and Antonia Felix, eds. Pearl Harbor: The Movie and the Moment. New York: Hyperion, 2001. ISBN 0-7868-6780-9.
  • Winchester, Jim, ed. Aircraft of World War II (The Aviation Factfile). London: Grange Books, 2004. ISBN 1-84013-639-1.

External links

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