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Pearl Harbor  

Directed By: Michael Bay
Written By: Randall Wallace
Starring: Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Kate Beckinsale
Rated: PG-13 (War-time Violence)
Running Time: 190 Min.

In the historical feature Pearl Harbor, Ben Affleck and Josh Harnett play Rafe and Danny, two American fighter pilots training for a war the country may never enter. During this time of uncertainty, Rafe, Danny, and their compatriots come face to face with the fighting man's most dangerous enemy... Love. Yes, our two flyboys are forced to dodge wave after wave of romantic entanglements, but never fail to rise to the challenge. Cupid's well placed arrows strike hit after hit, and Love's casualties begin to mount. Little do our heroes know that, as they suffer the torments brought on by a constant barrage of comely young nurses, the threat of War looms just beyond the horizon.

Pearl Harbor
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It seems that the Japanese Imperial Navy and Air Forces have decided the time is right to pay a surprise visit to the island paradise of Hawaii, and catch our lovebirds, as well as the entire American Navy, with their pants down. Heavy-handed romantic drivel soon gives way to heavy-handed patriotic drivel, as our two warriors must now rise to the call of duty.

I am astonished by the lack of respect producer Jerry Bruckheimer, director Michael Bay, and screenwriter Randall Wallace have shown for history as well as moviegoers with this 139 million dollar fiasco. Granted, Bruckheimer and Bay are known for their flashy, ego-laden action flicks, and Wallace penned Braveheart, an excellent action epic, but I had assumed that, just as Steven Spielberg has done in the past, these filmmakers had finally decided to use the great wealth generated by their past box-office successes to produce a film that would actually be considered an 'important' work. I must admit to having been incredibly naive in that assumption.

Essentially, Pearl Harbor treats it's subject matter in the same way that Titanic did, by hanging a bittersweet romance against the backdrop of a tragic historical event. This is formula moviemaking at it's most blatant, as Pearl Harbor's one and only glaringly obvious purpose is to make tons of money. At least the makers of Titanic understood the importance of the real-life events they attempted to dramatize. If this film is any indication of producer Bruckheimer's artistic integrity, then I imagine his next 'important' project may be his heart-wrenchingly dramatic telling of the Hindenberg disaster, starring Freddie Prinze Jr. and Jennifer Love Hewett as two starcrossed lovers on opposite sides of the Reich.

Seriously, did Bruckheimer, Bay, and Wallace not realize that the attack on Pearl Harbor is arguably the most important event in shaping the latter half of the 20th century? When filmmakers choose to take on a project depicting a true event of such great magnitude, with that decision comes an equal amount of responsibility. The filmmaker is responsible to those who witnessed the event, to those who lived through the event, and especially to those who died in the event, for creating an accurate, respectful, and historically correct account. There is no genuine effort in Pearl Harbor to convey any of these sentiments. Bruckheimer, Bay, and Wallace shamefully exploit the attack on Pearl Harbor, and dishonor the memory of those who fought and died on both sides. If I were a World War II veteran, I would be royally pissed off by Pearl Harbor.

So, instead of wasting nine bucks to see this thing, rent the films
Tora, Tora, Tora! and 30 Seconds Over Tokyo. Taken together as a double feature, they present a more faithful version of the tragic events portrayed in this disgraceful misuse of cinematic power.

Allen J Vestal

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