"Docudrama" about the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941 and its results, the recovering of the ships, the improving of defense in Hawaii and the US efforts to beat back the Japanese reinforcements.
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In the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor, director Gregg Toland is tasked by producer John Ford, both now serving in the navy, to film a documentary about that infamous day. What Toland provided was an 82 minute documentary that featured not only the attack but focused heavily on the local Japanese population's supposedly large role as spies providing information to the homeland. Ford took over the direction of the film and the military eventually released a 34 minute version focusing on the attack. The longer version features Uncle Sam telling the audience how naive America was before Pearl Harbor with recreations of Japanese people collecting information in preparation for the attack.Written by
The 34-minute theatrical release version of this film is a bonus feature on Fox's 2007 DVD for Becoming John Ford (2007). See more »
Showing the events of the Sunday morning attack, the priest at Mass (at Kaneohe, I believe) announces incorrectly that it is the 1st Sunday of Advent. Actually it was the 2nd Sunday of Advent. See more »
The War and Navy Departments, producers of the movie, are credited orally by a narrator. See more »
Special 50th anniversary edition on video released in 1991 is restored to 82 minute length with subtitles added to Japanese language sequences and a descriptive prologue added. The 1943 version was a completely censored 34 minute version with the full version being banned by the US government for being damaging to morale. See more »
Short Version: Dated recreation of the bombing of Pearl Harbor is best viewed in context of its time
I saw the short, 34 minute, version of this film and I'm intrigued by the notion of what constitutes a documentary since so much of this film has been recreated. Essentially the story of what happened on that morning this is brief retelling of what happened, mixed with a rousing warning to the Japanese that the destruction they caused wasn't as fatal as they would have liked.
I'm of mixed minds about the film. Certainly the recreation of the bombing is stunning and had I seen this film back in the 1940's I would have been floored by it since its often a great mix of almost believable Hollywood magic and real life footage. Its so good that its clear that later recreations of the attack like Tora Tora Tora and Pearl Harbor stole shots and sequences from it. Unfortunately these same films, freed of the shackles of having to be a propaganda puff piece, are more interesting to watch. We can get lost in the story and don't need to have our patriotism pumped up.
Its not bad, its just more a curio that should be viewed in context of when it was made rather than as a piece of entertainment or a source of real information on the subject.
Worth a look for those who want to see a snapshot of how the war was viewed during the war, or for those cine-files who want to see where later movies cribbed their shots.
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