Attack on Pearl Harbor

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Attack_on_Pearl_Harbor_Japanese_planes_view

Since I work there (Pearl Harbor – Ford Island to be specific), I think it’s pretty much a necessity that I talk about it. If you squint really hard you can see the control tower on the far side of Ford Island, I work in the hangars to the right of it!

Anyway, one of the things my coworker and I often rant about, are the perceptions that movies like “Pearl Harbor” bring to this historic site and the events that took place on December 7, 1941. I mean, given the movie, which unfortunately a lot of people take much more literally than I think even the makers of it intended; it seems like all of the island was hammered with Japanese bombs and gunfire, and it was a massacre. Well, yes the entire attack was just that, but on the island (Ford Island) only one person was killed. And the bullet holes in the window panes of Hangar 79, are most likely from American anti-aircraft guns trying to hit the Japanese planes before they reached the ships moored beside the Arizona.

So I guess my question is, how much accuracy do you attribute to movies about historic events? Do you do any additional reading on the topic, do you even care if it’s accurate? I know for me, if it’s about something that I am genuinely interested in, I do go and do the research. I read Monuments Men as well as saw the movie, I am going to read Unbroken before the movie comes out, and I constantly scrutinize any movie that has to do with slavery or civil rights (much to husbands chagrin). As a historian though, I am knowingly biased towards Hollywood renditions, but I guess the main point is that they get out information about history, which is always a good thing (no matter how nit-picky I feel about it all).

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7 thoughts on “Attack on Pearl Harbor

  1. If I’m not familiar with a story before I see a movie, I always research it afterwards. Perfect example: The King’s Speech. Although I’m a self-professed Anglophile, I didn’t know much about King George VI and his speech issues. After watching the movie, I researched quite a bit of it. I’m a history buff, so knowing the reality of the situation is very important to me, but I also enjoy the epic grandeur of (some of) Hollywood’s versions. Other times, they can be ridiculous.

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  2. I’m pretty certain by this point in my life that any movie based off anything else, i.e. a historical event, a book, etc., will not be accurate. I’ve accepted that. Usually, I’m just at a movie to be entertained, anyway. It frustrates me, but I’m the kind of dumb moviegoer that doesn’t care too much in either direction due to the fact that I don’t know enough about the source material to cry inaccuracy.

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    • Haha, I usually try to go into movies with that approach – especially if it is based on a book! And honestly, I am rarely disappointed, I think the last time I went to a movie that was rooted in history, and in an area I am very passionate about, was “Red Tails” and it was Horrible! I was so disappointed because it had so much potential to be awesome, and wasn’t even close.

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  3. I found Unbroken to be terrific and well-told. I hope you find it as engaging as I did. (Some parts were difficult to read due to the subject matter.) Amazing that all happened to one person. I read that Louis Zamperini passed away a few weeks ago at the age of 97.

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    • Everyone I have talked to has had the same reaction you had so I am looking forward to it! And how sad! I just saw a teaser for the movie and he talked in it, but hey – 97, I’d say that’s a pretty good life, especially for all he went through.

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