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).