To what extent do istorical inaccuracies in the film Pearl Harbor, directed by Michael Bay, affect its reliability for a historian studying the attack by the Japanese on December 7th, 1941? This investigation will be carried out using a combination of Internet and print sources found through the Syracuse University, Jstor research database which will provide historical information on the actual event as well as critiques on the film. Print sources will also be used in this investigation in order to gain knowledge on specific details of the attack to compare to scenes included in the film. The movie Pearl Harbor was studied and analyzed, in order to find the inaccuracies in the film and assess their impact on the film’s integrity as a whole.
Using the sources previously mentioned, in addition to other sources, the content of the movie scenes will be compared and discussed in alignment with the events that occurred in the United States at that time in order to assess the credibility and value of the film for someone interested in studying the attack by the Japanese. Word count: 191 PART a: SUMMARY OF EVIDENCE Movie: Shows heroine listening to the attack on the radio. Pearl Harbor) Reality: Planes did not have long-range radios at the time. (Suid) Location: Opening scene shows Long Island with hills in the background. Pearl Harbor) Scenes show mountains in Florida. (Pearl Harbor) When Roosevelt gets news of the attack he is not in the White House. (Pearl Harbor) Reality: The backgrounds of some locations shown were incorrect and likely meant to set a dramatic mood when in reality hills and mountains would not be seen in Long Island or Florida. (Suid) When Roosevelt was given news of the attack he was in his study at the White House. HISTORY) Timeline of attacks on ships: Shows the Arizona being hit by a bomb before the Oklahoma. (Pearl Harbor) Reality: The Arizona was hit after the Oklahoma. Suid) Appearance of machinery: Japanese planes were shown in black. (Pearl Harbor) shown in green. (Pearl Harbor) U. S. planes were Japanese planes were actually white, green, and red. (World) during WWII were green. (LIFE) Reason behind attack: U. S. planes Vaguely states that the reason behind the attack was due to the U. S. embargoing Japanese oil and in order to stop the embargo the attack was necessary. Pearl U. S. protest of Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931 and negotiations were not slowing their success.
President Roosevelt chose to embargo Japanese oil and iron which threatened Japanese success. The attack was to be used as a solution to the embargo with the assumption that the U. S. would fall back into negotiations with the Japanese and stop the embargo. (Suid) Presentation of President Roosevelt President Roosevelt stands on his own in the film to make the point that nothing is impossible as he is burdened by polio and yet he can still use his upper body President Roosevelt was not able to stand on his own, nor would he have made such a gesture as he did not wish to flaunt his disability. Berish) Doolittle Raid The film shows little of the Doolittle Raid, except for raiders crash-landing in China and being shot at by Japanese patrols. (Pearl Harbor) Reality: In the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Chinese fought the Japanese with economic help from Germany, the Soviet Union and the United States due to Japanese imperialist policies meant to dominate China. (Encyclopaedia Britannica) Doris “Done” Miller In the film, Dorie Miller comforts Captain Mervyn S. Bennion who has been mortally wounded and is even with him when he dies.
Miller is shown delivering the Captain’s last orders to the ship’s executive officer, and then manning a machine gun. (Pearl Harbor) Reality: Dorie Miller was ordered to carry wounded sailors to safe locations during the attack. It was not until later that he was ordered to assist Captain Bennion. Ensign Victor Delano was actually the one comforting the Captain when he died. (history. navy. mil) Word Count: 527 PART C: EVALUATION OF SOURCES Pearl Harbor. Dir. Michael Bay. Perf. Ben Affleck, Kate Beckinsale, and Josh Hartnett. Touchstone Home Entertainment ; Buena Vista, 2006. Film.
Pearl Harbor is a film mainly based around the attack on Pearl Harbor and a love story that develops along the way. The director of the film, Michael Bay, claims to use Pearl Harbor as the backdrop to the story but too often the scenery becomes a focal point. Michael Bay created the movie along with writer Randall Wallace and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, the film is useful in that it provides remembrance of the infamous day for the viewer as well as providing some accurate historical overview of the attack on Pearl Harbor nd the relationship between the US and Japan at the time.
However, the film has many downfalls including inaccuracies, addings only meant for dramatic effect that take away from the reality of some situations, and vague explanations of the reason for the attack on Pearl Harbor along with scenes that do not fully illustrate the horrors of some of the battles. Many of the changes are due to concern with upsetting some audience members and the worry of making too much of a statement to receive historically accurate information. Wetta, Frank. Pearl Harbor by Michael Bay, Jerry Bruckheimer, Randall Wallace. Pearl Harbor by Michael Bay, Jerry Bruckheimer, Randall Wallace (n. d. ): n. pag. JSTOR. web. 21 Jan. 2014. The review of Pearl Harbor by Frank Wetta, which was published by the Society for Military History in 2001, was found through JSTOR. Frank Wetta is an expert in US military history and a Senior Fellow at the Center for History, Politics, and Policy in the department of history at Kean University. Wetta wrote this document as a review of Pearl Harbor, criticizing its inconsistency and inadequacies as well as highlighting ome of the film’s finer, more realistic moments.
Wetta effectively categorizes Pearl Harbor as an invalid historical lesson and works to display its many flaws. With Wetta’s vast knowledge in the area of US military history, his review of the film is credible and does indeed pose valid arguments against the accuracy of events throughout the war and military related scenes. word count: 322 PART D: ANALYSIS over the years. Scenes and variables of the film can easily be seen as counterfactual to the real life instances. Films such as this one have discrepancies which work gainst the proper knowledge of important historical events of Americans today.
Historians such a Lawrence Suid, a PhD holder in U. S. military history, believe the film had “So little of… even a remote resemblance to actual events leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor, the actual attack, or the aftermath, including the Doolittle raid, [is included] that audiences come away from the film with no real understanding of what happened and why’ (Suid). Even the portrayal of President Roosevelt is flawed in the film. A rather grand scene is included in the film in which FDR tells his advisors hat nothing is impossible and then struggles but succeeds in standing up.
This spectacle, in historian Nicholas Evan Sarantakes’ opinion would never occur; “the real FDR went to great lengths to hide his affliction and never drew attention to it, except when visiting the wounded in hospitals”. The film’s inaccurate portrayal of the president is purely for entertainment and only works to create a false image of the man so the viewer can fantasize about his courage and strength. The ulterior motives of the director in this scene compromise the integrity of the film. It is also evident in he film that some character portrayals are simply diluted for the audience.
Roger Ebert, a well-known film critic, states that the Japanese soldiers are oblique and show little emotion or opinion in the film. By doing this, the director of the film, Michael Bay, is avoiding offending audience members of Japanese descent, as well as making too large of an impression on others in the audience. Even in the aftermath of the attack there is no celebration or sign of satisfaction or Jubilance from the Japanese. This allows for patriotism from the audience without anger; however it is also a isrepresentation of the Japanese during this time. ord count: 350 It is evident that the film Pearl Harbor includes many historical inaccuracies throughout. These discrepancies range from small details to large misconceptions and misrepresentations that would compromise the integrity of the film to a historian looking to study the attack. The director, Michael Bay, included some of these flaws in order to enhance the movie for the viewer looking for mere entertainment. These changes while entertaining, are historically inaccurate and viewed by many istorians as great injustices to the magnitude of emotion and intensity of the actual day.
Clearly, this film can only be used for entertainment purposes rather than a helpful or accurate portrayal of the events leading up to, the attack itself, and the aftermath of the attack, December 7th, 1941. It would be beneficial to further study the reasoning behind the inclusion of these inaccuracies in order to understand their effect on the film’s reliability as a whole.