Pearl Harbor2001

Director: Michael Bay
Stars: Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Kate Beckinsale, Jon Voight, Ewen Bremner
Genre: Action, Drama, Romance
Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Runtime: 183 minutes

In 1943 John Ford gave the great cinematographer Gregg Toland (Citizen Kane, The Grapes of Wrath) an opportunity to direct his first film. What was intended to be a short documentary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor grew into a veritable epic, framed by a debate between Walter Huston's Uncle Sam and Harry Davenport's Mr. C on the true nature of the Pacific paradise. Hawaiian history, rah-rah patriotism, and arguments over the loyalty of the Japanese-American population are capped by a stunning re-creation of the battle so convincing that feature films borrowed footage from it for decades. Arch and dated, it's a fascinating slice of history that until a few years ago was never seen by the public. Toland's criticisms of the American Navy caused it to be withheld until Ford could cut the 82-minute feature into a half-hour short, removing the history and analysis and concentrating solely on the battle and the recovery. VCI's release features Toland's original cut as well as Movietone News and Universal newsreels of the attack and an unusual Japanese TV newscast covering the 1995 debut of this restored version in Japan. The DVD also features Ford's OscarĀ®-winning 34-minute version, audio commentary by four Pearl Harbor survivors, and Frank Capra's 60-minute 1945 documentary Know Your Enemy: Japan, a more traditionally jingoistic piece of wartime propaganda that was narrated by Walter Huston. --Sean Axmaker

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