on 4 February 2011
I would full heatedly agree with the other very favourable reviews of both content and picture quality. No one seems to have mentioned that on the Blu-ray there is an excellent collection of ten short Fox Movietonews Items. The documentary 'A day of Infamy' which was on the DVD is also included. Also 'History vs Hollywood Tora Tora Tora A giant Awakes' and 'AMC Backstory' which tell of the making of and that for once how the American Studio tried to truthfully recreate what had actually happened rather than pervert the path of truth to show how heroic and single handed Americans had won the last war. You have to remember that this film was made before the days of CGI and real planes were built specially for the film. The next evening after watching Tora Tora Tora I watched 'Pearl Harbour',it's too much love story /relationships and though the attack on Pearl Harbour is more dramatic, is does rather look like an arcade game! Highly recommended to those who like the film and worth the upgrade from DVD especially for the very interesting extras.
20th Century Fox's genuinely spectacular account of the attack on Pearl Harbor told from both the American and Japanese viewpoints was possibly in real terms an even bigger financial disaster for the studio than Cleopatra: even by latter-period roadshow standards, reminding American audiences of the incredible catalogue of blunders and incompetence that led to the Day of Infamy at a time when they were in the midst of another war in Asia (and one that was not going well) seems like business decision making at its most kamikaze. The film has probably made more money out of being carved up for stock footage than it ever did in the cinema, featuring prominently in Midway, Pearl, Australia, the TV version of From Here To Eternity and both The Winds of War and War and Remembrance among others.
Like Cleopatra, it was a troubled production: Akira Kurosawa worked on the Japanese side of the film for months but delivered only one brief scene in the finished film before being replaced by two more special effects friendly directors (Toshio Masuda and Kinji Fukasaku) while on the American side Richard Fleischer relied on Ray Kellog and Robert Enrietto to shoot much of the spectacular finale. To add to their woes, several politicians complained about the use of Naval and military personnel and the aircraft carrier Yorktown in the film, one even going so far as to try to get a change in the law to prevent filmmakers being allowed to use them in the future, with the studio having to take out adverts in newspapers during filming to reassure the public the film wasn't anti-American but a reminder of the need for constant vigilance. The critics weren't kind and, to cap it all, the film's losses led to studio head Richard D. Zanuck being fired by his own father Darryl F. Zanuck, who would in turn be forced out of the studio a few months later.
From the last days when films were consciously visually designed for the Scope screen, it is mounted on a scale that would be inconceivable today - what Pearl Harbor did with CGi it did with real ships and aircraft - with a tight, focused script that dispenses with fictional sub-plots (no Ben Affleck winning the Battle of Britain single-handed here) in favour of absolute historical accuracy. Seen entirely from the military and political mindset, it has the edge on most cinematic exercises in battlefield history through the conviction of its direction, particularly the visually impressive Japanese sequences, and of its playing. With the exception of Soh Yamamura and E.G. Marshall, most of the top-liners are barely in the film, but the large ensemble cast copes surprisingly well with the task of having to embody attitudes and impart information rather than working on clearly defined characters, adding the colour as they find it in the gaps. Perhaps most surprising is the incredible degree of tension the film manages to achieve in the run-up to the attack despite the inevitability of the outcome. When it finally comes, the special effects are among the best ever seen on the screen. Jerry Goldsmith's score is also a major plus, relentlessly building menace and tension as the film races toward the inevitable.
While the previous DVD issue was pretty threadbare, the Cinema Reserve edition has a number of features covering both the making of the film and the real attack itself, although a 20-minute featurette from the first US DVD release but dropped from the original PAL release, Day of Infamy, has still not been included (it can be found on the US two-disc version, however).
Fox's Region A, B and C Blu-Ray offers both the 145-minute US version and the 149-minute Japanese version, which gives the main directorial credit to Toshio Masuda and Kinji Fukasaku and adds two scenes that really should have stayed in the international version: one a very solemn sequence where a minister prepares Admiral Yamamoto for a ritual meeting with the Emperor about the impending war all too aware that both men opposed it and are reluctant to fulfil their ceremonial roles while another features two Japanese galley cooks talking about crossing the international date line, the consequences of which only became clear in the aftermath of the attack. It also features all the extras from the two-disc DVD, including the Richard Fleischer/Stuart Galbreith audio commentary that isn't mentioned on the packaging and the historical featurette Day of Infamy that wasn't included on the international DVD releases as well as 91-minute and 22-minute documentaries on the making of the film, 10 Movietone newsreel extracts dealing with the attack and its aftermath, stills galleries and a fullframe theatrical trailer. It's easily the best home video presentation of the film to date.
on 7 February 2012
I won't bother mentioning the content itself - you all already know it's the best film account of the attack on Pearl Harbour yet made.
What I will say is that this is an absolutely stunning Blu-Ray. If you want to count the individual rivets on the aircraft in the background of shot, or decide the quality of cotton used in a uniform, this is the edition for you. It is so crisp and detailed it is the closest thing to actually being on the set as they filmed it. I can't believe that sitting in a cinema with a virgin print on the first day of release you would have had a better picture.
I wish all Blu-Ray releases of classic war movies were like this one.
This is an absolutely fascinating historical journey told with great accuracy and nuance. It examines how all the intricate parts interacted to create first the debacle that was the Pearl Harbor attack to the coming war that utterly ruined Japan for a generation. In a deeper sense, the story is about the collision of two cultures that couldn't be more different, with catastrophic results.
The sophistication of the presentation is truly wonderful, with psychological nuance in the doubts and bravado of Japanese power brokers and a comedy of errors on the American side. The portraits of the Japanese leaders are balanced, ignoring no complexity and studying their characters. The army has more of less taken control, pushing their diplomats into an ill-considered alliance with fascist Germany, which came to distort the image of a militarist/nationalist Japan into something much worse (and inaccurate). The emperor's family is weak, fantasy prone, and complicit, while the rank and file are convinced that their fighting spirit makes them superior to decadent Americans. Fascinatingly, it is the commanding admiral who wants to avoid the army-led war, though he dutifully prepares a daring attack on the US navy's principal base in the Pacific, PH.
On the American side, there are many complacent skeptics, but others who appear nearly prescient in their fears. Many small decisions are made - to place fighter aircraft in the center of the airfield to protect them from sabotage, but rendering them vulnerable to air attack - that add up to a total lack of preparedness. Some flacks even picked up the Japanese attack squadron on radar, which their immediate superiors blithely chose to ignore. Many US leaders sensed something was coming, but could not effectively mount a lasting defense.
The film ends ominously for the Japanese. While claiming a decisive tactical victory, a diplomatic flub up (a slow typist delayed the declaration of war until 1 hour after the attack) threatened to "awaken the giant" of American military might with righteous rage. The result was a gigantic war of attrition, which the Americans were bound to win.
I remember seeing this as a child, expecting a war film and getting diplomacy for the first 2 hours instead. The end battle is spectacular, but for a kid was too long in coming. As an adult steeped in history, it is the greatest feast of detail. That makes this, for the time, a daring accomplishment, when what sold was John Wayne mythology rather than accurate history.
"Tora! Tora! Tora!" is the story of the attack on Pearl Harbor as told from both the American and Japanese sides in almost a documentary style. The American segments were directed by Richard Fleischer while Kinji Fukasaku ended up replacing Akira Kurosawa for the Japanese segments. Both sides of the story are played out not so much by an all-star cast as a collection of some of these best character actors on both side of the Pacific: Martin Balsam, E.G. Marshall, Jason Robards on the one hand, Soh Yamamura, Tatsuya Mihashi and Takahino Tamura on the other.
The counter-point between the two sides of the story is quite effective, with the careful planning, preparation and execution of the attack by the Japanese contrasted with the chain of fatal mistakes made by the Americans. As a historical primer on the attack the film covers all of the excruciatingly painful details, from the radar operators dismissing the large incoming blip on their screens to General Marshall out riding his horse at the absolutely worst time, from a stubborn insistence upon "confirmation" of submarine sightings to the fumbling typist in the Japanese embassy trying frantically to complete his final message that must be delivered before the attack begins.
E. G. Marshall as Colonel Rufus G. Bratton gets the Cassandra role in this film, the intelligence officer convinced there is going to be an attack but who cannot get anyone to listen to him until it is too late. However, the film is so balanced in its presentation that you cannot help but feel for Ambassador Nomura, who misses the deadline and must still deliver the fatal letter to Secretary of State Cordell Hull. "Tora! Tora! Tora!" certainly achieved its goal of being a film that could be played in both countries without complaints from either side. I find it hard to believe that the upcoming theatrical release of "Pearl Harbor" would even come close to this standard.
This is the first film to focus primarily on the Pearl Harbor attack, with previous efforts using the battle as the start ("In Harm's Way") or the end ("From Here to Eternity") of a more personal journey. "Tora! Tora! Tora!" somewhat disproves the old adage, because not only does it show the "many fathers of success" on the Japanese side, it quite clearly refutes the idea "failure is an orphan" by laying the blame clearly on their American military counterparts.
This is by no means a controversial telling of the tale, so you will not find anything suggesting FDR knew about the attack and allowed it to make Americans angry enough to go to war. This is a film purporting to show "what really happened" and leaves notions of heroism up to the audience. In keeping with this approach, the importance of this particular moment in history is underscored not by angry Americans shouting "Remember Pearl Harbor!' but by Admiral Yamamoto's understatement: "I fear all we have down is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."
Final note: Several stunt people were killed during the filming of "Tora! Tora! Tora!," and it is difficult to watch some of the stunts involving planes crashing into each other without wondering if what you are seeing is one of the stunts from which someone did not walk away. This is ironically appropriate given the film's subject matter.
on 19 June 2011
This is one of my favourite war films of all time. It gives a true depiction of what happened prior to America entering the war.There are no sub-plots or romantic interests in any way, just the events that occurred. The people who argue that the Americans knew it was going to happen is pretty much confirmed in the way that the intelligence was treated and subsequently ignored.
Conversion to bluray is ok but don`t expect much better than dvd quality. If you have it on dvd already i wouldn`t bother going for bluray unless you have too.
Still a great war film.....a must have for anyone interested in that period of history.
on 6 April 2007
to say this movie is great, is not enough it is one of the few movies on
the pacific war, that shows both american and japanese as human beings.
you see the friendship, humility and by splitting direction between an american and japanese you get a sense of balance. the japanese are not the grinning psychos you see in most war films they are fierce warriors but not that different from the americans. one of the reasons any american should watch this movie is that it shows the mistakes made by both the japanese and
americans unlike the woefull pearl harbour all in all a great movie
on 17 September 2003
The attack on Pearl Harbor on Sunday December 7, 1941 was one of the most signifcant events of the 20th century. It secured US entry into World War II which in turn helped in the victory in Europe over Germany.
A key feature of this movie is that it was a joint American-Japanese production and hence gives both perspectives and a balanced picture of the story. It is both a historically accurate account of the events and also a gripping and watchable film.
The first half of the movie maps out the events leading up to the attack, the question of why it happened is an important point for any event in history but particularly in this case.
The movie's second half is a stunning recreation of the devastating battle. Considering when it was filmed the effects of the battle compare favourably with those of the far more recent Pearl Harbor directed by Michael Bay.
on 20 December 2011
This is a true masterpiece of a historical film. The fact are told as they were, with as much attention to detail as one can expect in two hours. The American and Japanese approach to the final show-down are related very well, with the necessary detachment to maintain objectivity and yet with enough passion to make the viewer feel involved. I had read a lot about these events and still, I felt emotionally moved. There were reasonable people on both sides in 1941, and war might have been avoided if they had prevailed. Among them, the towering figure of Admiral Yamamoto is central to the whole story.
This movie is from 1970, so no computer generated imagery, no special effects really as we are accustomed to see today, but lots of real planes flying and real fires!
The Blue-ray quality of this set is stunning, incredible for a movie that is 40 years old, and the extended Japanese cut makes for a more thorough experience.
Also, the accompanying interviews with the directors and some historians and survivors add another hour and a half of interesting background.
on 4 December 2006
On Sunday 7 December 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy launched a surprise attack on the US Pacific fleet in its moorings at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. At the time, no state of war existed between the two nations. An ingenious pre-emptive strike, as the Japanese 'hawks' saw it, was condemned by the world as one of the greatest acts of treachery in modern history.
"Tora! Tora! Tora!" meticulously traces the build-up to Pearl Harbor by examining the diplomatic, military and intelligence events and developments on both sides. The film is unimpeachably even-handed, telling both sides' stories simultaneously, and interleaving the Japanese and American versions with intelligence and an almost total absence of jingoism.
Japan's warmongers considered their country to be trapped by history and geography. As the industrial nations surged forward in terms of prosperity and military might, Japan was in danger of being outstripped, having few natural resources of her own. If Japan was to compete with the USA and USSR, she would have to 'reach out' for the raw materials available in southern Asia and the Pacific, but this would mean confronting the USA, the great maritime power in the Pacific.
The film explains all this very well. We learn that the Japanese have an age-old tradition of striking against their enemies without warning, and that air superiority is the new doctrine. The brilliant Japanese planners such as Genda (played by Tatsuya Mihashi) have grasped the lessons of the European war and know the vital importance of naval air power. By 1941, battleships have become a liability - slow, lumbering dinosaurs which invite attack and cannot defend themselves against aircraft. The way forward is mobile air power, and that means aircraft carriers. If the Japanese can catch the American carriers at Pearl Harbor and destroy them, then the war will be won before it has properly started.
Throughout the build-up, the Japanese navy chiefs such as Yamamoto (So Yamomura) have a snippet of classical Japanese poetry on their minds: "If all men are brothers, why are the winds and the waves so restless?" They take this to mean that it is the rule of nature for man to attack his fellow man. By the end of the film, Yamamoto has abandoned this view and now believes that "We have aroused a sleeping giant, and filled him with a terrible resolve."
The film catalogues the accidents and mistakes which combined to make Pearl Harbor a worse disaster for the USA than it need have been. American aircraft are bunched together in the middle of the airfield in order to reduce the risk of sabotage near the perimeter fence, but this helps the Japanese bombers to destroy them on the ground. Radar equipment cannot be placed in the best locations to give early warning, and in any event the radar data are misinterpreted when they predict the attack. Because the attack falls on a weekend, it is difficult for middle-ranking officers to contact military and political chiefs, and the contingency plans are inadequate. Radio Honolulu broadcasts through the night to guide a fleet of B-17's to Hawaii, inadvertently acting as a navigation beacon for the Japanese warplanes.
If the painstaking build-up to the attack is a little slow and ponderous, it is certainly epic in scale, and when the action erupts it comes as a mighty climax. The tension is palpable as the Japanese planes take off from their carriers, black against the ominous dawn. What follows is a breath-taking cinematic coup as Pearl Harbor is ravaged.
Verdict - A historical account of almost documentary accuracy culminates in vivid action scenes. A marvellous film. Absolutely superb!