Operation Market Garden, September 1944: The Allies attempt to capture several strategically important bridges in the Netherlands in the hope of breaking the German lines. However, mismanagement and poor planning result in its failure.
This dramatic retelling of the Pearl Harbor attack details everything in the days that led up to that tragic moment in American history. As United States and Japanese relations strain over the U.S. embargo of raw materials, Air Staff Officer Minoru Genda (Tatsuya Mihashi) plans the preemptive strike against the United States. Although American intelligence agencies intercept Japanese communications hinting at the attack, they are unwilling to believe such a strike could ever occur on U.S. soil. Written by
When a large-scale production about the attack on Pearl Harbor was being suggested, it was discovered that Fox had already optioned a book about the subject, Ladislas Farago's "The Broken Seal", upon which much of the script would be based. See more »
When Kramer hands Bratton the most recent intercept in the decoding room, Bratton turns it upside-down as he receives it, and then apparently reads it successfully. See more »
[reading a report of the attack]
Oh, no, no, this can't be right; they must mean the Philippines!
No, sir. It's Pearl!
[to his aide]
Get me the White House, the direct line!
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The 20th Century Fox logo does not appear on this film. See more »
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
"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.
The Americans take a fateful decision to send out their carriers on
reconnaissance missions. This strips Pearl Harbor of protection, but
paradoxically ensures that Japan cannot win the war - no matter how
spectacular the success of the surprise attack, the mission will fail if the
US aircraft carriers survive.
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
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
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.
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