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This motion picture, more than 30 years after its release has stood the
historical test of time. At the time of release, many documents were
unavailable to historians and scholars. With the relase of more of this
information regarding the attack and the diplomatic "dances" leading up to
it, the producers of Tora! Tora! Tora! did well. Very few things have
changed over the last 30 years of addtional history regarding Pearl
The cast was first rate. I particulary enjoyed Edward Andrews as Harold "Betty" Stark (CNO). The phyisical resemblance between Andrews and the real Stark is astonishing. George McReady as Cordell Hull played the roler perfectly.
Much of the dialgoue from various characters was lifted from American and Japanese accounts, adding a further air or realism.
For this interested, the model of U.S.S. Nevada used in the move is now on permanent display aboard the U.S.S. Intrepid Air and Space Museum in New York City.
In closing, I would rank this film as one of my all-time favorites for movies covering the war in the Pacifc.
My father and I saw the Virginia premier of "Tora! Tora! Tora!" We were
there as a guest of my father's best friend (a Pearl Harbor survivor).
There were a lot of Pearl Harbor survivors at that premier.
I remember the survivors talking about how accuratly the attack was presented. They also talked about some of the inaccuracies (mostly uniforms and aircraft) but overall they thought it was great. Many grown men cried as they remembered fallen comrads.
I'm still impressed with the special effects. Several postings have complained about how "fake the backgrouds" looked. I've been to Pearl Harbor and the movie was actually filmed there.
There have been comments about the lack of suffering shown. Even if it had been filmed the studio would not have released it. Combat footage from World War II is shown on the History Channel today couldn't been shown in the theaters or TV when I was growing up (the 50's). It was considered too graphic for public consumption!
FOX had to build the full-sized battleships that you saw in the movie. They weren't computer generated images (CGI). Actually, they only built one that stood in for all the other battleships. There wouldn't be another massive shipboard set built along that scale until James Cameron's "Titanic".
The models of the ships (both U.S. and Japanese) built were also done on a large scale.
They had to assemble a fleet of flying Japanese aircraft (they modified existing surplus U.S. Navy and Air Force trainers) and rent real B-17s and P-40s. Those planes you see up there on the screen are real. Many of those "Japanse" aircraft are still flying and can be seen at Air Shows across the nation.
Whereever possible, the exact locations of the attack were used. In at lease one case, a hanger that was scheduled for demolition was destroyed in the filming of the movie.
It's much better than "Pearl Harbor".
If ever there should be a film made on the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor,
"Tora! Tora! Tora!" would be it.
I've always been of the opinion that films "based" on significant historical events should tell us the truth about what actually happened. Take the recent film "Pearl Harbor" (produced by none other than the king of corn/cheese, Jerry Bruckheimer) for instance; it shouldn't be called "Pearl Harbor"... it should be called "Jerry's Dream of Pearl Harbor".
Two words sum up this film... extremely precise. Never have I watched a film that has so loyally captured the facts and emotions of a real life event.
You can see that the filmmakers have put almost complete emphasis on bringing truth and clarity to the screen. The acting, on an overall, is stilted. The actors read their lines as if they have been instructed to speak the words as clearly as possible, and forego any finesse in delivering them. But is this a bad thing? Not in my opinion. In the context of a film of this type, it is far better than listening to overzealous actors mumbling their lines so as to get the proper "effect".
The directing is good. Battle sequences are well executed and look good, given that the film was made in 1970. One must appreciate the amount of work that must have gone into those scenes. Furthermore, that strange "Hawaiian" feeling creeps into the film at certain points as well, which is a nice touch.
The editting crew must also be given due credit. The film shows us what is happening at several crucial but disparate places simultaneously during the lead up to the attack. As such, the scenes revolve invariably from the Admiral's office to the General's office, to the Japanese embassy, to the decoding room, etc. This sets the film on an even tempo that allows the viewer to follow what is going on at a good pace. I do have one gripe about the editting, however. There were no captions to keep us informed on the exact chronology of happenings, except the well-known date of December 7 1941.
As an outsider, I am not weighed down by national pride when I say that this a gem of a film that overwhelms the viewer with its sheer honesty. Patriotic Americans might find it hard to like it (but there are certain scenes that seem to be made to satisfy these viewers as well, like the American fighters planes that were not at the base when the attack occurred).
Forget that piece of garbage Pearl Harbor by Jerry Bruckheimer. This movie
is better in every way. Its acting is better, its accuracy is better and
it's attack scenes are better. Unlike Pearl Harbor, this needed no computer
Tora! Tora! Tora! is an enjoyable movie even though the Americans seem helpless in the attack. The Japanese just keep bombing and bombing. The explosions in the attack are greatly constructed as are the death scenes of characters. One thing that I like the most about this movie is how it is shown from both point of views. After the attack read the subtitles of what is said in the very end and you will see what I mean by saying this movie is great. 10 out of 10.
I had never seen this movie until after I saw the extremely disappointing over hyped Pearl Harbor (2001). SHAME ON ME! This film is all that I was hoping Pearl Harbor would be. There is no worthless love story, silly dramatics, or characters you don't care about. It is what Pearl Harbor should have been, a movie about the attack on Pearl Harbor. You can read my review on that piece of garbage. Tora! Tora! Tora! did not let me down in any way. It is historically accurate and done very well. I highly recommend it for those who love history or have an interest in the Pearl Harbor invasion. You won't be disappointed!
The release of the outrageous 2001 travesty "Pearl Harbor" makes me
appreciate "Tora! Tora! Tora!" even more and prompts me to recommend it
as the best dramatization of the events, on the island of Oahu and on
the Pacific Ocean, of December 7, 1941.
Critics have panned "Tora! Tora! Tora!" as an overblown spectacle. They are wrong. The immensity of the film is perfectly in keeping with the immensity of the logistics required for the attack and the immensity of the attack itself. The production values are high, the colors vivid and crisp, and the special effects, 30 years after the film's release, are still state of the art. There are scenes from the attack on Hickam Field whose realism and spectacle are astounding.
The casting is wonderful, with Jason Robards and Martin Balsam playing the star-crossed General and Admiral who would have to play the patsies for the negligence of higher ups. There are few truly secondary roles in this film, for almost every element of the story is crucial to the progression of events. Thus, "secondary roles" like those of E.G. Marshall and Wesley Addy are riveting, because of the extraordinary situations in which their characters are placed.
We are also given intimate access to the Japanese side during planning and preparation. Because this is a co-production between Americans and Japanese, the latter are portrayed without caricature, as people who believe in the cause which is inspiring this "dastardly attack". I don't know any of the Japanese actors, beyond a few familiar faces, but they are every bit as engaging as the Americans.
We know what is going to happen - that Pearl Harbor will be successfully attacked by the Japanese - but so skillful are the direction and the characterization, and so authentic is the historical reconstruction, that we are easily transported into the moment rather than being dangled above it, as if we we watching a documentary. Unlike "Pearl Harbor," which insults every man and woman who served in World War II, "Tora! Tora! Tora!" in its powerful, unadorned way, pays them tribute.
Having recently seen the atrocious new movie "Pearl Harbor" (2001) I feel
that I am now compelled to give this film its due.
What this movie lacks in special effects it makes up for in plot and detail. This film shows both sides of the attack and puts little spin (as far as I can see) on the events that unfolded in 1941. What makes this movie so great? First, the Japanese speak Japanese, not English. Second, the events that lead up to the attack are real (again, I am not a history major so I don't know everything that happened). Third, real planes!!!
Many modern war movies decide to please the [English-speaking] audiences and all the dialogue that is needed is done in English rather than in the native tongue of the character. "Tora! Tora! Tora!" uses both English and Japanese, adding another layer of realism to the film. For all of you who can't read subtitles, learn to. It might get a little tiresome, but after a while it becomes second nature.
Unlike some war movies that use a famous battle as a backdrop, this film builds up to the battle with precision. There is not false story woven into the plot to attract viewers, it is a truthful account of what happened. This movie also gives justifications for what happened. "Pearl Harbor" just throws out Yamamoto's quote about 'waking a sleeping giant,' but this movie gives the detail that this was because the Japanese ultimatum was handed in after the attack took place instead of before.
Done in the 70's, this movie used real planes and real stunts. Modern movies tend to computerize many of the attacks and squadrons. This movie uses real planes doing real things. Does it really matter if the pilots are flying in front of a screen? And, how many times do you need to see flaming fuselage rush at you?
A classic war movie, dated by many of today's standards, this film is excellent in showing the build-up and attack on Pearl Harbor. If you want to see a movie about the attack, watch this movie, but be prepared to not see any fancy special effects. It might look like a regular PBS documentary on what happened, but it is still good. If you like to see what really happened - without Hollywood hype shoved in your face - then this is a movie to see. I have heard many people mention that this is THE movie about Pearl Harbor, and I agree with them. 10/10
Tora! Tora! Tora! is a monumental accomplishment. Its special effects alone are certainly worth experiencing. It also makes an effort to tell both sides of the attack accurately using Japanese and American actors. What prevents this epic film from becoming a classic boils down to the quality of the acting. Not the Japanese actors but rather some big name American actors who seem to just be going through the motions. Bit players are even less convincing. Still, this is a story that everyone should see on film and care is taken to make it historically correct.
The first time I saw TTT I was a twelve-year old at Lackland Air Force
base in the early '70's. The film did well at the base theatre, but
bombed at the box office elsewhere. Those of you my age and older will
nod knowingly at what you are about to read. I offer no apology for
what follows - this is simply the way it was.....
When my fellows and I would play war, EVERY kid wanted to be the American GI's. We drew lots for those playing the Germans (we called them krauts) and argued the next day on whose turn came next. No one even deigned to play the Japanese (a word unknown to us). One boy said his father would beat him if that ever happened. Our fathers and uncles talked about Jap cars being junk and Jap tools breaking in half. Your older brother mentioned a boy getting jap-slapped in gym class. We complained about Jap toys not being as good as American-made ones. We even thought there was something wrong with their (the Japanese) eyesight because their eyes were shaped differently (we called them slanted). This was my generation, and it was more so for the previous one. That is why TTT did so poorly when it premiered across America. There were still a lot of hard feelings abounding (watching the film as a child, the audience around me roared every time a Japanese aeroplane was shot down). As I got older, I learned the inappropriateness of certain words, but thirty-five years ago, we saw history differently. Watch this film for what it is and enjoy it.
A lot of great things about this movie. Realism, visual effects, the
Japanese acting, fantastic. Tora! Tora! Tora! is well written and well
paced - the editing is tight, if dizzying and confusing.
Problem is, Fleischer's ham-fisted directing and some lousy post-production.
Honestly, he's NOT a good director. Besides the great actors in this movie (Robinson, Robards, Balsam, etc.), all the other actors deliver flat, unconvincing, hackneyed performances. What excuse could you have for framing that cuts off people's heads, or leaves 2/3 of the top of the frame empty to no artistic purpose ? And ohhhh, those sound effects - besides being the same wall-to-wall clichés, the mix is so bad, whole lines of dialog spoken RIGHT into the camera disappear completely.
Contrasted with the Japanese-directed segments, his weakness shows terribly.
He wasn't one of Hollywood's great directors. How dare I slander the work of the man who brought us Million Dollar Mystery, Red Sonja, Conan the Destroyer, Amityville 3-D... ? Guess I'm a jerk. Point is, someone else should've directed Tora! Tora! Tora!, and it would truly be a classic.
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