Pearl Harbor (2001) Poster



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  • The guns themselves are accurate for the most part, but there are some inaccuracies (including anachronisms) concerning attachments, accessories or interfaces. Edit (Coming Soon)

    • The scene in England where Rafe McCawley is given a Spitfire plane covered in the previous pilot's blood is factual. Equipment and manpower were so scarce in England in the early 1940's that planes would literally be passed on when their pilots were killed without anyone cleaning them.

    • The way the Japanese fleet is depicted as approaching Pearl Harbor is accurate. They really did "disappear" from US radars and flood the airwaves with references to every possible target in the Pacific, making it impossible for the US to predict where they would attack.

    • As is depicted in the film, a young radar operator did indeed see the massive Japanese approach, but was told not to worry about it as the officer in charge thought it was only a group of B-17 Flying Fortresses returning to Hawaii from training in California. The officer was later exonerated for his decision as the B-17s in question were indeed approaching the islands at the time and actually arrived at their home airfield whilst it was beng attacked. The approach of a large number of aircraft towards Pearl Harbour that morning was therefore not unexpected and would not have raised any particular alarm.

    • The report which Admiral Kimmel receives about a destroyer firing on and sinking a Japanese midget sub about an hour before the first wave of enemy planes attacked is entirely accurate (although in reality, Kimmel never received the report). The patrol ship USS Condor spotted a sub in restricted waters just inside the harbor and contacted the USS Ward, which raced to the scene and opened fire. The Ward sank the sub with its second shot. A second Japanese midget sub actually penetrated Pearl Harbor's inner defences and fired two torpdoes. Both missed and the sub was rammed and sunk by the USS Monaghan. A Japanese reconaissance photograph taken during the raid appears to show a third midget sub broaching the surface as it fires a torpedo towards US warships. A fourth ran aground and its commander was captured.

    • The film is a little ambiguous in its depiction of the whereabouts of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto (Mako) during the attack. Some people argue that the film implies Yamamoto is actually present on one of the Japanese carriers at Pearl Harbor itself, which would be historically inaccurate, as in reality Yamamoto was aboard the IJN Nagato in Tokyo Bay for the duration of the battle, with Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo in charge of the attack itself. However, if one watches the film closely, it is clear that Nagumo is correctly depicted as being in charge of the attack, whilst the two cutaways to Yamamoto contain no evidence that he is on board any of the carriers. This is especially obvious in the scene where Commander Minoru Genda (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) is surprised that Nagumo decides there will be no third wave of attacks. Obviously, if the film incorrectly depicted Yamamoto as attending the battle, it would be he who would take this decision, not Nagumo. However, it must be acknowledged that the film is a little unclear in depicting Yamamoto's location during the attack.

    • As is noted in the Trivia section, the scene of the Japanese gunner waving the kids away is entirely factual. It is believed that the Japanese crewman was apparently warning civilians on the ground to take cover since they were going to attack.

    • The scene where Lt. Red Winkle sees the planes heading towards the barracks whilst going to the toilet, before then rushing into the sleeping quarters to try to wake everyone up is based on the real experiences of Lt. Francis Gabreski.

    • Just before they take off during the Pearl Harbor attack, Rafe McCawley and Danny Walker are shown using a radio system which they hold against their throats as opposed to up to their mouths. This is historically accurate, as the communications device in P-40s worked by measuring vibrations in the vocal cords as opposed to simply transmitting the voices via radio waves.

    • Sailors really did report feeling torpedoes skim past their legs when they were in the water, as is shown in the film.

    • During the attack, nurses really did mark patients who had received morphine with an M, as well as mark them with a C for critical, and F for fatally wounded. Also, when they ran out of markers, they really did use lipstick.

    • Asian doctors and nurses did find themselves racially abused during and immediately after the attack, with many badly injured soldiers refusing to be treated by them.

    • As is referenced in the film, a third wave of attack planes was planned, an attack which would target the dockyards, maintenance shops, and oil depots, but Admiral Nagumo felt it was too big a risk as the Japanese had lost the element of surprise, and the US Navy and Army were beginning to mobilize. This is accurately portrayed in the film in the already mentioned scene involving Commander Minoru Genda who immediately protested Nagumo's decision.

    • As is briefly seen in the film, Roosevelt really did have a Hitler pincushion.

    • Lt. Col. James Doolittle really did wire the Japanese peace medals to the bombs before the Doolittle Raid, just as is depicted in the film (although where he places them is wrong; in the film he wires them to the head, but in reality, they were wired to the wings, as wiring them to the head could interfere with the detonation mechanism).

    • For the most part, the broader elements of the Doolittle Raid are depicted accurately, although some of the smaller details are inaccurate; the Raiders really were forced to launch early due to an encounter with a Japanese trawler which gave away the position of the USS Hornet before it could be destroyed, and they really did have to pitch down into China, where they encountered several Japanese patrols. Unlike in the film however, no US pilots were killed in skirmishes with Japanese soldiers. Also unlike in the film, none of the Raiders were actually killed during the attack itself (the film depicts one Raider killed by anti-aircraft flak). Fifteen of the sixteen B-25s made it to China (the 16th was low on fuel and had to head to Russia). Four crash landed and eleven bailed out. After touching down, ten men were unaccounted for; eight had been taken prisoner by the Japanese, two had died in the crashes. Of the eight prisoners, four survived, one died of malnutrition and the Japanese executed three, something which is not acknowledged in the film. According to Michael Bay on the DVD commentary, this point was actually mentioned in the original voiceover which closes the film, but, at the request of the Japanese government, it was removed, as it felt it might leave viewers with something of a sour taste as regards lingering animosity.
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  • Because not everyone feels that historical inaccuracies are goofs per se, and as such, have no place in the goofs section, the FAQ page seems to provide a good neutral place where such inaccuracies can be recorded, as well as (in italicized text) reasons hypothesized as to how or why these inaccuracies may have occurred.

    • The scenes early in the film are dated 1923, yet Danny's father (William Fichtner) is a crop duster. The first US commercial crop dusting company, Huff-Daland Crop Dusting, didn't begin operating until late 1924; prior to that, hot air balloons were used. In addition, the plane he is seen flying (a Model 75 Kaydet) wasn't produced until 1934, and wasn't available to the public until after the war. This error seems most likely to have come about due to careless historical research or careless writing on the part of Randall Wallace, and careless research on the part of the art department.

    • Mitchell Field is misspelt in the film. In reality, it is spelled Mitchel Field (with only one "l"), after former New York City Mayor John Purroy Mitchel. This error is difficult to attribute to any cause other than simple carelessness on the part of the art department.

    • One of the first plot points in the film is that Rafe McCawley (Ben Affleck) has volunteered to join an RAF Eagle Squadron. In reality however, this could not happen. Until December 7th, 1941, active duty US military personnel could not serve with a belligerent nation whilst the US was neutral. In reality, McCawley would have had to resign from the US Army Air Corp and re-enlist into the RAF. It seems likely that historical advisor (former Navy SEAL Harry Humphries) would have noticed this error, and pointed it out to the filmmakers, and as such, it almost certainly came about due to the demands of the narrative; McCawley's hasty departure for England furthers the plot in the US, and opens the way for the introduction of the love triangle.

    • Early in the film, we see a 1940 Newsreel montage of battle scenes from Europe which clearly shows a US tank fighting in Cologne. The US didn't have any troops or equipment in Cologne until March 1945. This error is difficult to attribute to any cause other than simple carelessness and lack of historical research.

    • Almost none of the women in the film wear stockings of any type. In the early 1940s, virtually every adult woman in the US wore seamed nylon stockings. This error is difficult to attribute to any cause other than simple carelessness and lack of historical research on the part of the costume department.

    • Several of the nurses in the film have hair longer than would have been allowed; military nurses were not permitted to wear their hair longer than just above their collar. Again, this error is difficult to attribute to any cause other than simple carelessness or lack of historical research.

    • Rafe and Danny Walker (Josh Hartnett) are at one point threatened with being thrown into the brig. The "brig" is a phrase used only by the Marines and the Navy; the Army uses the term "stockade". Again, this error seems indicative of careless writing on the part of Randall Wallace.

    • When in Lt. Col. James Doolittle's (Alec Baldwin) office, a trophy cabinet can be seen. One of the trophies is a North American F-86 Sabre, a plane not produced until 1947. Again, this error seems attributable only to poor art department research.

    • When Rafe first meets Evelyn Johnson (Kate Beckinsale), she is assessing whether or not he is fit to fly. However, as many historians, critics and military personal have pointed out, at no time during the war (or before or since) did nurses in the U.S. Navy Nurse Corp assess whether pilot candidates in the U.S. Army Air Corps could fly. The Navy Nurse Corp and the Army Air Corp have no connection whatsoever. It seems unlikely that Humphries could have missed this glaring error, and as such, this particular inaccuracy is once more most likely the result of narrative expediency, as it allowed for a scene where the male lead (a US Army Air Corp pilot) could emotionally connect with the female lead (a US Navy Nurse Corp nurse).

    • Evelyn and her fellow nurses are seen wearing modern style bikinis. This type of bikini didn't appear until 1946 when it was introduced in Paris by Louis Réard and Jacques Heim. This mistake can only be attributed to poor historical research on the part of the art department.

    • In a scene early in the movie, Rafe and Evelyn use a winch to raise themselves up alongside the RMS Queen Mary, which is clearly seen in its original Cunard colors. However, in 1939 the Queen Mary had been painted battleship gray in preparation for it being fitted out to serve as a troop carrier for the Royal Navy. As such, the scene (set in mid-1941) should have depicted the ship with its gray colors rather than Cunard colors. This mistake seems likely to have occurred due either to a lack of research or a mistake on the part of the art department.

    • Early in the film, President Franklin D. Roosevelt (Jon Voight) expresses dismay that the American army is not doing more to aid the Allies in Europe, and he suggests that they send more tanks to assist the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union. This scene takes place in early 1941, at which time the Soviet Union was still an ally of Nazi Germany. The Soviets didn't turn against the Germans until June 1941 and were not considered part of the Allies until January 1942. This error most likely arose due to lack of research on the part of screenwriter Randall Wallace.

    • The USS West Virginia (the ship on which the boxing match takes place) had a 4x2 gun configuration. In the film it is shown as having a 3x3 configuration. The practical explanation for this error is that a retired Iowa-class battleship was used to represent the West Virginia for the scene; Iowa-class battleships have a 3x3 configuration. Obviously, the filmmakers didn't deem it important enough a detail to warrant correcting the error with CG work during post-production.

    • Dorie Miller (Cuba Gooding Jr.) is shown as a petty officer second class. Miller was a petty officer third class at the time of the attack. This error is difficult to attribute to anything other than a lack of adequate research.

    • During Dorie Miller's boxing match, a sailor can be seen betting with a $5 bill with the "Hawaii" overprint on it. This was a special World War II currency with the word "Hawaii" overprinted on the front and back, and the serial numbers and seal changed from green to brown. This was done so that the currency could be declared worthless if there was a Japanese invasion. Although series 1934 and 1934-A $5 bills were printed with the "Hawaii" overprint, these notes were not issued until July 1942, seven months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. This error most likely arose due to lack of adequate historical research on the part of the art department.

    • When in England, Rafe wears an Eagle Squadron badge, with the squadron code "RF". This code, however, was only used for the No.303 Polish Fighting Squadron. This error was most likely caused by lack of adequate research.

    • When in England, the RAF Squadron Leader (Nicholas Farrell) calls Rafe "Pilot Officer", an RAF rank equivalent to a US Army Second Lieutenant. However, Rafe is a Lieutenant, as confirmed by his silver bars. Thus, he would have held the rank of "Flying Officer", not Pilot Officer. This error can only be attributed to carelessness on the part of Randall Wallace.

    • In a scene in England, a spitfire with a four-blade Rotol propeller can be seen. All Spitfires c1941 had three-blade constant-pitch propellers. The Rotol propeller wasn't introduced onto the Spitfire XI until 1943. This error was most likely caused by lack of adequate research.

    • Nurse Betty Bayer (Jaime King) claims to be 17 years old, saying she lied about her age to be accepted into the Navy Nurse Corps. However, Navy Nurses were required to be registered nurses to join the Navy Nurse Corps, which meant three years of prior training as well as passing a state board examination. As such, Betty would have had to have become a nurse at age 14 for her age of 17 to ring true. This mistake, which exists in Wallace's screenplay, seems likely to have occurred due simply to a lack of adequate research on Wallace's part.

    • Every scene in the cryptography office which features ticker-tape shows the coded messages printed out in Helvetica, a font which didn't exist until 1957. This error is difficult to attribute to anything other than a lack of adequate research or carelessness.

    • In the film, Admiral Husband E. Kimmel (Colm Feore) is portrayed as a vigilant leader certain of an imminent attack on his base, and doing everything in his power to try to convince Washington of its inevitability. In reality however, most historians tell us that Kimmel received several warnings about a possible attack on Pearl Harbor, but felt they were too vague and chose to dismiss them. This is a subjective matter, but where the film is specifically factually wrong as regards Kimmel is in terms of his reaction to the news that the USS Ward had just sunk a Japanese midget sub. Kimmel did receive this report about an hour before the Japanese planes arrived (as is accurately portrayed in the film), but he chose not to go to general quarters due to the fact that there had been a number of false sub sightings in recent months, and he wanted to confirm the Ward's report before acting on it (which is not how he reacts in the movie). The depiction of Kimmel in the movie is not strictly an "inaccuracy" insofar as both director Michael Bay and actor Ben Affleck acknowledge on their respective DVD commentaries that the film is part of an ongoing attempt to re-evaluate Kimmel's role in the attack, and to vindicate him as being almost wholly responsible for it. As such, the portrayal of Kimmel, although it doesn't tally completely with how history depicts him, was a conscious choice by the filmmakers so as to make an ideological point, not an error born of poor research.

    • In the scenes on the golf course, a Willys Jeep M38 can be seen. This jeep wasn't produced until 1950. This error seems likely to have come about due to careless research.

    • As one point in the film, a Knox-class frigate is seen passing behind Kimmel. This class of frigate wasn't commissioned until 1969. Once again, this error seems likely to have come about due to simple carelessness.

    • In 1941, all Japanese was written from right to left, but all of the Japanese characters in the movie are written from left to right, except one phrase, which says, "Empire of Japan banzai". See here for more information. This error seems likely to have come about due to careless research.

    • When the Japanese are shown planning the attack, there is a scene showing a series of model ships in a replica of Pearl Harbor. One of the ships is the USS Vestal. The Vestal was a repair ship that was moored alongside the USS Arizona during the attack. How did the Japanese know that the Vestal would be there when they attacked? This error, which is also something of a continuity error, is attributable only to carelessness on the part of the filmmakers.

    • The Japanese aircraft carrier IJN Akagi has modern catapults and an angled metal deck in the film. Such innovations were not introduced on Japanese aircraft carriers until the mid-1950s. This error most likely came about because American carriers were used to depict the Japanese carriers, as nearly all Japanese carriers were destroyed during the war. Again, this mistake may have been left in the film because the filmmakers deemed it too minor to worry about, or it may simply have slipped them by due to a lack of adequate research or carelessness.

    • The Japanese Zeros in the film are painted dark green, but in reality, Japanese Navy Zero fighters were painted light grey in 1941. They weren't painted green until 1943. This also seems likely due to lack of research.

    • As is accurately shown in the film, the Japanese aircraft carriers took up a position just north of Hawaii, with the attack launching early in the morning. However, the sunrise in the east would have caused the planes to be lit from the left side, not the right side, as is shown in the film. This mistake probably occurred quite simply because nobody noticed; and in the grand scheme of things, it is a fairly minor point.

    • Prior to the battle, the Japanese fleet are shown in formation, with all the ships bunched up close together. In reality, ship-to-ship spacing in a large carrier task force is a minimum of 1000 yards. This error was probably noticed by Humphries, and the filmmakers chose to ignore it on aesthetic grounds, so as to achieve a shot of the entire fleet.

    • Prior to the attack, the Japanese pilots are shown putting on Hachimaki headbands, and drinking sake. This ritual was only performed by Kamikaze pilots, and although there was one such incident during the attack, it wasn't planned; after his plane was badly damaged, 1st Lt. Fusata Iida flew into Kaneohe Naval Air Station. This error most likely originated either due to lack of research, or a reliance on stereotypical depictions of the Japanese.

    • In the film, Admiral Kimmel is shown receiving the message which revealed that the Japanese government had ordered the destruction of all coding equipment. In reality, this message was never communicated to Kimmel. This mistake is most likely based upon the demands of the narrative, as Kimmel's receipt of this communication heightens the drama in the moments prior to the attack.

    • In the film, the Arizona is hit by a high altitude bomb almost immediately after the appearance of the Japanese Zeroes. In reality, it was about 20 minutes into the battle before the Arizona was hit and exploded. Obviously, the filmmakers would have known this, as the chronology of the battle is well established, and as such, this error can also be attributed to dramatic effect—having the Arizona hit so early in the battle raises the stakes for the rest of the conflict.

    • When the bomb crashes into the Arizona's ammunition magazine, it is shown knocking a rack of shells loose and then landing among a stack of powder bags. Shells and powder were never stored together on any ship. Additionally, the shells are shown bouncing when they land. In reality, each one weighed around 1,500 lbs, and would simply thud to the ground, not bounce. This error seems likely due to carelessness.

    • Throughout the attack sequence, the USS Oklahoma continually changes position from shot to shot, not only creating historical inaccuracies, but also internal continuity problems within the film. When the Oklahoma is shown capsizing, in some scenes she is correctly moored next to the USS Maryland, but in others she is next to the Arizona, whilst in others, she is surrounded by fog with no ships anywhere near her. When Admiral Kimmel is touring the destruction after the attack, the Oklahoma is seen next to the Arizona (which is historically inaccurate), and other battleships seem to have been placed in a random clutter next to one another, without any relationship at all to their actual positioning in real life. The geography of the attack has been well established by historians—there is no mystery as to where each ship was when the bombing started, and as such, it seems this error has most likely come about due to carelessness on the part of the filmmakers.

    • During the battle, at least one of the Japanese Nakajima B5N planes is shown as having an M1919 .30-caliber tailgun, an American weapon. Why would a Japanese plane have an American gun? In reality, the B5N was fitted with a Type 92 machine gun. Once more, this error seems attributable only to carelessness and lack of attention to detail.

    • At one point during the battle, Danny says "I think World War II just started." This makes little sense for a number of reasons. Firstly, in 1941, World War I was still called The Great War; it wasn't officially called World War I until 1948, so the term "World War II" had no meaning at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack. In addition, his assessment that World War II began with Pearl Harbor is inaccurate. American involvement began with the attacks, but the European portion of the war had been going on since 1939, when Germany invaded Poland. This error seems attributable simply to careless writing on the part of Randall Wallace.

    • When Danny and Rafe arrive at the airfield during the attack, Sgt. Earl Sistern (Tom Sizemore) fires 11 shots from his Model 1897 Trench without reloading. The 1897 Trench only holds six shells. This error most likely came about due to simple carelessness.

    • Perhaps the most controversial alteration to historical reality is how the film uses the real life personages of 2nd Lt. George Welch and 2nd Lt. Kenneth M. Taylor. The characters of Rafe McCawley and Danny Walker are loosely based on Welch and Taylor, but a great deal of the details of their real exploits during the battle has been changed. In reality, Welch and Taylor did race in a Buick to Wheeler Airfield (as do McCawley and Walker in the film), and they were the first two pilots off the ground during the attack (as are McCawley and Walker in the film). Between them, Welch and Taylor claimed at least six of the 29 Japanese aircraft lost during the Pearl Harbor attack (McCawley and Walker claim four each). However, this is where the similarities end. Welch and Taylor were not involved in a love triangle and did not go on the Doolittle Raid. Upon the release of the movie, many Pearl Harbor historians took umbrage with this casual use of real people, criticizing the fact that the film makes no direct reference to the very real heroics of either Welch or Taylor, but instead uses two fictional characters as replacements for the real people. Historians (and critics) particularly attacked the filmmakers for grafting an entirely fictional love story onto proceedings. Indeed, some argued that the role of Welch and Taylor in the real events was actually trivialized by the addition of the love-triangle subplot ("the memory of these two real-life heroes was obliterated for the sake of a sappy fictional romantic triangle, and their actions distorted into juvenile cartoon-like antics"—Hollywood Abominations). Allegedly, Taylor himself called the film "a piece of trash; over-sensationalized and completely distorted." See these two links for more information on the Taylor and Welch debate: Washington Post; Hollywood Abominations (it is worth noting however, that this second site makes a number of errors itself, for example it criticizes the film for using all CG planes in the dogfighting sequences—this is inaccurate, the production had six real P-40s for the duration of the shoot). That this could be considered not an error at all, however, depends more on the viewer's personal perspective. Naming the two main characters McCrawley and Walker instead of Welch and Taylor is an indication that the characters are not direct representations of the real men (as opposed to several characters in the movie, such as Dorie Miller, who are supposed to represent their real-life counterpart). It is not uncommon for fictional characters and their interactions to be placed amidst real historical events in such a way as to involve the audience in the story, as opposed to merely presenting an historical overview. More often than not, character traits, quotes and actions from historically real people are combined into fictional characters. This is done to allow the writers to include historical facts, while at the same time giving them the freedom to add fictional elements to the story to work dramatically. The characters of Rafe and Danny are based on two real people, but they are not direct depictions of these people.

    • According to Rafe, the American P-40s can't outrun the Japanese Zeros, so they had to outfly them. Both of these claims are inaccurate. The P-40 can outrun a Zero with ease, but a Zero is much more maneuverable than a P-40. Additionally, the Zeros were only introduced in late 1940, and the American army was unfamiliar with them until after the attack—there is no way Rafe could have known the capabilities of the plane. This error seems to have come about due simply to careless writing or poor historical research.

    • During the attack, Earl uses an SCR-536 radio transceiver, known as a handie-talkie, to talk to the pilots. This portable radio was intended only for short-range tactical use among ground troops and not as a ground-to-air radio. This is because, over water, the radio had a maximum range of 3 miles, but on land, it had a range of only 1 mile, meaning Sistern wouldn't have been able to communicate with the pilots for much of the battle. Again, this error is difficult to attribute to anything other than poor historical research.

    • During the battle, Lt. Red Winkle's (Ewen Bremner) M1928A1 Thompson submachine gun is shown with a 30-round magazine. However, 30-round magazines weren't available until the release of the M1/M1A1 Thompson in 1942. This error is probably attributable to poor research on the part of the art department.

    • Dorie Miller's actions during the battle are not entirely historically accurate. In the film, Miller comforts Captain Mervyn S. Bennion (Peter Firth) as he dies, and then delivers Bennion's last orders to the XO, before manning a .50-caliber machine gun and shooting down a Japanese Zero. In reality, Miller carried the fatally wounded Bennion off the bridge to a safer location, and Bennion continued to direct the battle until he died of his wounds just minutes before the West Virginia was abandoned. Miller never communicated anything from Bennion to the XO. In addition, although Miller did man an anti-aircraft gun on which he wasn't trained, he had no confirmed kills, although he did have three probables. Director Michael Bay acknowledges on his DVD commentary track that Miller's actions were altered slightly simply for the sake of the narrative; it was more dramatic to have him comfort the dying Captain and then deliver his final order.

    • Dorie Miller is shown firing a twin Browning M2 air-cooled .50-caliber machine gun. The .50-caliber guns on the West Virginia were water-cooled, not air cooled. This mistake seems most likely to have arisen due simply to lack of adequate historical research.

    • Upon hearing of the attack, Roosevelt laments that the attack occurred "with our entire fleet at anchor". This creates an interesting internal error within the movie itself. In reality, the aircraft carriers (which were the real target of the attack) were not at Pearl Harbor on December 7th, and as such the "entire fleet" was not at anchor. However, this point is actually confirmed within the film itself by Admiral Chester W. Nimitz (Graham Beckel), when he points out to Roosevelt that any direct attack on Japan would put the aircraft carriers at risk, thus illustrating that the carriers survived the attack. Due to the error itself being created within the dialogue of the film, this mistake can be attributed to a simple continuity glitch in the writing.

    • Chester W. Nimitz is presented as being Chief of Naval Operations and a full Admiral throughout the film. In point of fact, from June 1939 until ten days after the attack on Pearl Harbor he was only Chief of the Bureau of Navigation (and a Vice Admiral), and as such had no contact with Naval Intelligence, nor had any part in the Navy's preparedness (or lack thereof) for the Japanese attack. On December 17th, 1941, he was promoted to full Admiral and made Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet (CINCPACFLT). He would not be appointed CNO until after the war.

    • The scene where Roosevelt demands that the Army and Navy find a way to strike back at Japan but is told by Admiral Nimitz and General George Marshall (Scott Wilson) that such an attack is impossible is entirely fictitious, no such scene ever took place, and in reality, Nimitz and Marshall were as much advocates of striking back directly at Japan as was Roosevelt himself. The much ridiculed scene where the polio-crippled Roosevelt miraculously stands up is also completely fabricated. Without braces on his legs, Roosevelt could barely stand, much less walk. Obviously, this scene was created to make the character portrayed by Jon Voight seem strong and determined in the face of opposition and thus serves a narrative function.

    • After the attack, Danny and Rafe board a C-47 Skytrain to take them to their destination for the Doolittle Raid. The C-47 has a radar dome mounted in the nose, but this type of C-47 did not exist at that time. This is another error that is difficult to attribute to anything other than poorly conducted research.

    • Next to the Welch and Taylor debate, the most controversial aspect of the film is the depiction of the Doolittle Raid, which many historians have dismissed as pure fabrication. Whilst the film is actually accurate in many of the details of the Raid (see "Historical Accuracies" section below), it does get some aspects wrong. One that has attracted a great deal of criticism is the composition of the Raiders themselves. In the film, Doolittle recruits Capt. Rafe McCawley, Capt. Danny Walker, Red and Lt. Gooz Wood (Michael Shannon) to fly on the Raid. However these four men are single-engined fighter pilots who would not have been qualified to fly multi-engined bombers (such as the B-25 Mitchell). In reality, the Doolittle Raiders all came from the 17th Bombardment Group (Medium) from South Carolina. No one participated in both the Pearl Harbor attack and the Doolittle Raid. As with many of the errors listed here, this mistake was most likely noted by the filmmakers and consciously altered for the expediency of the narrative. Obviously, the climactic scene in the film needed to feature the protagonists of the story, and as such, history had to be altered in some way.

    • During the Doolittle Raid, the Raiders are shown flying in formation from the carrier towards Japan, but in actuality, each B-25 flew by itself, with several minutes between each takeoff. Again, this error can be attributed to the demands of storytelling, having the planes all leave together simply makes for a more dramatic narrative.

    • During the Doolittle Raid, the pilots' radio transmissions can be heard in Pearl Harbor. From such a distance, this would have been impossible in 1942. Again, this is all about creating tension and heightening the drama.

    • After the Doolittle raid, when Rafe has crashed, Danny is shown strafing the Japanese, firing the fuselage-mounted .50-caliber machine gun. The B-25B model didn't have a .50 gun. They were not introduced on the B-25 until the B-25G model in 1944. Once again, this error is difficult to attribute to anything other than carelessness.

    • At the end of the film, Evelyn and several other nurses are seen receiving the Purple Heart. Evelyn was not wounded in the movie, and the Purple Heart is only awarded to those who have died or been wounded. This is a strange mistake. Obviously, military consultant Harry Humphries would have known that the Purple Heart is not awarded to people who aren't injured, so it is possible that the filmmakers decided to ignore this discrepancy, and for the good of the scene, simply have Evelyn receive the same medals as the other characters.
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  • The R1 US 4-disc Director's Cut DVD released by Touchstone Home Entertainment in 2002 contains the following special features:

    • A feature-length audio commentary with producer/director Michael Bay and film historian Jeanine Basinger.

    • A feature-length audio commentary with producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and actors Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett and Alec Baldwin.

    • A feature-length audio commentary with director of photography John Schwartzman, production designer Nigel Phelps, costume designer Michael Kaplan, supervising art director Martin Laing and composer Hans Zimmer.

    • An Easter Egg (Disc 1) of a two-minute clip explaining why widescreen is preferable for-DVD transfer than traditional pan & scan techniques (Go to the "Set Up" menu and highlight "Audio Options". Press down to highlight a Star, now press Enter).

    Faith Hill music video "There You'll Be"

    • A trailer for the Beyond the Movie: Pearl Harbor (2001) documentary, which can be found on the Two-Disc 60th Anniversary Commemorative Gift Set DVD.

    Journey to the Screen: The Making of 'Pearl Harbor' (2001); a 47-minute making-of documentary which also looks at the real life attack.

    • An Easter Egg (Disc 2) of a ten-minute selection of bloopers and outtakes (Go to the "Special Features" menu and highlight the music video. Press right to highlight a Star, now press Enter).

    • 10 behind-the-scenes vignettes with optional commentary from producer/director Michael Bay, running a total of 21 minutes ("Airfield Attack", "Baja Gimbal", "Battleship Row", "Dorie Miller", "Dud Bomb", "Mechanics Row", "Nurse Strafing", "Sandbag Stunt", "Doolittle Raid", "Arizona Dive"

    • 2 featurettes running a total of 21 minutes looking at the training the actors did to prepare for their roles in the film ("Soldier's Boot Camp with Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett", "Officer's Boot Camp with Alec Baldwin")

    • Super 8 footage shot to be used in the film as Navy newsreel footage (5 minutes)

    • US teaser trailer and US theatrical trailer

    History Undercover: One Hour Over Tokyo (2001); a 46-minute documentary looking at the real life Doolittle Raid

    Unsung Heroes of Pearl Harbor (2001); a 46-minute documentary looking at the individual stories of the sailors involved in the Pearl Harbor attack

    • "Oral History: The Recollections of a Pearl Harbor Nurse"; a letter written by Lieutenant Ruth Erickson, NC, USN is read aloud, accompanied by images of the attack (4 minutes)

    • "Interactive Attack Sequence"; a 28-minute multi-angle/multi-audio look at the making of the attack scene in the film

    • "Deconstructing Destruction"; a 21-minute conversation on the visual effects in the film between producer/director Michael Bay and visual effects supervisor Eric Brevig (also includes 28mins of optional branching footage)

    • "Animatic Attack"; a 6-minute pre-viz of the attack sequence, with commentary from producer/director Michael Bay

    When Cultures Collide: From Perry to Pearl Harbor (2002); a 68-minute documentary looking at the international relations between the United States and Japan from 1846 to 1941, in the form of an interactive timeline

    • A gallery of production stills

    • Pearl Harbor Website bibliography (DVD-ROM)

    • The DVD also contains special period specific packaging in the form of a soldiers journal, a 24-page booklet and 4 lobby cards featuring the actors from the film.

    • Note: There are multiple DVD versions of this film available. See here for more details. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • In all, there are nearly sixty differences between the theatrical cu and the Director's Cut of the film. These differences are most prominent during the action sequences, which are much more violent in the Director's Cut. However, there are also several other extended scenes, such as prolonged plot sequences found throughout the film. The overall difference between the two versions is just over one minute. One can find a detailed comparison, between both versions, with images, here and a list of deleted scenes and other variations here. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Yes, but only the theatrical cut. The Director's Cut is unavailable. Both the US edition and the UK edition include "Journey to the Screen: The Making of Pearl Harbor", "Pearl Harbor: The Japanese Perspective", Faith Hill music video and theatrical trailer. Additionally, the US edition includes the "Unsung Heroes of Pearl Harbor" documentary. Edit (Coming Soon)


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