Almost 59 years after the roar of Japanese planes was heard over the island of O`ahu, "Kate" torpedo bombers, "Val" dive bombers and "Zero" fighters once again filled the skies in April and May of 1990 as part of location filming for the $140 million Disney/Touchstone romantic drama Pearl Harbor.
Pearl Harbor focuses on the life-changing events surrounding December 7, 1941, and the war's devastating impact on two daring young pilots (Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett) and a beautiful, dedicated nurse (Kate Beckinsale). It is a tale of catastrophic defeat, heroic victory, personal courage and overwhelming love set against a stunning backdrop of spectacular wartime action.
World War II vintage aircraft were collected from museums and private collections and brought to Hawaii for the filming of the December 7, 1941 attack on the United States Pacific Fleet. Filming was done at several locations on O`ahu including Ford Island, Fort Shafter, Pearl Harbor, and Wheeler Air Force Base. Numerous ships, including the Battleship USS Missouri and frigate Whipple were used as stand-ins for the actual ships that were attacked and sunk.
In proper respect for the servicemen who died in the attack, both the crew and stars of the film gathered at the Arizona Memorial on Sunday, April 2, 2000 in a special ceremony. Three wreaths - from Touchstone Pictures, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and director Michael Bay - were dropped into Pearl Harbor's still-oily water to honor the memory of those who gave their lives.
A subsequent news conference included filmmakers, representatives of the United States Navy, and Hawaii Governor Benjamin Cayetano. In an interview with the Honolulu Star Bulletin, Cayetano expressed his belief that the film will bolster the state's economy and promote Hawaii to the world. He indicated, however, that the film's main attribute is education. "There are too many generations of Americans who don't know the Pearl Harbor story." he said, "This movie will help this generation and generations to come."
Following a formula which was so successful with the 1997 film Titanic, Pearl Harbor sets a romantic personal story within a historic event of great tragedy and loss. Producer Bruckheimer and the writers of the screenplay claim to have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of the historical information depicted in the film. Historians, military and survivors in both the United States and Japan were consulted in virtually every aspect of the story.
The film, however, is not without its critics, who claim that historical inaccuracies were clearly evident during the filming in Hawaii. Criticisms range from the color of camouflage and paint on airplanes, ground vehicles and ships, to the dilapidated look of what is portrayed as Wheeler Field (when in reality much of the facilities in the Pearl Harbor area were brand new in 1941). It should be noted, however, that in any effort to depict an era and an event that occurred nearly 60 years before, complete accuracy is often neither affordable nor possible.
NEXT PAGE - Shooting Schedule and World Premier