Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tora! Tora! Tora!

Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)

Starring: Martin Balsam, Soh Yamamura, Joseph Cotten, Tatsuya Mihashi, E.G. Marshall, James Whitmore, Takahiro Tamura, Eijiro Tono, Jason Robards

This is the first World War II movie that we watched this term. Mama has our "movie schedule" lined up in chronological order, so this most definitely came first.

This is the story of the infamous Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i. It's a powerful, frustrating movie that gives you a very historically accurate account of the attack. It shows both the American and Japanese sides equally - and the Japanese parts of the movie are actually in Japanese with English subtitles! That adds a whole new dimension to the story.

Because the producers spent so much time being historically accurate, there are no fictional characters for us to get attached to and then watch them die. That was nice...sort of. There are no long, bloody scenes, but you do experience the shock and horror of such a surprise attack. When the different admirals and commanders start getting hints of a possible attack coming in the next few weeks, you root for them with all your might - but knowing that their message is ignored or comes to late. This movie leaves you slightly frustrated with the US high command, yet show cases the wonderful ability of our armed forces.

While this is my least favorite of the three WWII movies we've seen so far, I still think it's a great, educational film that anyone who wants to see the "real" story behind the "surprise" attack should watch.

Historical Timeframe: World War II - December 1941

Things to watch out for:
Ummm....this is the military so there is some objectionable language. Mainly one particular word that was repeated over and over again, so be aware of that. In fact, it seems the Japanese have their own equivalent of the word since it appears in the subtitles too :P

Historical Accuracy:
All the events, people and places in the movie are historic. You can look all of them up (including the two young pilots) and see pictures and read bios if you like.
One discrepancy is that the Japanese DID send a second wave of fighter planes to bomb Pearl Harbor thirty minutes after the first wave finished.

No half-dressed people, no romance, minimal blood :D

Throughout the film, you meet scores of famous US and Japanese commanders, captains and admirals. Unfortunately, they only give you their names about one time each. It's helpful to read a book about Pearl Harbor and be acquainted with the characters beforehand so the movie won't be too confusing.

Jo's Ratings;
Strength of Plot: *****
Strength of Characters: *** (I didn't particularly like any of them - oh, well :D)

Has anyone else seen this movie? What were your impressions of it?


  1. I did an in-depth WWII study a few years ago but never heard of this movie. Sounds, neat, though:)

    Btw, is it snowing there? It has been here all day. It's so thick now and the wind is so strong it's hard to see where you're going! Awesomeness.

  2. Hey Jo,

    Yes, we've seen that. We weren't particularly impressed with it...didn't care for the language or the whole japanese thing that much. :) In fact, after we had tried 2 or 3 WWII movies, I think we just gave up. It seemed like we just couldn't pick the right ones. None of them were that interesting...but maybe it's just us. ;)

    Same here, Nana! It's GORGEOUS!! It was pretty miserable all day, but not anymore.

  3. We watched that last year!! I found it slightly hard to understand because of all the foreign people, though. :P

    I highly suggest "The Scarlet and the Black" if you haven't watched that yet (for WWII). It has Christopher Plummer in it also.

  4. A favorite WW movie of ours is Sargent York! We actually know the family related to him!

    Its an awesome movie,based on a true story. the real sargent York actually picked out the actor to play him! :) I think its WW1,but still awesome!

  5. Oh yeah, Sergeant York is AWESOME! watch it.... ;)

  6. {Blythe and Molly} - We watched Sgt. York in the fall when we studied WWI. It was very good! Maybe I'll review that one too.

  7. My family has watched this movie every now and then, I think it's cool because I love the history of it! I love history on wars, especially the Civil War!

  8. I enjoyed this movie too, but since we have a very small tv, it was quite hard to read the subtitles...:(

    My Grandpa was in the navy during WWII under Hulse, (spelling?) which is part of the reason I enjoyed the movie. :)