The whole film is filled with spiritual symbolism. There are a number of crosses, streaming beams of heavenly light, the beauty of an undefiled Eden paradise and the overall theme of saving grace.
-Reviews by David Bruce
and Mike Furches


This page was created on June 29, 2000
and was updated on May 23, 2005

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Click to enlargeDirected by Michael Bay
Written by Randall Wallace

Ben Affleck .... Rafe McCawley
Josh Hartnett .... Danny Walker
Kate Beckinsale .... Evelyn Johnson
William Lee Scott .... Billy
Greg Zola .... Anthony Winkle
Ewen Bremner .... Red
Click to enlargeAlec Baldwin .... Doolittle
James King .... Betty
Catherine Kellner .... Barbara
Jennifer Garner .... Sandra
Michael Shannon .... Theo
Jon Voight .... President Roosevelt
Cuba Gooding Jr. .... Doris 'Dorie' Miller
Matthew Davis .... Joe
Mako .... Admiral Yamamoto
Click to enlargeJohn Fujioka .... Nishikura
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa .... Genda
Colm Feore .... Admiral Kimmel
Dan Aykroyd .... Captain Thurman
Reiley McClendon .... Young Danny
Jesse James .... Young Rafe
William Fichtner .... Danny's Father
Tom Everett .... Presidential Aide

Click to enlargeExectutive Producers: Scott Gardenhour, Bruce Hendricks, Chad Oman, Randall Wallace, Barry H. Waldman, Mike Stenson

Producers: Michael Bay, Jerry Bruckheimer

Associate Producers: Kenny Bates, K.C. Hodenfield, Jennifer Klei, Jennifer Klein, Pat Sandston

Line Producer: Selwyn Roberts (UK)

Original music by Hans Zimmer, Robert O. Ragland, John Williams (music from Midway, 1976.
Additional Music James S. Levine, Geoff Zanelli

PG-13 - for sustained intense war sequences, images of wounded, brief sensuality and some language.

It was the end of innocence,
and the dawn of a nation's greatest glory.

Click to enlargePEARL HARBOR
December 7, 1941: "A date which will live in infamy."
From producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Michael Bay comes Touchstone Pictures'/Jerry Bruckheimer Films' PEARL HARBOR, an epic saga of love and war. RAFE McCAWLEY and DANNY WALKER are two daring young pilots in the U.S. Army Air Corps who have grown up like brothers and first learned to fly in crop-dusting planes. Rafe has fallen in love with EVELYN STEWART, a beautiful and courageous nurse serving in the US Navy. But they are soon separated by war when Rafe volunteers for the Eagle Squadron, a group of Americans fighting alongside the English during the Battle of Britain.

Click to enlargeWith the solemn promise that he will return, Rafe heads off for the deadly skies above the English Channel, while both Evelyn and Danny are transferred to the paradise of Hawaii's Pearl Harbor. Their Eden is shattered however, when word reaches them in the Pacific that Rafe has been killed in combat. Grief-stricken, they hold fast to each other for support, and ultimately fall in love.

Then Rafe returns. His arrival breaks all three of their hearts; but before they have a chance to find resolution, the attack upon Pearl Harbor by the combined air and naval forces of Imperial Japan fractures their private worlds as it alters history.

Click to enlargeAmerica's response to the staggering emotional defeat at Pearl Harbor is to create one the most daring and unexpected military events in history: the bombing of Tokyo through a suicide mission led by aviation legend Jimmy Doolittle. When Colonel Doolittle picks Rafe and Danny to be his key leaders on the heroic raid, their lives and their love for Evelyn are once more at the center of this tale of passion and spectacular personal courage.

Yesterday, December 7, 1941 ? a date which will live in infamy ? the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
-- President Franklin D. Roosevelt's War Message to Congress [December 8, 1941]

I really appreciated the film's portrayal of President Roosevelt in a wheel chair. It is not the first film to do this, but I think it is the first film to portray it as an asset. One of the most tremendous scenes in the film is when Roosevelt is faced with a table full of US military leaders who have nothing but "can't do" excuses. Roosevelt places his hands on the sides of his wheelchair and struggles to stand. With great effort he finally stands on his withered legs, "Don't tell me that it can not be done."

Jon Voight, who portrays Roosevelt, received applause for the crew for this scene. Director Bay says that he had "never seen an actor get a round of applause from all the other actors in the room - seven times they cheered him after he did the scene in the presidential office with his cabinet. That's pretty amazing."

2 Cor. 12:7 -Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn't get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan's angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty!

Click to enlargeA NEW LOOK AT THE "ENEMY".
The Commander in Chief of The Imperial Japanese Navy, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto is played by Mako. "Historically, Hollywood pictures about World War II depict the Japanese as the evil side," he explains. "That's too much to cope with. Every war is started for a reason, usually economic, and in that sense this picture depicts the Japanese side in a fair light. There is no evil blackness about any of the characters."

Most Americans would be surprised to know that Yamamoto had been educated at Harvard and served as a naval attach? to various Japanese embassies, including the United States. When Japan first considered war with America, Yamamoto objected and was very vocal about his position against a strike.

Click to enlargeI truly appreciated the portrayal of the Japanese. As actor Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa who plays Commander Minoru Genda notes, "This film does justice to both sides, It honors both the Japanese and the Americans ...Pearl Harbor is such a sensitive issue for my parents' generation, It's not something you want to make an issue of again, other than to pay homage to everyone who fought and died ...I hope it will be a great tribute."

Rev. 14:6 -I saw another Angel soaring in Middle-Heaven. He had an Eternal Message to preach to all who were still on earth, every nation and tribe, every tongue and people.

Click to enlargeTHE WOMEN WHO SERVED
I think the world of Randall Wallace who wrote the film. I met him 3 years ago at the City of Angeles Film Festival. I have often wondered how he would retell the story of Pearl Harbor for this time. He did a great job because he focused on all kinds and types of people. Wallace says, Click to enlarge"I wanted to write about the kind of people who said, ?A fight's coming, and I'm not going to wait for it to come to me.' I wanted to write about the heroism suddenly required of a nurse who has never seen a battlefield injury before, who suddenly has thousands of dying men on her hands. So I invented characters and a story."

In the 3 photos below the transformation of the women can be clearly seen.
1. The arrival in Hawaii, the women are very casual as though they were on an all expenses paid holiday in a tropical paradise.
2. Dressed for duty in a hospital that knows has no patients. Social events with the boys was their main focus.
3. Then the attack and everything changes. Their dress and priorities take a major shift.

Click to enlargeClick to enlargeClick to enlarge

Although Pearl Harbor is an actual event, Wallace's story is entirely fiction, which gave Wallace the ability to explore new dimensions of the event. He gives a wonderful place to the memory of the women who served in some really amazing ways.

Pay attention to the opening scenes with the nurses talking about giving the men vaccinations. Very empowering scenes. A joy to watch. Thanks Randall!

Isaiah 32:10-11 In a short time?in just a little more than a year?you careless ones will suddenly begin to care. For your fruit crop will fail, and the harvest will never take place. Tremble, you women of ease; throw off your unconcern. Strip off your pretty clothes, and wear sackcloth in your grief.

Wallace did a very un-Hollywood thing. He presents delayed sexual activity between lovers as an ideal thing to do. I was pleasantly surprised when Rafe McCawley (Ben Affleck) did not jump into bed with his girl friend, Evelyn (Kate Beckinsale) the night before he leaves for overseas duty. Here is the dialogue:

Click to enlargeEvelyn: "If I had just one more night to live, I'd spend it with you."

Rafe: "I'm not trying to be noble. I's afraid. And the idea of having more love than I've ever had -and knowing I might never have it again -that scares me worse than anything. I will come back. Whatever happens. I will find a way."

They kiss. Hold hands then they force themselves apart.

The scene is almost revolutionary.

"Celibacy: Single blessedness." -William Shakespeare (1564?1616)
"It is with our passions, as it is with fire and water. They are good servants but bad masters." -Sir Roger L?Estrange (1616?1704)

Hearing of the "death" of Rafe, Evelyn seeks comfort in the arms of Rafe's best friend Danny. They go too far, too soon. Evelyn ends up pregnant. To complicate matters further Rafe "returns from the dead."

Click to enlargeWhat should have been a joyous reunion for the three of them, turned into a gut wrenching experience. The relationship between the three is now broken. Danny and Rafe were no longer best friends, despite the fact that they loved each other. Evelyn and Rafe were alienated from each other, in spite of the fact that they loved each other.

What ultimately happens is that the underlying love they have for each other ultimately manifests itself in amazing grace, forgiveness and reconciliation. I will not spoil the film for you with the details, but I will say it is a story of the triumph over sin by amazing grace.

"Abounding sin is the terror of the world, but abounding grace is the hope of mankind." -A. W. Tozer (1897?1963). "Grace binds you with far stronger cords than the cords of duty or obligation can bind you. Grace is free, but when once you take it, you are bound forever to the Giver and bound to catch the spirit of the Giver. Like produces like. Grace makes you gracious, the Giver makes you give." -E. Stanley Jones (1884?1973)

 Click to enlarge.REVOLVING DOORS.
Pay attention to the use of windows and doors in this film. When Rafe goes away to war, Evelyn for the last time sees him through a revolving glass door. Very symbolic. When Rafe returns "from the dead" we are reintroduced to him in the reflection of a glass door. Click to enlarge. Doors represent both closure and introduction. They also symbolize new dimensions and time passages. Windows present visions of truth and separation. The film combines these two powerful symbols. The movie UNBREAKABLE, SLIDING DOORS and SIXTH SENSE also used doors AND WINDOWS in similar fashion.

Jesus calls Himself ?the door? (John 10:7, 9). Faith in Him is the only way to enter the the next dimensions (heaven). God gave to the Gentiles ?the door of faith,? or an opportunity to know Him as Lord (Acts 14:27). Jesus stands at the door and knocks (Rev. 3:20). He calls all people to Himself, but will not enter without permission.

Nobody plays a baseball game this early on a Sunday morning. It's placed in the film as symbolic of the shift from innocence to devastation. From Paradise to Paradise Lost. It is the Garden of Eden story couched in an actual historical event. The incoming Japanese Zeros flying into Pearl Harbor to bomb it are placed against several foregrounds of innocence: A kids' baseball game, little girls playing like fairies, a cut-out full size Santa Claus, and two boys hiking on a hill.

Paradise Lost is the seventeenth-century epic poem by John Milton that is a classic of English literature. It is about creation, the fall of Lucifer, and the fall of humans. Milton explains that his purpose is to ?Justify the ways of God to men.?
 Click to enlarge.

A strong symbol of the fall of paradise is the Tropical Hawaiian Shirts worn by Rafe and Danny as they suddenly find themselves having to help the wounded Their shirts become dirty and bloody. Paradise had turned into a burning hell.
The Greek Old Testament (Septuagint) used ?paradise? to translate the Hebrew words for the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2-3. Over the years, the terms because synonymous, and eventually paradise came to refer to heaven. Jewish theology then developed an opposite place for wicked persons, gehenna, a burning furnace.

 Click to enlarge.Another strong symbolic event is seen when Evelyn pulls off her nylons to use as a medical tourniquets and the use of her lipstick to mark the foreheads of those who can helped and those are destined to die.
Hebrews 9:27 And just as it is destined that each person dies only once and after that comes judgment,

 Click to enlarge.SPIRITUALITY
The whole film is filled with spiritual symbolism. There are a number of crosses, streaming beams of heavenly light, the beauty of an undefiled Eden paradise and the overall theme of saving grace. Listen carefully to the words of the Chaplain as he ushers a young man into eternity as he is dying in a hospital bed. The suggestion of redemption through blood sacrifice is seen when the priest blesses the many bloody corpses of the many who gave their lives.
Blood has great significance in the Bible. Its meanings involve profound aspects of human life and God?s desire to transform human existence. The term ?blood of Christ? designates in the atoning death of Christ. Atonement refers to the basis and process by which estranged people become at one with God (atonement = at-one-ment).
 Click to enlarge. Click to enlarge.
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