This Saturday is the 78th anniversary of the date that continues to live in infamy, the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
|image from here|
I’ve written about it a couple of times before, offering some of the history, here and here. I’ll just repeat some of the stats, so we can see how big this attack was.
Nine US ships were sunk, 21 damaged, 3 beyond repair. Some 2,403 were killed, including 68 civilians. An additional 1,178 were injured. (Japan lost 29 out of 350 attacking aircraft, plus their midget sub.) Until 9/11/2001 there was never as large an attack on the United States. The following day, President Roosevelt gave the speech including the phrase, “a date that will live in infamy.” The US declared war on Japan. Four days later Hitler declared war against the US, and from that point on isolationism was out of the question. Instead, the goal was to completely thwart the tyrannists trying to put the world under their control, and to offer freedom as widely as possible. No other outcome was acceptable, and the United States was the special part of the world given the mission.
Following the war, the US did not subsume the losing parties; we helped them recover and live up to their promises to avoid future aggression. Japan and Germany could not have suffered loss to a greater victor. After the war, US generosity helped rebuild the war ravaged areas.
We still need to have the same mission—to thwart tyranny and offer freedom as widely as possible. There’s no room for cynicism in this effort. And I prefer that we wake to the need for heroes to stand against tyranny without yet another existential attack to get our attention.
I was pleased that the new movie Midway is a respectful look at this historical moment. The first quarter of the movie recounts the attack on Pearl Harbor. Then comes the rest of the Midway story—the Doolittle bombing raid of Japan in April 1942, then the Battle of the Coral Sea in May, followed at last by the Battle of Midway in June—which thwarted the tyrannical aims of the Japanese and pushed them back away from our shores.
The guys in our family always like a good war movie. I don’t always feel that way. There are some standouts, but they tend to be about specific people more than overall strategy for me. I’m always pleased if the movie can tell the story in a way that covers the strategy in a way that my non-strategic mind can understand. This one does that (with a couple of minor fails on my part, when I didn’t know why Nimitz was moving certain pieces on the big map table).
|scene from the 2019 movie Midway|
image found here
I understood the intelligence officers and code breakers, and the way they presented their evidence. I understood the trap they were setting for Admiral Yamamoto. And I understood the essential need to stop the Japanese onslaught.
Much of the story is told through a pilot named Lt. Dick Best, who was cockier before the lives of men were placed in his hands, but resolute in a way that made the difference. We also see Admirals Nimitz and Halsey (Nimitz was portrayed by Woody Harrelson, who not only looked the part, but didn’t look crazed as he often does in the parts he plays).
One difficulty I have with war movies is the quick cutting of scenes without full context. We’re shown the cockpit of one of the characters that has become important to us. Then we see a plane hit and exploding, and we can’t quite tell if that was the hero we just lost—until he shows up again a few scenes later. I have this same problem with Star Wars movies.
But the parts I do understand and see clearly were brilliant. It’s beautifully filmed. The CGI doesn’t call attention to itself. The acting is excellent. And, even knowing the outcome of the basic history of the Battle of Midway, it induced nail biting as we hoped we wouldn’t lose any more heroes.
|Luke Evans (L) plays Lt. Wade McClusky; Ed Skrein play Lt. Dick Best,|
who were real-life heroes in the Battle of Midway
image from the movie Midway, found here
There is some gore, particularly in the Pearl Harbor section of the film. But it’s at a PG-13 level, not R. I can’t stomach the gore in an R movie, but what is briefly shown in this one helps tell the story; it brings up some of the feelings I imagine 1940s Americans were feeling.
I’m so glad there wasn’t any pandering to an “America is also the bad guy” sophistry that shows up so often these days. In addition, this managed to be respectful to the Japanese as well.
There’s a good review of this movie in last week’s The Epoch Times, here.
If you’re looking for a way to honor the Greatest Generation, that responded to Pearl Harbor and helped keep us free from tyranny, treat yourself to the new movie Midway.