"Tora! Tora! Tora!" is the Japanese signal to attack - and the movie meticulously recreates the attack on Pearl Harbor and the events leading up to it. Opening scenes contrast the American and Japanese positions. Japanese ... more »imperialists decide to stage the attack. Top U.S. brass ignore it's possibility. Intercepted Japanese messages warn of it - but never reach F.D.R.'s desk. Radar warnings are disregarded. Even the entrapment of a Japanese submarine in Pearl Harbor before the attack goes unreported. Ultimately the Day of Infamy arrives - in the most spectacular, gut-wrenching cavalcade of action-packed footage ever. You'll see moments of unsurpassed spectacle and heroism: U.S. fighters trying to take off and being hit as they taxi; men blasted from the decks of torpedoed ships while trying to rescue buddies; savage aerial dogfights pitting lone American fliers against squadrons of Imperial war planes. It's the most dazzling recreation of America's darkest day - and some of her finest hours.« less
Excellent and authentic down to the last detail.....
Dianne Foster | USA | 05/06/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm not a big war-movie buff any more (THE SEARCH FOR PRIVATE RYAN cured me) but this is a worthwhile film if you have an interest in WWII. TORA! TORA! TORA! is a documentary-type film. Think of it as a Stephen Ambrose book recorded live. The film is neither a glorified fifties war-film (IN HARMS WAY, BATTLE OF THE CORAL SEA), nor is it a Viet Nam noir-war film (PLATOON, THE DEER HUNTER). (Neither of which are particularly authentic.) TORA! TORA! TORA! recreates war from the perspective of news correspondent-participant-observer. The story is presented from both the Japanese and American viewpoints and it is presented like a History Channel film.It took the film crew several months to film TORA! TORA! TORA! I was living in Navy housing on Pearl Harbor at the time and a number of our friends and acquaintences found part-time jobs acting in the film. "Real" military pilots in-between rounds in Viet Nam flew some of the planes (this was 1969).Much of the architecture in Honolulu was vintage WWII era or earlier and the rest of the island was relatively unchanged from the 1940s. The terrain looked very much as it had when my father-in-law passed through on his way to Guadalcanel and later Iwo Jima. I cannot tell you the names of the aircraft (my husband could) but I was told that they used real aircraft from the period including the P40s the U.S. flew and the captured Zeros the Japanese flew. We drove up to Schoffield Barracks to look at the old airplanes lined up row on row. During the filming, one of these old planes crashed in a sugar cane field and burned up before the pilot could be rescued. The daily flights overhead, the real crashes, the reenactment of the destruction in the harbor, the daily flights in and out of Hickam as men and material destined for Viet Nam left and wounded and dead arrived--was all very weird. Well, this is an excellent film. The new PEARL HARBOR relies on all sorts of technology, but if you want to see how Hawaii really looked in 1941 and how the planes really looked, and how the crews really looked, and obtain some sense of how terrifying it was to be in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 this is the film to see."
"Confirmation? There's your confirmation!"
Betty June Moore | Douglas, Georgia USA | 01/12/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first saw Tora! Tora! Tora! (Tiger! Tiger! Tiger! in Japanese) in 1974, when I was 20 years old on Atlanta's Channel Two. As strange as this may sound, I have always liked movies about World War II. My stepfather had served in the Navy during the war and in fact he had joined the service shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which is the subject of this 2 hour and 25 minute-long Japanese-American 1970 production. This movie was directed by several directors including Toshio Masuda and Kinji Fukasuka, but the American version (yes, there is a Japanese version) gives the credit to veteran director Richard Fleischer. Based on Gordon W. Prange's "Tora! Tora! Tora!" and Ladislas Farago's "The Broken Seal", the film accurately depicts the events on both sides of the Pacific leading up to the stunning attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet on Sunday, December 7, 1941.
Even though it covers an 18-month period between Admiral Yamamoto's (Soh Yamamura) initial planning for Operation Hawaii and the attack itself, Tora! Tora! Tora! (the title refers to the code used to inform the Japanese that the Americans had been caught by surprise) never drags or seems dull. I learned, for instance, that Japanese Ambassador Nomura was a skilled and honorable diplomat who did not know what his country's military leaders were planning, and that he hoped to avoid war. I was also stunned by how General Walter C. Short (Jason Robards) was so preoccupied by the threat of sabotage from Hawaii's 125,000 Japanese inhabitants that he foolishly parked all the bombers and fighters in Hickam and Wheeler Fields in neat rows, supposedly to make them easier to guard but actually making them sitting ducks.
What amazed me about watching this movie is how clueless Pearl Harbor's defenders were on that Sunday morning. Though many people think the first shot of the Pacific War was fired by the Japanese, it was actually fired by the USS Ward on a Japanese midget submarine trying to sneak into the harbor. This happened roughly an hour before the first bomb fell on Battleship Row. I would have thought that the report of an unknown submarine being fired upon in a restricted area would have alerted the whole fleet. Wrong! American officers in Oahu were so certain that the Japanese would be spotted long before they could launch a strike that Captain James Earle (Richard Anderson) asks for confirmation before he tells his superiors. This does not make Adm. Husband E. Kimmel (Martin Balsam) very happy and I thought he was very angry that the Ward's initial report did not reach him in time.
The movie makes clear to the audience that history often hinges on small but significant details. Who would have thought that the fate of two great nations would be decided by a diplomat's slow typing speed, or that a report of a large radar blip off to the north of Oahu would be received with the phrase, "Well, don't worry about it."? It sounds like bad fiction but everything in this movie is based on historical fact.
Tora! Tora! Tora! has incredible battle scenes. Most of the aerial scenes were shot using either vintage planes or realistic replicas (because there are no flying Zero fighters, T-28 Texans were modified to look like the famous Japanese planes). The Navy actually allowed 20th Century-Fox to film in and around Pearl Harbor and rented a World War II era carrier that was to be decommissioned to serve as a stand in for the Japanese carrier. Clever editing, good miniature effects and carefully built live action sets give the illusion that one is actually reliving the Day of Infamy.
The 60th Anniversary Special Edition DVD was released around the same time as 2001's Pearl Harbor. It features an all new 20-minute documentary, director's commentary, the orginal theatrical trailer, and restores the movie to its original widescreen format. It has four audio tracks (English 4.1, the commentary, English Dolby Surround, French Mono), and subtitles in English and Spanish."
The Day Of Infamy Recreated To Chilling Perfection
Michael Daly | Wakefield, MA USA | 03/27/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Many films attempt to tell true stories. One of the few that does justice to its subject is Tora! Tora! Tora!, a full-scale recreation of Pearl Harbor and the events leading up to the Day Of Infamy.Verisimilitude permeates throughout the film, from the full-sized mockups of Japanese aircraft carriers and the battleship Nagano to the Japanese Zero, Kate, and Val aircraft and American P-40 Warhawk fighters to the miniature and full-sized models of American battleships. Much of the combat footage was shot at Pearl itself and surrounding Air Force bases, while miniature work blends splendidly into the action.The enormous cast captures the exchanges of ideas and arguments among the various players involved in the attack. The most sympathetic player is Admiral Yamamoto. The film very nicely captures his lack of desire to go to war with an America that could not possibly lose a war with Japan based on the comparative industrial power of both nations. Also captured is the greater bloodthirstiness of fellow Imperial Japanese Navy officers, leading to a chilling scene during final pre-sortie debriefing when Yamamoto orders that the First Air Fleet abort the mission should negotiations with America succeed; fellow officers universally reject such an order, until Yamamoto hisses that any officer unwilling to follow should resign at once.Also captured are the motions of General Walter Short (Jason Robards) and Admiral Husband Kimmel (Martin Balsam), working to second-guess Japanese intentions minus intelligence data available to US Navy intelligence in Washington. Navy intelligence accurately guesses that intercepted Japanese diplomatic messages indicate Tokyo to be preapring for war, but there is never any indication that Pearl Harbor itself will be attacked.But it is, and the attack is brilliantly recreated. Battleships are hit by torpedos and bombs, planes parked together to prevent sabotage are slaughtered trying to take off, and the result is the greatest naval disaster suffered by American arms.But Admiral Yamamoto knows that what will result will be catastrophic for Japan, and the film ends with him staring into the sky - into the future.For sheer perfection, Tora! Tora! Tora! succeeds."
The Compelling True Story of America's Entry into WWII
Paul | New Orleans | 12/06/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first saw this film many years ago when it was a movie of the week on network TV. Like any kid, I was interested in the battle scenes, and by the time I'd graduated with a Communications degree, I dismissed this movie out of hand as a faithful, but unexceptional telling of the Battle of Pearl Harbor.Mea Culpa!! I finally saw this film in widescreen format, and this movie's artistic value magnified ten-fold. The idea for this film was inspired: an American director would shoot the American scenes telling the USA side of the battle, and a Japanese director would tell the Japanese side of the story. Originally the legendary Akira Kurasowa was hired to direct the Japanese side of the story, but after a falling out, Toshio Masuda ended up directing the Japanese side of the film. Richard Fleischer directed the American sequences.Fleischer does a fine job, but Masuda is absolutely brilliant. The Japanese side of the story is the more compelling side of the story, but Masuda truly does a masterful job of setting forth scenes of eloquence and power in telling the story of highly motivated people whose actions will doom their country.Despite truth being stranger than fiction, Hollywood all too often needlessly flushes historical truth down the toilet ("JFK" anyone?). Fortunately, this powerful story is meticulous in its historical accuracy. With a compelling muscial score and great special effects, especially considering the age of this film, this is a film which should appeal to movie lovers and history buffs both.IMPORTANT!! This is a film which can ONLY be appreciated in widescreen/DVD format. The dogfight sequences, the impressive sets and much of the drama is lost in the version formatted for TV, resulting in the butchering of a masterpiece."
I Fear All We Have Done Was to Awaken a Sleeping Giant
Martin Asiner | jersey city, nj United States | 10/07/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There are not many movies that portray the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor as anything but what it was--a carefully planned massive assault on a totally unprepared United States naval base. TORA TORA TORA is not Hollywood's typical war movie that places character exposition at the forefront. Here directors Toshio Masuda and Kinji Fukasaku for the Japanese and Richard Fleischer for the United States detail a film that is more documentary than character driven. Yet, despite this sense of hidden-camera reality that focuses on all ranks from admiral to seaman, the actors succeed in infusing the film with a feeling that on both sides there were no heroes or villans. In fact, if there is any villainy, it is not the attacking Japanese who must wear the mantle of evil but rather the slipshod arrogance of those who were entrusted to defend Pearl Harbor against just the kind of annihilation that struck on that Sunday morning in December, 1941. The Japanese side is told primarily through the perspective of Admiral Yamamoto (So Yamamura), who was in overall command of the attack fleet, and Lt. Commander Fuchida (Takahiro Tamura), who was one of the Zero pilots on the first attack wave. Yamamoto is a cautious commander, one who has no political agenda, but is determined to carry out his objective exactly even if it means not taking advantage of unexpected opportunities to wreak further destruction on American ships. He will preserve his fleet above all else. Fuchida has a much more narrow view; when he sees that a second attack wave is needed to finish the job, he is appalled that Yamamoto has instead ordered the fleet to return to Japan. Neither of them is presented as the stereotyped buck-toothed sabre-rattling Jap so often presented in a previous generation's war movie. Each in his own way is strictly business. The American side is anchored by Martin Balsam as Admiral Kimmel and Richard Anderson as Captain Earle. Kimmel is a competent commander who discovers too late that bureaucratic bungling of misguided messages can have the most tragic of consequences. When the attack begins, he is stunned but quickly organizes what defenses he has. The fall guy is Earle, who might have gained a precious few hours of advanced warning had he heeded the implications of frantic radio messages suggesting an attack was imminent. Yet, Earle is a one-dimensional stick man who collectively symbolizes the head-in-the-sand myopia that then afflicted US military intelligence about the oncoming Rising Sun whirlwind. TORA TORA TORA is a film of rapidly shifting points of view. The first three quarters is a microscopic analysis of the events preceding the attack. The Japanese are seen as supremely confident that they will achieve total surprise. In fact, when the first Zero fighters are in view of Pearl, they are astounded to note that not one shot has been fired at them. An American radar station operator notes that his radar screen shows a massive inflight of unidentified planes, but a call to his superiors results in his being told not to worry. The American fleet and dozens of combat planes are neatly stacked in rows, just waiting to be picked off. The Americans, by contrast, are blithely oblivious to what now seems like unmistakable warnings of looming disaster. In Washington, Japanese ambassadors Nomura (Shogo Shimada) and Kurusu (Hisao Toake) wait patiently outside the door of Secretary of State Cordell Hull, knowing full well what was then occuring on the other end of the world. For the briefest moment, Nomura is seen as a man who is profoundly saddened that he is a forced puppet mouthing words of a futile peace. All of the behind the scenes style of film making is needed as a segue to the catastrophic air assault on Pearl. The attack, which lasts for an extended thirty minutes, is stunningly effective, even more so than the computer-enhanced graphics of the recent remake with Ben Affleck. Essentially, the Japanese airplanes swoop down and destroy both docked ship and arrayed plane. The return fire is piecemeal. Here and there is a spirited ra-ta-ta by a lone America gunner. The surprise is complete. Three battleships are sunk, and nearly every plane is destroyed on the ground. These scenes of carnage are difficult to watch, yet they serve to remind us that eternal vigilance is needed for a proud country to survive. The dramatic focus of the movie is not on the destruction of the Pacific fleet at all, but surprisingly on the Japanese view of that destruction. The Japanese had intended to declare war first, and then to attack, but a bungling on their part reversed this order. A despondent Admiral Yamamoto concludes the film by noting to his otherwise jubilantly cheering subordinates: "I can hardly imagine a way that is more likely to infuriate the Americans. I fear that all we have done was to awaken a sleeping giant." TORA TORA TORA is unique among war films in that it shows that even in war, there are men of good conscience who are caught up in matters over which they have very little control."