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A&E Home Video presents

Pearl Harbor (2000)

"You must remember Pearl Harbor. It is a lesson of being complacent. Don't let individualism blind you. You still need to think of the country as a whole. We always must be prepared. If you are not prepared, you'll pay in blood."- John F. Virgilio, Hawaii Dir., Pearl harbor History Assoc.

Director: Laura Verklan, Don Horan

Manufacturer: DVSS
MPAA Rating: Not RatedRun Time: 02h:30m:00s
Release Date: 2001-04-24
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer


DVD Review

The day that has lived in infamy is given a typically high-quality History Channel examination in this two-disc set. The documentary is very even-handed as it includes reminiscences from both American and Japanese participants in the battle. Some might say too even-handed, as there are parallels drawn between the sneak attack of December 1941 and the atomic bomb attacks of 1945. It is unwise, I believe, to compare the two even remotely. I would be surprised if anyone really thinks that the A-Bomb was somehow payback for the Pearl Harbor raid.

"I was up on the deck waiting to go raise the flags. I can remember saying to the kid next to me, a friend of mine, that 'I never knew we had so many planes in the air' and he said, 'Neither did I.' They just flew right on by and right over the battleships. I remember saying, 'That looks like the real McCoy.'" - Robert West, Musician First Class, USS Oklahoma

Tora, Tora, Tora: The True Story of Pearl Harbor

The tale begins with the political climate in the Pacific, as the Japanese continued their drive to dominate the area and brought themselves into direct conflict with American interests. When negotiations failed, Admiral Yamamoto was given the go ahead to attempt to wipe out the American fleet in one attack. There is some controversy surrounding supposed diplomatic foul-ups that prevented the notification from Japan that they were at war with the U.S. Thus, the raid is generally considereda "sneak" attack in a war that had not been declared.

The documentary uses archival footage, computer animation, and interviews with participants from both sides to detail the raid and the carnage that ensued. The documentary contains a detailed description of the tragic destruction of the USS Arizona and many examples of heroism in fighting back against the attack and attempting to find survivors. There is a harrowing tale of rescuing sailors trapped inside the overturned USS Oklahoma for up to 36 hours.

Frank discussions of how the attack happened and its consequences add highlights to the viewing. In an interesting sequence, survivors from both sides meet and try to find reconciliation against events that had so dominated their lives. This is a worthy addition to any World War II documentary collections and will definitely find its place on the shelves of libraries.

"There were three famous theater commanders in World War II: Eisenhower, MacArthur and Nimitz. But, if you look at the three and ask this question: 'Which one won great victories when the odds were even or maybe a little less?' and there's one of them that fits that criteria - Admiral Nimitz." - Richard Frank, author of Guadacanal: The Definitive Story

Admiral Chester Nimitz: Thunder of the Pacific

Chester Nimitz is an easy figure to forget when recounting the "great" commanders of World War II. An unassuming man, Nimitz was the mastermind of one of the greatest military campaigns in human history. He took over command of a fleet that had been decimated by the attack on Pearl Harbor. Using heavily out-gunned carrier task forces headed by Admiral "Bull" Halsey, Nimitz immediately sent his troops on the offensive and within 6 months had the Japanese on the run.

A really amazing story told very well, this documentary provides plenty of detail about Nimitz's career and what it was that made him the man that could command the greatest naval force ever assembled against such an experienced and powerful opponent as the Japanese.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Overall, the image transfer is quite solid. As the material comes from a wide variety of sources, the quality scale goes from bad to good with the animated sequences excellent in contrast. The color comes and goes but the black levels are decent. About what you can expect and a pleasure to watch.

Image Transfer Grade: B

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: The soundtrack is an unobtrusive and a professional Dolby Stereo transfer. Solid work. Nice mixture of narration, interview, music and sound effects - nothing to work out your system, but sufficient for the documentary style.

Audio Transfer Grade:

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 25 cues and remote access
1 Documentaries
Packaging: Amaray
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Pearl Harbor Facts
Extras Review: The extras are decent but not spectacular. The Pearl Harbor Facts are somewhat limited especially when compared to what possibly could have been included.

America's Five-Star Heroes (50m:00s) is really another complete episode from The History Channel that includes a large amount of the same Nimitz biography but also covers several other of the important commanders of American Forces in World War II. Odd that it is included as a bonus program and thus not indexed like the other programs on the discs. It does include a nice sequence describing the life and career of "Bull" Halsey and section that covers the inimitable Douglas MacArthur. Definitely worth watching.

Extras Grade: C+

Final Comments

This set will serve as a fine "true story" companion to the upcoming big-screen motion picture of Pearl Harbor. With The History Channel's usual attention to the people behind the events, viewers will learn much about what happened and why. Recommended for history buffs.

Jesse Shanks 2001-05-04