History Lessens

Pearl Harbor is a Bay that will live in infamy

A great movie has been made on this subject: Otto Preminger's 1965 masterpiece In Harm's Way. Built around a similar juxtaposition of the intimate and epic, Preminger's film is full of graceful tracking shots through officers' balls and shades-drawn bungalows; a ripe Patricia Neal manages to make even John Wayne seem sexy. Where In Harm's Way is airport-novel kitsch raised to the level of art, Pearl Harbor is the same dumb concatenation of low gags and Kodak moments that make up the rest of the Bruckheimer-Bay canon, but with the veneer of civic duty, the pretense of higher purpose that makes it deadly. As Bay allows his frenetic-salesman style to become neutered, one comes to a ghastly realization: This guy really thinks he's an artist.

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