In The Darkrnby George McCartneyrnHistory LiternMost films have a signature moment, arnscene that suggests the whole. ProducerrnJerrv Bruckheimer and director MichaelrnBay have signed their feverishly silly PearlrnHarbor with two strategically counterpoisedrnimages that surface in the aftermathrnof the Japanese attack. Kate Beckinsale,rnplaving Naw nurse Evelyn Stewart,rnis taking blood from two voung fighter pilotsrnlying side by side in hospital beds. Asrnit happens, the handsome donors, RafernMcCawley (Ben Affleck) and DannyrnWalker (Josh Hartnett), are both herrnloers. (Don’t get ideas; she’s not thatrnkind of nurse. I’ll explain later.) The firstrnof the signature shots comes when therncamera cuts to the receptacles she’s usingrnto catch her lovers’ blood. Having runrnlow on the customar)’ containers, she’s resourcefulh’rnsnaked the draining tubes intornhvo Coke bottles. Cute. A few scenesrnlater, the cuteness doubles with the secondrnshot in which we see people sippingrncola from red-white-and-blue Pepsi bottles.rnRegardless of its grim subject, thisrnmoie is determined to effervesce withrnall-American commercial cheer.rnBut there’s something odd here. ThernPcpsiCola company is on record as havingrnadopted its now-familiar patrioticrnhues to support America’s war effort. Itrnseems smprising, then, they would alreadyrnhave been in evidence on the dayrnbefore we declared war on Japan. WerernPepsi’s executives so prescient that theyrnknew hostilities were inevitable and decidedrnto seize their goodwill markehngrnopportunit’ betimes? Not likely. PerhapsrnFranklin Delano Roosevelt hadrnbrought them into his confidence, revealingrnhis strategy’ to provoke the Japaneserninto an attack. But no, this couldn’trnbe — not on this film’s grounds, anywav.rnIts narrative gives absolutely no indica-rnHon that Roosevelt had any ulterior designsrnon the Japanese. (Wliile it’s hardlyrncredible that FDR would have welcomedrnthe Pearl Harbor attack, historicalrnresearch clearly demonstrates he wasrnhoping for some kind of lesser assault inrnthe Pacific, just enough to force Congressrnto join him in declaring the war hernthought America must fight.)rnBay and his scriptwriter, Randall Wal-rnPearl HarborrnProduced by jerry Bruckheimer Filmsrnand Touchstone PicturesrnDirected by Michael BayrnScreenplay by Randall WallacernReleased by Buena Vista PicturesrnA Knight’s TalernProduced by Columbia PicturesrnCorporation and Escape ArtistsrnWritten and directed byrnBrian HelgelandrnReleased by Columbia andrnSony Picturesrnlace, go to great lengths to dispel any suspicionsrnconcerning Roosevelt. We’rerntold that the attack’s architect. AdmiralrnIsoroku Yamamoto (Mako), was sendingrnout scores of coded messages all mentioningrndifferent possible targets, thusrnconfusing our intelligence gatherers.rnFurther, we learn America’s chief cryptographerrnhadn’t broken the code entirelyrnand was reduced to guessing at Japan’srnintentions. (This is not true. The U.S.rnmilitary was reading the Japanese codernquite easily by 1940.) Roosevelt, as reverentlyrnplayed by Jon Voight, seemsrnshocked and devastated when the attackrncomes. Regathering his wits, he demandsrnimmediate retaliation against Japan.rnWlien his advisors tell him this would bernimpossible given America’s state of militaryrnunpreparedness, he unlocks his legrnbraces, struggles painfully from hisrnwheelchair to his feet, and thunders, “Dornnot tell me that it can’t be done!” Wow!rnHe would have been perfect for Nike’srn”Just Do It” campaign.rnThis is a Coke-and-Pepsi movie. It’srnmore interested in feel-good equal-opportunityrnproduct placement than wrestlingrnwith inconvenient historical facts. Thisrncommercial spirit has guided the film’srntreatment of the warring nations. Likernthe competing colas, America and Japanrnare, beneath their superficial differences,rnboth wholesome homes to their bravernand patriotic peoples. Before the bombsrnfall, young servicemen in Hawaii arerngadding about with flotillas of nubilernnurses on their arms. In their quieter moments,rnhowever, they’re all filled with noblernwarrior yearning. As one says withrnwistful disappointment, “We’re as farrnfrom the war as we can get.” (Talk aboutrnironic foreshadowing.) Clearly, thesernboys hanker to do something drastic.rnRafe does: He joins the Royal Air Force.rnOn his arrival in England, his Britishrncommanding officer wonders if he has arndeath wish. Affleck juts his jaw andrnreplies evenly, “I’m not anxious to die,rnjust anxious to matter.”rnThe Hawaiian and European scenesrnare punctuated by cuts to Japan, wherernwe watch young Zero pilots training enthusiasticallvrnfor their heroic mission asrnYamamoto reluctantiy plans the operation.rnClose-ups of the admiral’s torturedrnface duly register his regret that he mustrnbomb his roundeyed brothers. But whatrncan he do? “They’ve cut off our oil lines;rnwe have only 18 months left,” he laments.rn(This is true. In July 1941, America,rnBritain, and the Netherlands frozernJapanese assets, reducing their trade byrn75 percent and their oil supply by 90.rnStill, the film never connects the dotsrnleading back to FDR’s Pacific strategy.)rnIn the background, we see Japanese childrenrnflying kites in a sky of incandescentrnblue. The green, sun-gilded landscape belowrnbespeaks nothing but peace. Whenrnan assistant commends Yamamoto forrnthe brilliance of his plan, he somberlyrnreplies, “A brilliant man would find a wayrnnot to fight a war.” (The Koreans andrnChinese might be forgiven their skepticismrnon this point, having repeatedly andrnbrutally been the objects of Japan’s imperialrnaiubitions.)rnAs much as possible. Bay and Wallacernhave studiously smoothed away unpleasantries.rnWe never see the Japanese asrnanything other than admirably heroic —rnwith good reason. The film’s distributor,rnBuena Vista International, a division ofrnDisney, intends to circulate it in thernJapanese market. Of course, it will be arndifferent version from the one seen here.rnIt has been reported that (among other alterations)rnthe studio will lop off the ending,rnwhich dramatizes Jimmy Doolittle’srnhigh-risk bombing raid on Tokyo (undertakenrnto revenge the Pearl Harbor attack),rnwill be trimmed. After all, Japanesernchildren have only recenfly beenrnAUGUST 2001/47rnrnrn