allowed to hear about the war in theirrnclassrooms. We mustn’t be insensitive.rnBefore the film opens in Germany, norndoubt Bay will prune its unflatteringrnnewsreel footage of Hitler and his troops.rnHey, why not? Relax. Have a Coke. Have arnPepsi. Or, ifyou’re German, have Deutschland’srnsoft-drink alternative: Afri-Cola.rnKick back and enjoy the show. The theaterrnof war has rarely been so entertaining.rnProjects like this are invulnerable torncritical analysis. Pearl Harbor is an extraordinaryrnexercise in achieving marketrnreach, a film designed to please ever’rnmember of its global audience. An alltoo-rnfamiliar corporate smarminess pervadesrnthe entire enterprise with its onernguiding principle: Offend absolutely nornone. Everything shimmers with a softrnglow of burnished goodwill, signaled byrnrepeated shots of huge setting and risingrnsuns that invoke both the rustic Americanrninnocence of our heroes’ Midwesternrnupbringing and the triumphal imageryrnof the Japanese flag. As in war, so inrnmarketing: The first casualty is truth.rnFor pure cynicism, howe’er, nothingrnbeats the film’s love story. This brings usrnback to Nurse Evelyn and her two flyboys.rnAt first, she falls for Rafe, who unexpectedlyrnproves himself a gentieman.rnHe pledges his commitment to her onrnthe eve of his departure for England byrnnot going to bed with her. Later, he asksrnhis best friend, Danny, to take care ofrnEvelyn if “something happens to me.”rnThus, we’re not in the least surprisedrnwhen, after blasting the better part of thernLuftwaffe out of the air, Rafe is shot downrnand reported dead. Danny dutifullyrnbrings the news to Evelyn. Soon after, asrnthey pledge eternal loyalty to Rafe’srnmemory, they predictably fall into eachrnother’s arms. Of course, Rafe, indelicatelyrnalive, turns up in Hawaii on Decemberrn6, just days after Evelyn discovers she’srncarr’ing Danny’s baby. (Could this be arnLooking for arngood video?rnCheck outrnGeorge McCartney’srnreviews from ourrnback issues online atrnwww.ChrotiiclcsMaj^azini’.orfirnheads-up regarding the inconveniencesrnof premarital sex?) Before the ensuing recriminationsrnand soul-searching get veryrnfar, December 7 dawns, and Japanesernbombers wing ominously into view,rnbuzzing over a boys’ baseball game and arnlittle girl’s birthday party on their way tornyou-know-where. (Yes, it’s 7:55 A.M. on arnSunday, but this is a Coke-and-Pepsirnfilm; you’ve got to have something bothrnterribly moving and sweetly picturesquernto sell product.) What follows is a trulyrndazzling 40-minute recreation of thernJapanese attack, complete with computer-rngenerated Zeros buzzing above andrnbetween U.S. carriers and battleships likernangry wasps on speed. I must concede Irnwas impressed. Many will find this sequencernmakes the rest of the film bearable.rnWhen the explosions end and thernships are sunk and the desperate sailorsrntrapped in the capsized U.S.S. Arizonarnhave drowned, we (unfortunately) mustrnreturn to the romantic triangle’s denouement.rnCatching Rafe alone, Evelyn tellsrnhim that she had wanted to explainrnthings, but “then all this happened.”rn”This,” of course, is the attack, duringrnwhich nearly 2,400 people died andrnthousands were grievously wounded. InrnCasablanca, Humphrey Bogart hadrnsense enough to tell Ingrid Bergmanrntheir romantic dilemma didn’t “amountrnto a hill of beans” compared to the conflagrafionrnsurrovinding them. Here, thernhill of beans is left to smolder in the harbor.rnTrying to ease Rafe’s distress, Evelynrnreveals her family condition. “I’ll alwaysrnlove you,” she tearfidly assures him, “butrnI’m going to give my heart to Danny.”rnRafe, of course, becomes instantly graciousrnabout it all, going off to make hisrnpeace witii the father-to-be. A wad of nobilityrnthis large challenges the gag reflexrnunconscionably. And there’s more,rnmuch more — another 40 minutes, inrnfact. With any luck at all, years from nowrnpeople will be saying, “They don’t makernfilms like Pearl Harbor anymore.”rnA Knight’s Tale chucks all claims tornhistorical accuracy, reveling in anachronismrninstead. Fourteentli-centurv knightsrnjoust to such rock songs as “We Are thernChampions” and “Taking Care of Business”rnwhile their fans do the Wae in thernbleachers. Still, this charmingly unpretentiousrnfilm displays more genuine historicalrnwit than the enormously self-importantrnPearl Harbor.rnThis is a tale of medieval class struggle.rnWill (ingratiatingly played by HeathrnLedger), a lowly roof-thatcher’s son, longsrnto prove himself in the big-time joustingrnlists. There’s just one problem: Althoughrnhe displays the heart of a born champion,rnhe’s not a born aristocrat. Without patentsrnestablishing noble birth for four generationsrnon both sides, he’s limited to fightingrnin backwater villages where notrnmuch attention is paid to family quarterings.rnSo he dubs himself Sir Oric ofrnLiechtenstein and hires Geoffrey Chaucerrn(Paul Bettanv) ol Canterbury Tales famernto be his p.r. flak. (My favorite scene hasrnChaucer confronting the sleazoid whornbecomes his mode] for Pardoner. It’s arnmini-thesis on how authors always get thernlast word.)rnWill is soon jousting with the best andrnwinning the heart of the beautiful MaidrnJocelyn (Shannyn Sossamon), for whomrnthe traditional epithet “fair” must refer tornher disposition, since her complexionrnseems distinctly African in hue (surely anrnoddity in 14th-century Britain, howeverrnamorously correct in the 21st).rnWhat ensues is as slapdash and slaphappyrnas an Errol Flynn vehicle crossedrnwith Bing Crosby’s A Connecticut Yankeernin King Arthur’s Court and rounded outrnwith a Roc^-like denouement. All in all,rnit follows cinema’s patented populist formularnfor filling theater seats with therncheeky masses.rnI’ll admit that, after several joustingrnniontages featuring thundering hoovesrnand shattering lances, I began to loserntrack of who was who behind the interchangeablernhelmet visors. On the otherrnhand, my 11-vear-old, Liam, had no suchrndifficulty. He eagerly followed Will’srnswift advancement through the warriorrnranks to a showdown with a sneering aristornwho mocks his lower-class origins.rnWorse, this villain considers womenrnnothing more than tournament prizes,rnranking them somewhat lower in importancernthan gift horses and victory trophies.rnHe does make allowance for Jocelyn’srnsuperior charms, however. As herntells Will, he intends to saddle her andrnput her on his mantel. Hiss, boo!rnWhile Pearl Harbor strains to appearrnheroically old fashioned, A Knight’s ‘Talerneffortlessly hits the mark by refusing torntake itself seriously.rnFor a review of the Merchant andrnIvory adaptation of Henry James’ ThernGolden Bowl (unusually well-dressed fodderrnfor a Jerry Springer sleaze-fest), go crn48/CHRONICLESrnrnrn