Tora! Tora! Tora! Review

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Dramatisation of the days leading up to the Pearl Harbour bombings on both sides of the Pacific.


Given that the Pearl Harbor bombing represents an undoubted low-point in Japanese-American relations, it’s ironic that this retelling of events was made by directors from both countries. In fact, the Japanese sequences were originally to be directed by Akira Kurosawa, whose first attempt at a script ran to 401 pages (around four-and-a-half hours of screen time).

Unsurprisingly, Kurosawa left the project two weeks into the shoot. While his replacements’ work is sturdy enough, the real star of the film is Richard Fleischer, whose recreation of the attack remains one of the most impressive action sequences ever committed to celluloid. Although now presumably doomed to be eclipsed by a certain Ben Affleck-starring venture, the result should nevertheless find a welcoming audience amongst people who just can’t see enough planes being blown up.

This big-budget, noble-but-dull account of the run up to Pearl Harbour is high on historical veracity but low on drama.