One of the best ways to understand our history is by watching reenactments of the events. Of course, you must choose a movie with a great storyline representing history and an excellent cinematic that will fit your taste. Here are 13 Best Pearl Harbor movies that you will surely enjoy.
1. Pearl Harbor: Death of the Arizona (December 2, 2001)
English 1h IMDb
Director: Erik Nelson
Stars: Stockard Channing
This TV movie is not a reenactment of what happened during the attack. Pearl Harbor: Death of Arizona shows actual footage during the said historical event. They also go back to where the attacks happened and will give you a tour through the sunken history.
This film will surely amaze you with the footage they still have after so many years ago. They also have a great way of relieving history by inviting a survivor and looking for the lost ships underwater. Instead of acting, you can witness authentic artifacts and happenings.
2. Pearl Harbor, le monde s’embrase: (December 3, 2021)
English 1h 30m IMDb
Director: David Korn-Brzoza
Stars: Vincent Lindon
Starting with learning the basics, this TV movie reflects the Pearl Harbor attack from when the Japanese raided the U.S. base. It signals the beginning of another war that affected the civilians living peacefully. The attack disturbed their policy of isolationism and joined World War II.
Watching this movie will walk you through the changes that happened in the world from the beginning and during World War II.
I highly suggest you start watching a documentary-type of movie if you want to learn history. And if you are looking for the best one, stop searching because this film is the one you need.
3. From Here to Eternity (August 5, 1953)
1h 58m IMDb
Director: Fred Zinnemann
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr
From Here to Eternity does not precisely represent what happened during the Pearl Harbor attack, but it narrates what life was like for the officers or soldiers’ moments before. More specifically, the movie focuses on the story of two people who are also at war with their feelings.
Viewers have said that the story of this film is a realistic view of what the army used to be. The chosen actors added to the greatness of From Here to Eternity as it won various awards. Even the supporting roles had superb acting skills, which gained attention for future films.
4. Tora! Tora! Tora! (September 23, 1970)
English, Japanese 2h 24m IMDb
Director: Richard Fleischer, Kinji Fukasaku, Toshio Masuda
Stars: Martin Balsam, Sô Yamamura, Jason Robards
This movie is perfect if you want to know the details of the attack. It shows both sides of the event. Moreover, American and Japanese performers, who were notable actors in Japan during the filming, did an excellent job portraying their characters.
On top of that, the attention to detail, such as the boats and planes, is remarkable. It is as if you are relieving the actual happenings. This factor caught the attention of many viewers, and they praised the crew for it.
The script was expertly crafted and kept the audience excited and anxious about what would happen.
5. In Harm’s Way (April 6, 1965)
English, French, Japanese 2h 45m IMDb
Director: Otto Preminger
Stars: John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Patricia Neal
Revenge is sweeter if done successfully. Unfortunately, In Harm’s Way happened differently. U.S. Navy Captain Torrey ordered to find the Japanese fleet only to be attacked by them instead.
As a result, he got reprimanded in his duty. But a piece of valuable information that Torrey learned regarding the Skyhook will be his ticket to a second chance.
The writer of this movie got inspiration from the actual events that happened during the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack. What made In Harm’s Way a film that many remembers is that it is the last black and white movie to portray WWII.
Furthermore, this movie will allow you to understand the life of the U.S. Navy during the first year of the war and how their minds and ideas run.
6. They Were Expendable (December 7, 1945)
English 2h 15m IMDb
Director: John Ford, Robert Montgomery
Stars: Robert Montgomery, John Wayne, Donna Reed
They Were Expendable is one of the best movies covering what life was like during and after the Pearl Harbor attack. This film adapted the story of a book with the same name by William Lindsay White, wherein he based the events and some people in real life while having some fictional story.
An experimented warship called Patrol Torpedo boats, also known as the PT, took sail not to test it but to use it against the Japanese in Manila, Philippines. Indeed, the ship is successful as it can do what they designed to do. However, the Japanese outnumbered these fast-attacking boats and took over the country.
Interestingly, the leading actor, Robert Montgomery, was the captain of a real-life PT boat in World War II. The director of this film, John Ford, commended Robert for his believable acting skills, which the actions of the leading actor may infuse with actual experiences.
7. Air Force (February 3, 1943)
English, Japanese 2h 4m IMDb
Director: Howard Hawks
Stars: John Garfield, John Ridgely, Gig Young
Air Force is a tale of being in the right place at the wrong time. Commanders sent B-17 bombers from San Francisco to Hawaii and arrived at the exact moment the Japanese launched an attack.
One of the nine flying planes survived and prepared to attack the enemy. Despite lack of rest, the fleet headed to Wake Island and then Clark Field, wherein both places were under attack by the Japanese.
The movie will put you on the edge of your seat as it continuously gives thrills. Even though the film is inaccurate as the history, it is still no doubt a great film with a different concept. It was also released in 1943 and carried propaganda about World War II.
Given the ongoing war, the producers still did a decent job in introducing this movie to the world.
8. Midway (October 24, 2019)
English, Japanese, Mandarin 2h 18m IMDb
Director: Roland Emmerich
Stars: Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Woody Harrelson
Historical events will always make an impact on the future. The director, who is also one of the producers of this movie, based the story on actual events in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attacks. The set is in the Battle of Midway, wherein the Navy must fight with their instincts against another Japanese attack.
The film is straight to the point. Thus, there is more time for the director to increase the accuracy of the movie details. They did not spare even the special effects of artistry. The casted actors suited the role and brought justice to the sailors who paid a great price for their country.
If you love more action and less talking, this film is perfect as the timeframe is full of exciting action sequences.
9. The Final Countdown (May 21, 1980)
English, Japanese, Russian 1h 43m IMDb
Director: Don Taylor
Stars: Kirk Douglas, Martin Sheen, Katharine Ross
Traveling back in time is both a blessing and a curse. You can change the past, just like what Capt. Matthew Yelland plans to do this when they travel back a day before the Pearl Harbor attack. However, he knows acting upon a historic event will create a paradox.
This sci-fi movie includes the time traveling of a modern aircraft carrier to the day before the historical event of Pearl Harbor.
Hopefully, this movie gets back to the light with a remake to improve the special effects while sticking to the main, as it has a fantastic time-traveling story. Not only will the main characters have to decide on how to act upon the dilemma, but it will also question the watchers with the actions they will possibly do.
What will you do if you have a chance to make the past brighter for you while affecting the present?
10. I Bombed Pearl Harbor (April 26, 1960)
Japanese 1h 58m IMDb
I Bombed Pearl Harbor, also titled Storm Over the Pacific, is a Japanese film (Hawai Middowei daikaikûsen: Taiheiyô no arashi) with a remade version to suit the American audience. It follows the story of a young bombardier, how he was glorified after several successful attacks and shaken after one defeat in the Battle of Midway.
It has an interesting point of view since it is not focused on the American side of the raid. Instead, this film shows the side of those who attacked.
It is scarce for Japan to release a movie about World War 2, and this might be one of the best ones they have. Additionally, this film is the first colored picture produced by Toho Studios, making it one of their iconic movies of all time.
11. Pearl Harbor (May 21, 2001)
English, Japanese, French 3h 3m IMDb
Director: Michael Bay
Stars: Ben Affleck, Kate Beckinsale, Josh Hartnett
Pearl Harbor is a movie about two young public servants, an Army Air Corps pilot and a Navy nurse, who fell in love but led to complications. Rafe volunteered to fight against Britain, while Evelyn got deployed to Pearl Harbor just before the raid.
This movie is a complete package. Aside from high-star actors, watching the mind-boggling outstanding air combats will get you hooked and beg for more. The props and outfits used are on point. You can also feel the chemistry brewing between the characters, which will make you can’t wait for what is about to come.
You may enjoy many films while learning about the Pearl Harbor attacks. You may watch documentaries, stories based on actual lives, or fictional stories with an accurate representation of the historical event. These 13 Best Pearl Harbor movies will invite you to learn before, during, and after the raid.