The attack on Pearl Harbor is one of the most momentous events in the history of the world because of how it sparked the conflict between the Americans and the Japanese during World War II. So, if you are a patriot or if you simply want to know the events surrounding the attack, there are plenty of different movies about Pearl Harbor that you need to watch.
Pearl Harbor has always been one of the most iconic places in the history of World War II, and that is why it should be interesting to watch the movies that showcase the attack. That said, we have compiled the best movies about Pearl Harbor so that you can feed your curiosity and know more about one of the most momentous attacks in human history.
Best Movies About Pearl Harbor
Those who know a bit about history would know that Pearl Harbor is one of the most iconic places because of how the attack by the Japanese on it sparked the World War II conflict between the USA and Japan. So, if you want to see a different perspective regarding the attack on Pearl Harbor, we have some movies that are worth watching.
1. Pearl Harbor (2001)
Quite possibly the most popular movie about the attack on Pearl Harbor, Pearl Harbor is a good way of retelling what happened back when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. However, it is also a way of retelling the story in a manner that mixes romance and drama with one of the most momentous attacks in human history.
Pearl Harbor follows two pilots who are assigned to Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The pilots, who are best friends, fall in love with the same woman, a nurse who is working in a hospital in Pearl Harbor. In a way, it revolves around a love triangle involving the three central characters, but the attack on Pearl Harbor changed all that. The two pilots were then assigned to the team that mounted a counterstrike on Japan.
2. Midway (2019)
Midway is the latest Hollywood movie that follows the events of the attack on Pearl Harbor. However, the difference here is that it focuses more on the Battle of Midway instead of the actual attack itself. That’s because Midway is set right after the attack on Pearl Harbor, but we still consider it to be a good movie about Pearl Harbor.
As the title says, Midway is a Hollywood depiction of the Battle of Midway, which happened right after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and when the US and Japan were already at war with one another. This was a decisive battle that allowed the Americans to weaken the Japanese forces, as four aircraft carriers were sunk in this maritime bout between the two superpowers.
3. The Final Countdown (1980)
The Final Countdown allows all-time great actor Kirk Douglas to once again play a character in a movie about Pearl Harbor. This movie is a different story that has its own way of retelling the attack on Pearl Harbor because it is actually a sci-fi movie.
In this movie, what happens is that there is a contemporary aircraft carrier that travels back in time to the day before the bombing on Pearl Harbor happened. So, in a way, the time travelers were deciding whether or not to change the course of history or to let everything happen as it should.
4. Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)
Tora! Tora! Tora! is an amazing collaboration between the USA and Japan in telling the story of what happened during the attack on Pearl Harbor. As such, it is a great movie that uses the inputs of the two countries involved in that event nearly three decades after the bombing happened.
Back when this film was produced, it was considered an expensive and lavish project that told the viewpoints of both sides. It is so meticulous in terms of its historical detail that it was able to capture the perspectives of both the Americans and the Japanese. This is why this movie actually won an Oscar for Best Special Effects.
5. I Bombed Pearl Harbor (1960)
While plenty of the different movies about the attack on Pearl Harbor focuses on the perspective of the Americans, I Bombed Pearl Harbor is a different take altogether because the film took a look at the perspective of the Japanese when they decided to commence the attack on Pearl Harbor.
I Bombed Pearl Harbor, which was released nearly two decades after the attack, was originally released in Japan and was remade for the American audience. It follows the story of a Japanese pilot who was involved in the victory of Japan when they attacked Pearl Harbor. However, the story also follows the same pilot who was there when the Americans won the Battle of Midway. This is a good film to watch if you want to see the viewpoints of someone who “was there”.
6. From Here to Eternity (1953)
Like Pearl Harbor (2001), From Here to Eternity is the original love story that happened right before the attack on Pearl Harbor. In a sense, the movie focuses on a love story that combines the complications of romance and the problems that come with how war changes the entire setup of a relationship.
The movie follows the days leading up to the bombing of Pearl Harbor and allows us to see the normal daily lives of the soldiers through the perspective of one soldier, who acts as a lone wolf. So, if you want to combine historical wartime drama with romance in one single film, From Here to Eternity is right up there with Pearl Harbor (2001) and should be a good film to watch with a romantic partner.
7. In Harm’s Way (1965)
In Harm’s Way is the movie that we were talking about when we said that Kirk Douglas was in a film about Pearl Harbor. However, unlike The Final Countdown, there are no elements of sci-fi in this historical film, as this is actually a soap opera that tells the story of what navy life was all about in Pearl Harbor when the Japanese dropped those bombs.
The movie may not be the best way of retelling the Pearl Harbor attack, but it showcased an amazing cast that focuses on John Wayne and Kirk Douglas, who are two of the most amazing actors in history. It is the charisma of the actors and actresses that make the movie so good despite its flaws. Still, it should be a good historical drama to watch if you want to see the attack from the perspective of the navy.
8. They Were Expendable (1945)
They Were Expendable is one of the first movies that tell the story of what happened in World War II as it was released just shortly after the end of the Second Great War. However, this movie isn’t entirely focused on Pearl Harbor. But the fact that this is one of the only films that the legendary John Ford filmed regarding WWII makes it a good watch.
Instead of focusing entirely on Pearl Harbor, They Were Expendable tells the story of the first fights between the US and the Japanese forces in the Philippines following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. As such, even though it might not be focused on Pearl Harbor, it is still a good movie because of how it was able to skillfully portray the brave Americans who were left behind following a skirmish with the Japanese in the Philippines.
9. Air Force (1943)
Air Force, which was released just two years after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, isn’t necessarily the best film to watch about Pearl Harbor because it features subpar acting and a pretty campy and mediocre dialogue to go along with it. However, it still is a good movie to watch if you want to see how Hollywood was more than willing to wave the banner of victory in the middle of WWII.
The film is about a crew of a B-17 bomber who were the ones scheduled to land in Hawaii right after the attack on Pearl Harbor began. The crew and the plane survived the attack, as these brave men were able to get their revenge when they helped lead an attack on the Japanese fleet in what seems to be the Battle of Midway.
10. December 7th (1943)
The title of the film alone is enough to tell you that this is a film about the attack on Pearl Harbor, which happened on December 7, 1941. This film was released about two years after the attack happened, and it was able to dramatize the events that happened on that fateful day.
While it may have won an Oscar at that time, the problem with this film is that it contains a lot of elements of pure fiction. However, John Ford is such a good director that plenty of people mistook the scenes as actual footage of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
And while the film does have its good sides, it earned the ire of the War Department, which cut almost an hour of footage from the original release of the film because of how some scenes suggested that the US military lacked preparedness for the attack.