Pearl Harbor Script updates

Posted on Jan 26, 2000

Got two tidbits today. The first is from Harry at AICN, and the other one is from the Hollywood Reporter.

Warning: there are a couple spoilers below.

Harry looks at the first real draft of Randall Wallace’s screenplay for Michael Bay’s PEARL HARBOR

Hey there folks at large, though I am writing this I guess there may be some doubt as to whether or not you’ll actually be able to read it. Sigh…. Today I do have something rather interesting for ya. You see… You’ve perhaps seen a couple of looks at Michael Bay’s PEARL HARBOR script. I can remember at least one look over at Dark Horizons. BUT… that was actually a review of a draft in progress. What does that mean?

Well, you see a screenwriter often times will write and get through with a draft… but not be satisfied with it, so he’ll go back, rework it, and when he or she is finished and happy.. then they’ll send it out to their director, producer, studio… whatever the case may be.

The draft of PEARL HARBOR (aka TENNESSEE) that had been hitting the script circles of the world, was actually an unfinished, incomplete draft of Randall Wallace’s that was never turned in to either Bay, Bruckheimer or the Mouse House. Wallace’s assistant was fired and that was that.

But as a result… We’ve never had a review of an accepted draft of this gigantic project… that is… till now.

Through trickery and tomfoolery, I have managed to obtain a 1/13/2000 draft by Randall Wallace of his original screenplay, which is now titled… PEARL HARBOR. Now, in yesterday’s Hollywood Reporter They mentioned that there are casting discussions and possibilities of having Charlize Theron, Wes Bentley, Ed Burns, Keri Russell, Scott Speedman, James Caviezel and Gene Hackman talking about roles in this film.

Also, Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer have been in discussions with the Department of Defense, The Pentagon and the Navy to secure complete cooperation in bringing this film about. You see… This isn’t a very cheap movie. Believe me. This script is a huge film.

The film is not just about PEARL HARBOR. It’s far larger and ambitious than that. It isn’t a remake of TORA! TORA! TORA! or FROM HERE TO ETERNITY. The film also covers what it was like to be a part of the Americans that volunteered to be a part of the British formed Eagle Squadron… which was formed of mainly American volunteers that went early to fight the Germans during the early days of the BATTLE OF BRITAIN. It includes behind the scenes details from both the American side and the Japanese side… From FDR to Hirohito… It deals with what happened that fateful day on Pearl Harbor… and then How we Americans reacted. And… if you’ve ever seen the excellent movie, THIRTY SECONDS OVER TOKYO… you’ll know.

This is by far… the most textured and real script that Michael Bay has had in his hands thus far. Having said that… there are still a couple of small tidbits here and there that need tweaking. Mainly having to do with the one night meeting of Evelyn and Rafe.

Well… perhaps I need to set this all up better than I have thus far…

The film starts off with the following paragraph…

‘As in every dramatic reconstruction, actual characters and events have been combined and shaped for clarity; but the events are factual, and we have made every effort to capture the truth of what happened, drawing not only from the best historical works, but from the personal accounts of many who saw these events through their own eyes, and shaped them with their courage.’

It then opens in Tennessee in 1926, with two plays playing like they are in a biplane fighting off an unseen imaginary enemy. Their plane nothing more than an old shell of a bi-plane propped up on crates. The boys are Rafe and Danny.

A pair of wide eyed kids. Innocent. War was this strange heroic venture that all ‘Men’ took part in. Basically the film is really about this loss of innocence. This sense of invincibility that comes with youth. They are the best of friends. They type that when one can’t read so well… the other helps with the homework, while the other teaches the other how to fly.

Rafe is the hungrier of the two. Itching to do his duty. He volunteers for the Eagle Squadron to fight the Germans, thus splitting the two friends up. On his night before shipping out to England, Rafe meets Evelyn… a nurse… My only problem in this entire 116 page script is in her character.

They have one night to fall in love, before their romance takes the form of war torn love letters. As their ‘night’ currently consists… it’s mainly an adventurous romp. With their dialogue mainly consisting idle chatter. For me, the best single night dialogue driven love affair came from Kim Krizan and Richard Linklater’s BEFORE SUNRISE… and the film desperately needs a realistic soulmate meeting here at the beginning. It isn’t terrible… it just isn’t…. IT yet.

However, as soon as Rafe ships out… MAN… this movie flies. Randall Wallace’s script is filled with all the right moments. You can feel the kindling catching fire ’round the world. You begin to see why the Japanese had to do, what it is they did. You see why the Americans didn’t believe that the Japanese were going to attack Pearl Harbor.

What I love about this script is the fact that these are not the, ‘EVIL NIPPONESE’ or the ‘YELLOW PERIL’ as they have so often been portrayed in film. In fact… perhaps the best line in the entire film belongs to Yamamoto himself…

Yamamoto has outlined the plan to fill the radio airwaves with false movements and attack plans to confuse the Americans, and the resulting clutter would be indecipherable.

Genda comments to him, ‘Brilliant, Admiral.’

To which Yamamoto retorts, ‘A brilliant man would find a way not to fight a war.’

And I love that this is coming from the ‘insidious enemy’.

Later still, when Danny shoots down a Jap Zero that was going to kill men floating in the water after a ship had been destroyed, he says exasperated to another pilot through the radio, ‘They’re even shootin’ guys floating in the water’ To which the other pilot says, ‘It’s a war, Danny. Wake up.’ This sense of things is wonderful to me. I love the sense of innocence and fairplay that gets crushed by war. First in Rafe in the Battle of Britain… then in Danny at Pearl Harbor.

War is not a beautiful thing.

Another thing I really love about this script is this. You know how Michael Bay likes to show, what many of his… ummm… critics like to call… Kodak Moments? You know… like the kid running with the Space Shuttle, with a dilapidated mural of Kennedy is on a building in the background in ARMAGEDDON?

Well here… On the morning of December 7th… His little montage sequences are again applied. But here.. instead of it being just random ‘Hallmark Highlights’ they’re based upon insights from survivors of PEARL HARBOR… Sort of… their little highlighted memories… their Polaroids of a terrible moment. And when we revisit these flashes throughout the ordeal… we see whether or not these people live or die. Whether they lose some one or an arm or two. As a result… these moments are real.

What I like about Evelyn is that she has a sense of purpose in the script. She isn’t just some dumb broad. She has to perform a billion decisions as the victims of Pearl Harbor come in like a flood of torn flesh and broken bones. She’s forced to choose who will receive treatment… and who will have to die.

She isn’t just helpless staring at the men who are getting the job done. And when I called up Bay Pictures about a problem with her character near the end of the script where she is turned into that type of character… It seems that they are at work on this next draft to strengthen her even more.

Yeah… she’s a woman in love… surrounded by tragedy. But she’s also a nurse. And she has work to do. A place to bury her sorrows by comforting and saving others from their own.

As the script read, it’s already a very large epic film. If they end up fixing a couple of character things and that opening romance… then the film will really really be the homerun that everyone at Disney, Bruckheimer and Bay pictures want from this. It’s funny. Robogeek was a tremendous fan of ARMAGEDDON, but even he was a bit scared of the ‘popcorning’ of history that Michael Bay could have brought to the film. Well… at least here in this draft of the screenplay by Randall Wallace… that is not the case.

They don’t play up the Japanese or the Germans as ultimate evil bastards. Even the heroes in the film… they are just regular joes that did their jobs in a very irregular time. I can see why SPYGLASS is chomping at the bit to get this film from DISNEY if Eisner were to chicken out on it. I’ll continue to follow this film all the way through production, as it is the largest WWII movie that I’ve been around to see being made. And I just hope they nail it. The events that they are bringing to life are times so a part of historic memory that they need to be treated with the sense of fairness that Randall Wallace has given them.

Fox Baja to serve spell as port of ‘Pearl Harbor’

(Wed., Jan. 26, 2000) By John Watling

MEXICO CITY — “Pearl Harbor,” Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay’s mega-budgeted production, has found its shooting ports. More than a year after shooting wrapped on the most recent full-length feature filmed at the Fox Baja facility, the studio is gearing up to host Disney’s megabudgeted “Pearl Harbor.”

Sources said a few weeks of shooting will take place at the Baja facility, while most of the film will be shot in Los Angeles, as well as in Hawaii and Texas. An April 10 date is being eyed for the start of principal photography in Hawaii.

Bruckheimer is producing and Michael Bay is directing “Pearl Harbor,” which is now in preproduction in Los Angeles. Fox Baja manager Charlie Aronsen is expecting the production to arrive at his facility in March to begin preparing for shooting there.

“We are extremely happy to have ‘Pearl Harbor’ here,” Aronsen said.

The Fox Baja facility first hit headlines with news that “Titanic” was to film there in 1996. Recently, the northern Mexico facility has attracted some television production, namely “The Expendables” for USA Network. But the facility has had trouble attracting feature productions since ‘Big Blue’ finished shooting in December 1998.

Aronsen said the difficulties have nothing to do with the quality of the facility. “We can shoot anything here,” he said. “It is all about the lack of incentives for filming in Mexico.”

The number of foreign productions shooting in Mexico has declined sharply in recent years as other countries including Canada, Australia and Ireland have increased the incentives for foreign productions to film there, while Mexico has done nothing to attract foreign productions.