About The Production
On April 2, 2000 the studio and filmmakers, in tandem with the United States Navy, held a special wreath laying ceremony in memory of the men and women who gave their lives that fateful day Commander of the Pacific Fleet, Admiral Thomas B. Fargo and U.S. Park Ranger Kathy Billings of the Arizona Memorial hosted Walt
Disney Motion Pictures Group Chairman Dick Cook, Jerry Bruckheimer, Michael Bay Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Kate Beckinsale, Cuba Gooding, Jr., and several members of the Hawaii and San Diego chapters of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association at the Arizona Memorial site.
"The memorial service was a very emotional experience for all of us," describes Affleck. "I had not been out to the site, so it hit me hard when I got off the launch and walked across the Memorial looking down at the ship right below. It still leaks oil. It feels very present and gives you a sense of the weight of the whole incident. Seeing all the names listed on the wall in the shrine room, the sets of brothers and fathers and sons. When taps was blown it was hard to keep your composure. It left me with a reverential and awed feeling about being there."
"It plays on your mind when you see all those names," says Gooding. "When you think of the thousands of men who died in minutes, it just attacks your soul. You realize the responsibility of this movie and it makes everything easier as far as duplicating the emotion."
Principal photography began in Oahu on Tuesday April 4 with a traditional blessing by a local Hawaiian priest. The first scene shot was a poignant moment for many of the crew who were seeing the Japanese aircraft-flying overhead for the first time. It was one of those moments that takes you back to a place in time you have never been, when you suddenly realize you can imagine what it must have been like. It's the moment when a giant shiver runs down your spine and you turn away because of the lump in your throat.
Early in the morning, as a light breeze blows across the shore and the dew still sparkles on the waving grass, a young mother hangs her wash on the line. She looks up. Inexplicably a military plane painted with a large red dot on its side flies low overhead, so
low it seems as if she could simply raise her arm and touch its belly with her fingertips. The insignia is unfamiliar, but she is not frightened, only amazed at the sight. The roar of the engine is overwhelming. She cannot hear his comrades flying close behind, but then she sees them, dozens of them, flying so low she can see the faces of the men in the cockpits. They are Japanese. She is confused. They wave to her children, not a greeting, but a warning for them to run and hide. And suddenly she knows; it's just the beginning.
"Shooting in Hawaii was a magical experience," says Bay "There were so many of those moments where it hits you and you realize where you are and what this movie means to so many people. Looking down, under my director's chair, I remember seeing the strafing marks on the cement where the bullets struck the ground. It was literally right under my feet. It was an
honor to actually shoot right where it all happened. To me, there is something magical about that."
Bay was also permitted to shoot underwater at the Arizona Memorial. No other feature film crew has been allowed such access. "The most symbolic image at Pearl Harbor is the sunken Arizona," says Bay "It sits forty feet below water and is the resting place for more than 1,100 men. I thought we needed to see the ship as it is today. Both the Navy and the National Park Service thought it was a good idea; that it would do something for the monument and keep the memory alive.
"Diving there was eerie," he continues. "It's very murky, even today there is still a lot of oil leaking from the ship. There is a lot of silt and algae, huge barnacles and suddenly
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