December 9th, 2007

krazy koati

Hut-Sut Rawlson on the rillerah and a brawla, brawla sooit

If there's one thing to count on this time of year it's documentaries about the Attack on Pearl Harbor. I watch even if I've already seen a great number of them. Often there's some interesting point that I hadn't noticed before, and certainly any minute-by-minute reconstruction is great suspense. (Oddly, I've only seen part of Tora Tora Tora, since the only time I saw it on TV was the night before I was flying cross-world and I had to get to bed.) Plus it's fun to see if the documentary bothers mentioning that there were attacks on any other part of the world at the same time. Even more to see if they fall into the trap of saying the Japanese attack on Hong Kong and Malaya was ``the day after'' that of Pearl Harbor. That's International Date Line confusion which can trap up even normally industrious writers. And there's picking out understated biases like claiming the attack ``turned pacifists into patriots'', as if the only true patriotism is that which is eager to kill.

One of the shows was billed as a ``dramatic re-creation''. That's a phrase loaded with danger, although Pearl Harbor is one of those cases where a pretty complete dramatic re-creation can be done. There's enough documentary evidence both contemporary and from those who went through it writing down what they remembered that a dramatization can be done with reasonable confidence it represents honestly.

They get to the flag-raising ceremony at the Pearl Harbor naval base, which corresponded to the first Japanese airplane attacks with a synchronization that would be dismissed as corny in a movie. It shows the re-creation of the flag-raising in a split-screen with contemporary footage of Japanese fighters. The flag itself is the fifty-star flag.

I'm confident they meant well, and probably they just got to the day of filming without realizing no one had ordered a 48-star flag. They'd probably have got away with it too if the 48-star flag weren't so straightforward a grid; I doubt I could tell the 45-star or 49-star, or a 46-star if it were held vertically and allowed to fold over itself, from the 50-star flag at a glance.

Trivia: New York City had its first air raid siren of the Second World War on 9 December 1941, at about 1:25 pm, for enemy bombers supposedly arriving around 2:00. Don't You Know There's A War On?, Richard Lingeman.

Currently Reading: Starchild, Frederik Pohl, Jack Williamson. Don't see many novels these days where a steady-state theory of the universe comes into play. (It was written around 1964.)