How Hollywood Sanitises History Using Pearl Harbour as an Example

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Good evening and welcome to you all. I have been given the honour of delivering the opening speech for the 2007 Annual Brisbane Film Festival. When I was asked to make this speech I imagined you would all like to hear about how wonderful the films are you about to see; how technically correct and innovative they are and how great is the acting and the photography you will witness. I am sure this is true of many of them but I feel compelled to take a more serious approach tonight. In this modern age of technology and information we are often bombarded with slick advertising and attention grabbing images and no where is this more obvious than in the movie making industry. Movie memories of historical events often stick in our minds better than the stories we read in history books and for this reason can distort our view of history. Hollywood blockbusters are often guilty of sanitizing history for their audience to make a movie more palatable, watchable and therefore more profitable. This was very common in the 1940's when there were many World War II movies produced and American film producers wished to depict America as the ‘conquering hero' of that war. It was as if producers were compelled to warp public opinion to ensure that the enemy was always seen as evil and Americans as always good and righteous. This desire to portray history in a flattering light seems to have lasted to today. A good example of this is the movie Pearl Harbour although I don't see why it is called that when only about 40 minutes of the entire 3 hours is actually about what happened there. The main story is underpinned by a romantic discourse which focuses on an unbelievable love triangle between Rafe McCormick (Ben Affleck) Evelyn Johnson (Kate Beckinsale) and Danny Walker (Josh Hartnett). Rafe and Danny are the brave pilots from the US Army Air Corp, one dyslexic, one abused as a child and Evelyn the dedicated military nurse torn between the two, set against the backdrop of...
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