Tora! Tora! Tora!
If you're interested in sharing a piece of military history with your children, a la Hollywood, yet are concerned about the extreme violence in many newer war epics, Tora! Tora! Tora! may be the perfect alternative.
Released in 1970, this unique movie saw the blending of two completely separate film units--one headed by Japanese directors Kinji Fukasaku and Toshio Masuda, the other helmed by U.S. filmmaker Richard Fleischer. This strategy allows both sides of the conflict to be explored in a very separate yet integrated way.
Early sequences in this over two hour long World War II drama begin with the Japanese preoccupation over their war with China, and Germany's attempt to woo the Rising Sun into an alliance with them. Knowing the U.S. will retaliate if they continue building such relationships, the Japanese navy reluctantly agrees that their only hope is to hit the U.S. before they aim their guns at Japan.
Of course we all know the resulting outcome of that fateful day of December 7, 1941, including the many blunders made by U.S. military brass who were convinced Hawaii was unreachable by the Japanese or anyone else.
Tora! Tora! Tora! doesn't suffer from multi-million dollar celebrities demanding grandstanding roles or limiting itself to look at the event through the eyes of one character. Instead Tora! uses it's long running time to contrast the Japanese preparations against the many missed opportunities provided to the Americans that might have changed the course of the war. The film brings a huge cast to the screen in an effort to carefully replicate the many people who had a role in this infamous day.
Obviously the battle sequence is full of bombs, bullets, busted battleships, and bodies, but considering the topic involved, Fleischer gives us just enough carnage to get the point across. We can let our imaginations and historical fact do the rest. With the exception of the many mild four letter words, parents looking to provide their children with a look at the past would do well to check out this excellent movie.