Thursday, October 2, 2014

Explosion, Explosion, Explosion

Pearl Harbor: A Romance, Drama, War, Action, Adventure, History movie

December 7th, 1941 off the coast of Hawaii, it appeared to be an average sunny morning.  To the people around Pearl Harbor they would quickly discover that their lives were about to change completely.  Twenty million naval bases gone. Two hundred airplanes gone. One thousand wounded. More than two thousand lives were stripped during the two devastating hours the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, perhaps one of the worst days in American history. The film Pearl Harbor captures a twisted love story between childhood best friends, Rafe and Danny, who both find themselves in love with Evelyn, a Navy nurse. Although the first half of the film tells the story of Rafe and Evelyn’s relationship and later Danny and Evelyn’s relationship, the second portion of the film revolves around the sudden, forever-remembered bombing of Pearl Harbor.  The special effects during this film are often remembered for realistic bombs dropping with explosions of fire, planes shooting down ships, and nurses scrambling to care for traumatic injuries. The captivating film Pearl Harbor utilizes special affects that create an emotional rollercoaster between intense fear, suspense, and an adrenaline rush; however, the overuse of some special effects draws back the rating of the film.
The use of special effects is optimized in the scene when Japan drops the bombs on Pearl Harbor.  This vast array of shots firing, bombs dropping, fires burning, planes flying, and soldiers scrambling creates an emotional appeal for the viewer.  Some credibility is built through the use of actor Ben Affleck.  He is recognizable to many people through his role in Armageddon; however, he was not as well known as he is today with the production of Argo. Some credibility of this scene is lost because unlike some actors who take on the risk of the stunts themselves, the actors in this film used stunt doubles. However, the realism of this scene helps to build the ethos and logos.  When an “argument makes a plausible claim and offers good reasons for you to believe it” the logos is established; the realistic special effects provides strong reasons to build the argument (107). The sounds of the bombs exploding and the fires starting among carriers appear to be real.  The most relatable of all the special affects were the planes flying overhead because unlike bombs exploding and gunshots firing, I have scene planes fly. Along with realism, the close relationship this scene had to the plot of the film helped build logos.  Although the film is seen as a romance, it is also a WWII movie, and the dropping of the bombs closely related to the war aspect.  The emotional appeal that this scene created built the strongest argument.  The special effects created an unstable mood in which you felt on the edge of your chair.  The realism of the scene made me feel like I was a part of it, and I became fearful and threatened. Giannetti in his chapter on special affects says that many of the scenes are full of pointless chases, explosions, violence, explosions, speed, explosions, and just for good measure, more explosions (35).  Although the bombing of Pearl Harbor appeared to be realistic, this scene fell short in its argument because it was explosion, after explosion, after explosion for a length of time.  The beginning of the scene made me feel a part of it; however, after seeing the bombs exploding time and time again, I became uninterested.
Along with the bombings of Pearl Harbor, the hospital scene represented both positive and negative uses of special effects.  Both the ethos and pathos are built through the realistic feeling that the scene creates. Evelyn, a Navy nurse, became fogged in her thinking as she watched countless on-the-verge-of-death soldiers wheeled into the hospital.  The special effects used in this scene put the viewer in her shoes as she tries to gather her thoughts on how to handle this traumatic situation. After the slow motion frame ends, the speed of the film becomes rapid and we see a series of gun shot wounds, limbs gone, and arteries bleeding.  These wounds appear to be realistic in nature, and create a feeling of disgust and hurt in the viewers. The pathos of this scene is the strongest because the rapid, intense rush of people makes the viewer feel a part of the nurse’s role. I began to picture myself as the nurse trying to handle each soldier coming in along with trying to grasp the catastrophic event. According to Lunsford, the pathos of a film is used to connect readers to the experiences that occurred during the scene (44). In the hospital scene, pathos is used to show how overwhelming and intense the situation was for nurses and doctors. However the perfect make up of the nurses; the lipstick, the mascara, and the blush; along with the untouched uniform produces fault in the realism of the scene.  For a nurse to look that flawless as bombs are being dropped, blood is pouring out, and tears are being shed is not convincing for the viewer.

Overall the inclusion of both of these scenes enhanced the storyline of the film because they generated drama and suspense; however, in a realistic sense some of the special effects could have been stronger.  The firm establishment of pathos overrode the ethos and logos of the special effects in the scenes. Because the pathos built such a strong argument, I would rate the film a three out of five pickles.

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