Today and the weekend are first chapter dissertation writing day in readiness for my tutorial next Tuesday. Here are some quotes I've grabbed for the film Midway. Interestingly the way American victories in the Pacific War are portrayed begins to become much more conservative as time goes on. Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) is a hugely patriotic piece of propaganda, Midway (1976) is much more conservative in it's tone though can't help but stray into typical cliches and by 2006 with Letters from Iwo Jima we are pratically sympathetic towards the Japanese.
The film, while fairly balanced, does land a bit heavy on the American perspective overall. However, at least the Japanese have a little personality and are not completely portrayed as automatons.
Brain Mckay 2003 (accessed 08 October 2010)
The war sequences are among the most convincing ever created in Hollywood. Interspersed throughout the “movie magic” are several pieces of actual battle footage. The inclusion of such footage helps to heighten the movie’s realism, and gives the viewer a brief glimpse into the true horrors of air and sea battle. If the movie drags a bit in the dramatics department, that’s probably because the filmmakers were shooting for ‘accuracy’ over ‘emotion’. Unlike more recent cinematic affront to war veterans, Midway is the perfect example of how to make a historically accurate war movie – stick to the facts, and show some damn respect.
Scott Weinberg 2001 (accessed 08 October 2010)
Midway was one of history's greatest battles at sea, we know (or, if we didn't, there's a Winston Churchill quotation to remind us). It was a decisive turning point in the Pacific: At one blow, the Japanese Navy lost its great superiority. If "Midway" had been filmed 25 or 30 years ago, during the heyday of simpleminded war movies, the appropriate patriotic conclusions would have been drawn and the movie would have been over.
But this "Midway" was filmed for 1976, and so cannot be as straightforward. Instead of bugle calls, blood and guts and jingoism, we get the battle as a tactical game.
But then, when the actual battle starts, we quickly lose our orientation. Footage of the actors is intercut unconvincingly with newsreel and documentary footage.
There's one curious thing, though: Throughout the movie, the Japanese seem pessimistic, bitter, taciturn, as if they know they're going to lose. The characterization of the Japanese officers in "Midway" is, in fact, the most distracting thing about the movie. They speak in English (instead of in subtitles as in "Tora! Tora! Tora!"), but they're never allowed to have the human quirks of their American counterparts.
The hero of the movie is that veteran of countless previous epics, Charlton Heston. He brings a suitably heroic stature to his role, and, toward the movie's end, we're not surprised when he climbs into a plane and personally attacks the remaining Japanese carrier.
War movies used to have dash and color and a certain corny sentimentality; "Midway" hardly even makes us care.
Roger Ebert 1976 (accessed 08 October 2010)
'This is the way it was,' drones the introduction to this massively extravagant account of America's WWII naval victory, a sure indication of the film's probable untrustworthiness. '
Time Out Film Guide 2006 (accessed 08 October 2010)
"Midway" is a kamikaze attack against one of the greatest sea battles of modern times. The battle—history—survives while the movie blows up harmlessly in a confusion of familiar old newsreel footage, idiotic fiction war movie clichés,
VINCENT CANBY 1976 (accessed 08 October 2010)