I have seen this movie multiple times and in 2012, I had the privilege of visiting the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Historical Monument on O’ahu, Hawai’i. As such, I felt I had more than enough context to complete an analysis of this 3:44-minute video clip:
|Cinematic Technique/Camera Angle Used||How does the cinematic technique tell/guide the story?|
|00:00 – 00:15||High angle shot showing an island beneath the clouds during daybreak. Scene transitions to a young Asian man who places his head on his hands. Scene then transitions to a religious shrine with candles. An object has Chinese characters.||The high angle of the daybreak shot as well as the shot of the religious objects convey spirituality and closeness to a higher being intertwined with the mission|
|00:16 – 00:30||Panoramic traveling shot of a roomful of young men getting dressed. Camera focuses on a young man sitting at a desk with paper and writing instrument in front of him. Scene cuts to a young Asian military officer with a fierce expression waving through a group of running airmen. Scene switches to a liquid being poured into a drinking bowl.||The panoramic traveling shot and the switches show that this is story is both of one person and an entire nation|
|00:31 – 00:45||Camera shot of military personnel toasting with the drinking bowl. Military personnel are shown putting on bandannas emblazoned with the Japanese flag. Camera pans to a scene showing weapons being transported and loaded to aircraft, and senior military officials overseeing this process.||Cinematic techniques convey that the operation shown has been planned in advance and being executed with ceremony and precision|
|00:46 – 01:00||Close up shots of the propellers and long shots fighter plans set the stage for an impending air attack||Use of frantic zoom foreshadows military action involving airplanes|
|01:01 – 01:15||A pilot wearing the Japanese flag headband is shown inside his plane giving a “ready”signal. A plane is shown taking off from an aircraft carrier. Another plane is show taking off to sea||Cinematic techniques clearly show that attack planes are being launched from the sea (via aircraft carriers)|
|01:16 – 01:30||Panoramic traveling shots of more fighter planes taking off from the aircraft carrier. Horizontal panning of a fleet of Japanese fighter planes flying past the entire length of the aircraft carrier. A pilot is shown flying past the rising sun.||Horizontal panning shows the might of the Japanese Navy. Shot of pilot with the rising sun in the background is symbolic of the Japanese flag where the red disc represents the sun|
|01:31 – 01:45||Long take of the fleet of Japanese fighter planes flying through clouds. A zolly was used to show a coastal hillside from overhead and then a group of naval ships anchored on a bay. Long take of a sailor in dress whites sitting on coiled rope on a sailing ship in front of an American flag.||Cinematic technique tells the story of an impending surprise attack from the air|
|01:46 – 02:00||Long take of a man in a motorcycle approaching a mountainside doorway. Zoom in to a roomful of men in front of radio equipment. Rapid zoom of airplanes in the clouds, an instrument panel, and Caucasian man sitting in front of an instrument panel while on the phone. Long track shot of Japanese fighter planes in air and American fighter planes parked on the ground.||Cinematic technique contrasts previous scene of tranquility (and unreadiness) with scene of military personnel monitoring operations around the island in a hidden location. Contrasting scenes of Japanese attack planes in the air and U.S. military planes parked on the ground.|
|02:01 – 02:15||Tracking shot of a military man at his desk. He is speaking on the phone held in one hand while his other hand moves a chess piece on the table. His feet are propped up on the desk. He takes his feet off the desk , sits up, sets the telephone handset on his should, turns around to take a clipboard, reads the clipboard, looks up. Low angle shot of Japanese fighter planes.||Cinematic technique shows a person who is unconcerned and relaxed in their office, despite the short moment where tension is infused in the scene|
|02:16 – 02:30||Rapid zoom of the men in the radio room talking, marking the instrument panel, fighter planes in the air, and men playing golf. A Jeepful of military men arrive on the golf course. A man dressed in Navy brown uniform jumps out from one of the Jeeps and salutes one of the golfers. Quick zoom of fighter planes in the air.||Cinematic techniques employed show the relaxed atmosphere on the island and among leadership (the salute conveys that the golfer is an important man)|
|02:31 – 02:45||Military man in brown Navy uniform continues to speak to the golfer he saluted earlier as a tracking shot of fighter planes flying over water is shown. High angle shot of a person typing on a typewriter. The words “REFUSAL TO COMPROMISE” are typed across a tape. A worried looking, middle-aged Caucasian man wearing glasses reads the tape.||Cinematic techniques convey that news of an impending attack is reaching U.S. military leaders|
|02:46 – 03:00||Zoom in to a young Caucasian man in Navy uniform with a headset typing and the words, “PEACE TALKS USEL…” are typed across a tape. Close up and quick zoom shots of the middle-aged man reading the tape; a telephone handset being picked up; the man, now without his glasses, speaking on the phone; the young Navy man continuing to type and the middle-aged man continuing to speak on the phone.||Cinematic techniques introduces new characters in the drama personified by a junior and senior U.S. military officer|
|03:01 – 03:15||Zoom in shot of the middle-aged man continuing to talk on the phone. High angle shot of a single Japanese fighter plane over water, with shadows of other planes nearby. Close up shot of the wing of the fighter plane showing the Japanese flag. Low angle shot of the Jeep pulling in front of a building. The golfer jumps out of the vehicle and tracking shot is used as he walks rapidly toward the building. He is met and saluted by another military man in brown uniform and handed a piece of paper.||Interchanging shots of the major players in the drama make rounds out the story, emphasizing how the U.S. military was unprepared for the attack by the Japanese military|
|03:16 – 03:30||Tracking shot of the golfer as he continues to stare at the piece of paper. He stops walking and camera zooms in as he looks up with a worried expression. He turns to speak to the man in the brown uniform. Camera zooms in to a black and white photo of a naval ship captioned in Japanese characters and Roman letters underneath it that reads, “U.S.S. Oklahoma.” There is also another black and white photograph of an Asian woman placed to the upper left of the ship photograph. Low angle shot, then zoom in of the Japanese pilot wearing the bandanna and looking determined.||Cinematic technique of zooms and tracking shot clearly shows that the Japanese attack planes have assigned targets|
|03:31 – 03:43||Long take, tracking shot of island underneath white clouds, with a group of fighter planes swarming towards it||Aerial shot of the island reminds brings the clip to full circle as it reminds the viewer of the aerial shot of the island at the beginning of the clip. This time, the Japanese fighter planes are shown descending on the island as a group, instead of taking off individually from the aircraft carrier. The shot intensifies the drama and creates a feeling of impending disaster.|
Audio Track Analyses
For the audio track analyses, I let the video clip run in the background as I had a Word document on screen. I noted the audio elements I heard in the Word document. When listing out the dialogue below, I used Navy acronyms: ADM for Admiral; CDR for Commander; and LT for Lieutenant. Through various audio elements such as human voices and mechanical sounds, the story of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor unfolds. There were a few things that I missed when I viewed the clip with the sound off that were clarified for me when the audio elements were turned on. The dialogue revealed hierarchy of the various people and the locations of the scenes.
The clip begins with flute music which fades to the background as a male accented voice speaks in English about destiny, honor, and service to the nation:
“Revered Father, I go now to fulfill my mission and my destiny. I hope it is a destiny that will bring honor to our family. And if it requires my life, I will sacrifice it gladly to be a good servant of our nation.”
Background music switches to drums beating and male voices yelling. Steady beating drum. Engines revving, music escalates, propellers and planes taking off. The drum beats fade away.
Male voice with an American accent, states uncertainly, “Hey I’ve got a large haze. Propellers That’s too big to be planes, right?” This is intertwined with increasing sound of propellers.
Male voice with American accent speaks in English, “Is that what you want to do? Knight to knight 5. Boom. Wrong move! “ Sound of small object being moved on a desk.
Another male voice in American accent urgently states, “Lieutenant, radar’s picking up a large return moving in from the northeast. “
LT: “Relax! A flight of B17s is coming in from the mainland.”
More propellers .
Male voice with American accent states in English, “That’s a heck of a lot of B17s.”
Golf ball being hit. “Good shot, Hot” Sound of a vehicle slowing down and braking.
“This better be good, Commander.”
CDR: “One of our destroyers reports having fired and sunk enemy submarine attempting to enter Pearl Harbor at 0653.”
ADM: “It’s 7:20 [a.m.]”
CDR: “We had decoding delays, Admiral.”
ADM: “Relay this to Washington. Recall the staff.”
The sound of propellers and flying planes gets louder then fades. Sound switches to mechanical typing .
Male voice in American accent reads, “Failure. Peace talks useless.”
Handset being picked up. Male voice in American accent states urgently, “Thurman here. Tokyo transmitting to their embassy in Washington: ‘Discontinue use of your decoding machine and dispose of immediately. Special emphasis on destroying important parts.’ Do you read that? Acknowledge!”
High-tension music. Propellers. Overland vehicle parking.
Breathless American male voice states, “Admiral, Naval Intel intercepted a transmission to Tokyo from their embassy in Washington instructing to break apart all decoder machines and burn all secret documents.”
ADM: “Japanese are expecting a war. Should we?”
Increasing sound of airplanes and high-tension music. Video clip ends.
“We Got a Large Haze” Analyses
With both auditory and visual senses engaged at the same time, I was able to get a more powerful story from the video clip. When I only had either one of these two senses engaged, I missed some parts of the story. For example, without any sounds or dialogue, I could not distinguish the ranks for the American military, nor could I place some of the scenes in context. Without any visual, the sounds tended to mix together and if I had not viewed the video clip beforehand, the sounds alone would not have told me a coherent story. Because of my previous viewing of the video clip, I was able to associate the sounds to scenes I remembered from the viewing.
When I viewed the entire clip with both audio and video elements, the story was more intense for me:
- In the beginning of the clip, when you hear the accented English saying, “Revered father…” and you see a young man put his head on his hands as if in supplication and the camera pans to altar-like table, you wonder if he is praying to a God he is calling father or if he is addressing his parent. Only later on, when the accented voice mentions “…honor to our family…” and you see a young man writing at a desk do you realize that the “father” being addressed is a parent.
- The scene that shows young Japanese air men running, torpedoes being loaded onto planes, the ceremonial toast, and senior military officials overseeing the activities is immediately preceded by the accented voice ending his letter with , “And if it requires my life, I will sacrifice it gladly to be a good servant of our nation.”
- Interchanging shots served to provide a contrast between scenes and emphasized how well-planned the Japanese attack was and how unprepared the Americans were.
- The scene immediately preceding the Jeep arriving at the military headquarters was of a Japanese plane in the air and the mechanical sound of the propellers blended in to the mechanical sound of the Jeep slowing down and braking. I would liken this to the “match cut” camera technique.
By turning off the audio the first time I viewed the clip and then not looking at the video when I listened to the clip, I was able to notice more of the audio and video elements used. As a result, I appreciated the techniques used when I viewed the entire clip with both video and audio elements.
In keeping with the travel/history theme of this blog, below is a slideshow of the photos I took during my 2012 visit to O’ahu. The slideshow includes photos of the USS Oklahoma Memorial. The USS Oklahoma is depicted in the video as being target of one of the Japanese attack planes, as shown in 03:24 – 03:25 of the clip: