Education About Asia: Online Archives

TEACHING PEARL HARBOR FILMS, AMERICAN AND JAPANESE

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Whatever the achievements and shortcomings of the recent film, Pearl Harbor, it has brought our attention back to several important points. First, the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor continues to be a significant presence in American historical consciousness. Second, the wartime propaganda message of a peaceful nation and people shocked into war by a treacherous, unprovoked “sneak attack” still lingers alongside the postwar scholarly interpretations of the complex causes of the war, now from both Japanese and American points of view. Third, films continue to play a significant role in shaping national and public consciousness of historical events and issues, in this case the meaning of the Pearl Harbor attack in American history and the United States’ current world position. Fourth, while history teachers may use films and film clips to enrich history lessons, they also need to teach students how to “read” these films as historical narratives with their
own interpretations.

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