What strikes me most about Tora, Tora, Tora – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tora%2C_Tora%2C_Tora – is that it’s about the war. It’s like a historian wrote the screenplay. The personal lives of the soldiers and sailors and politicians are footnotes. There are no soap-opera subplots. More recent war movies – Pearl Harbor, Saving Private Ryan, The Thin Red Line, Winds of War, War and Remembrance – are mainly about the lives and personalities of the people who get caught up in the war. Is a film-concept like TTT just too dry for today’s audiences?
How about United 93?
Maybe, if we had another war - close enough to home, and complicated enough that the logistics themselves are interesting enough to watch.
But you can only make a couple of movies like that about any event - after that, there’s nothing more to say (in this very specific sub-genre). So we have to wait.
Haven’t seen it – is the plot more like Tora! Tora! Tora! or Pearl Harbor?
I haven’t seen United 93 so I can’t compare them too well, but the thing that struck me about Tora! Tora! Tora! was how it fairly looked at the Pearl Harbor attack from both the US and Japanese viewpoints. I doubt that United 93 gives the terrorists’ and their leaders’ viewpoints much attention.
It doesn’t really give anyone’s viewpoint. It merely observes. We know nothing about the terrorists’ motivations, nor do we learn anything about the passengers.
I disagree, but maybe its because you and I are using different defintions of viewpoint. The Japanese military’s perspective was shown, ie, “The high command says we have to attack the U.S. fleet in order to protect our trade routes. We can attack their aircraft carrier at Pearl Harbor using these modified torpedoes thusly…” It showed Japanese professional military men going about their jobs, and showed the Japanese diplomats in Washington doing their job, etc.
Sure. But in both movies we avoid the cliche of a character story where the main event is relegated to mere plot complication.
Wouldn’t Black Hawk Down count as a modern example, too?
I think the 1993 film Gettysburg is a good example of what the OP’s looking for.
The Longest Day (1962) focused on the D-Day Invasion pretty much exclusively – there’s some back stories for lesser-known characters, and John Wayne tends to ham it up, but it’s a good historical document. There’s actual war footage incorporated into the film (which is why it was filmed in black & white) and the French & German characters all speak in their native languages.
United 93 is almost too “cinema verite” to be considered a historical film – you get to see the first two hours of September 11th, from the point of view of a fly on the wall, but that’s it – the movie ends when the plane crashes.
The closest thing I’ve ever seen to what is requested is Hiroshima. This showed the American and Japanese viewpoints of the end of the war as well as Tora! Tora! Tora! did the beginning. I have no idea why this didn’t make a boatload of money, the writing, acting, and directing (two directors- one Canadian and one Japanese) were all first class.
To answer the OP, of course you could make such a movie; audiences love war movies. If anything, they tend to reject the really silly, love-story laden movies like “Pearl Harbor.”