Pearl Harbor was not the first film to depict the events of December 7, 1941. Tora, Tora, Tora and other documentary-style films told the story of the attack on Pearl Harbor by strictly adhering to the historical facts, but Disney Studios took a different approach. They wanted to make a film that would appeal to a wide-range of audiences but also stay true to the facts. To do this, the film was made at the site of the original attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Disney borrowed vintage aircrafts from World War II for the film and consulted historians, military, and survivors from both the United States and Japan for the writing and filming of the movie. While Disney made every attempt to be accurate, the film has been attacked by critics for its many historical inaccuracies.
Critics attacked everything from the color of uniforms to inaccurate representations of the ships that were really at Battleship Row. However, despite the many inaccuracies, Disney did base their main characters on real Pearl Harbor veterans. Danny and Rafe are based on real pilots who took flight against the Japanese during their attack, just as they do in the film. Dorie Miller, the cook/boxer who valiantly fights off the Japanese, was a real man, and the first African-American to be awarded the Navy Cross. Critics were quick to cast judgment upon Pearl Habor because it had the potential to be so great considering the masses of sources about that infamous day. Producer Michael Bay mostly stayed true to history, but as to be expected from the director of Armageddon and Transformers, scenes of the actual attack focus on big explosions and fiery wrecks.