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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 22, 2001

Gala guests love 'Pearl Harbor'

 •  'Pearl Harbor' premiere brings Hollywood to Hawai'i
 •  For a real wartime-in-Hawai'i experience, try a 'didyaknow' tour
 •  Advertiser special: Pearl Harbor — Major Movie, Real Memories
 •  See KHON-TV's Kirk Matthews reporting on the Pearl Harbor story. QuickTime is required.
 • Pearl Harbor: Hollywood & History— Part I (2.4 Mb)
 • Pearl Harbor: Hollywood & History— Part II (1.9 Mb)

By Derek Paiva and Catherine E. Toth
Advertiser Staff Writers

If the immediate post-screening reactions of some of the 2,000 guests invited to the gala world premiere of Disney's "Pearl Harbor " are any indication, the studio may just have the biggest hit of the summer on their hands.

Touchstone Pictures "Pearl Harbor" had its debut about the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis last night in a $5 million premiere that featured fireworks, food and a USO-themed party in the ship's large below-deck hanger.

"It was incredible," said local chef Sam Choy on the flight deck immediately after the screening. "The movie had a nice balance between its love story and action scenes."

Choy said his gaze darted often between the screen unspooling the 43-minute Pearl Harbor attack and the Arizona Memorial resting peacefully in the tranquil waters. "That's chicken skin," he said. "You couldn't have asked for a better place to premiere this film."

His one quibble about the movie?

"They should've had more Hawai'i things in there," said Choy. "They should've went a little more into looking at local civilian families and what happened with them."

Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono raved more about the premiere than the actual movie: "That whole experience was fantastic," she gushed. "The whole thing, to look at Pearl Harbor, it was so perfect."

Mayor Jeremy Harris, a known movie buff, loved the movie, as did wife Ramona.

"It gave me goose bumps," Harris said. "The best moment of the whole evening was when one of the survivors (Dick Fiske) played taps before the fireworks."

Asked about the lack of a local perspective in the film, Harris said he didn't have any complaints.

"There's a thousands things that could've been in that movie," he said. "I didn't find anything wrong with what they did (with the movie). I think that the film and (the premiere) will be great publicity for Hawai'i."

Added Ramona: "We're definitely going to see it again."

But this movie served a purpose far greater than making millions at the box office. To some of those who survived the tragic attack on Dec. 7, 1941, this movie is a vehicle to share their stories with a whole new generation and honor the memory of fallen friends.

"Nothing's wrong with a big premiere," said Pearl Harbor survivor Yuell Chandler, who was at Fort Kamehameha the morning of the attack 60 years ago. "It's really a celebration of the sailors entombed in the Arizona. It made me feel good that people remembered."