December 7, 2016 marks the 75th Anniversary of the Pearl Harbor Attack by the Japanese Imperial Navy, a date that has for over seven decades “lived in infamy.”
To commemorate the attack that prompted the United States to enter WWII, Smithsonian Channel will premiere its new documentary series The Lost Tapes with its first installment: The Lost Tapes: Pearl Harbor on Sunday, December 4 at 9:00 pm ET/PT.
Using archival footage, audio, radio reports, and rarely seen photographs, The Lost Tapes presents the events to the viewer as if they were occurring in real-time. With no interviews and narration, the series forces the viewer to experience the confusion and near pandemonium that occurred in Honolulu on that shocking day. Some of the primary media used in the series haven’t been seen for 70 years.
“This is TV at its most raw, its most visceral,” said David Royle, Smithsonian’s Executive Vice President of Programming and Production. “It’s a unique approach. It plunges us into the midst of events, lets us witness the drama unfolding as if we were there at the time, and allows us to make up our own minds. It only uses contemporary reports and images and has an immediacy that is always fascinating and sometimes shocking.”
Smithsonian’s production team searched archives around the world to find previously unseen or unknown film, images, and radio reports. One of the most revealing of these finds is the only known live-radio broadcast recorded during the attack on Honolulu–made by a reporter for KGU from the roof of a local printing company. In the recording, the reporter is so shocked by the scene that lay before him he remarks, seemingly more to himself than to his audience, “It is no joke. This is a real war,” before being interrupted by a city telephone operator who disconnects the call in order to clear the line for emergency communications. The broadcast lasted for less than three minutes.
Covering not only the attack itself, but the aftermath, The Lost Tapes introduces viewers to the first White House Statement on the attack, given not by President Roosevelt, but by the First Lady, Eleanor, who assured Americans that not only would they be able to face the unknown of imminent global war, but that they would face it with courage, conviction, and unity. The documentary also highlights President Roosevelt’s address to congress requesting a declaration of war on Japan, which ends to thunderous applause and images of thousands of young men signing up with the military to fight for their country.
Further episodes of The Lost Tapes will air next year, timed to the anniversaries of the events they cover: the LA riots of 1992 spawned by the acquittal of four police officers charged with excessive force against Rodney King; the terror and capture of serial killer Son of Sam in 1977; and the kidnapping of Patty Hearst, the granddaughter of media tycoon William Randolph Hearst, by the Symbionese Liberation Army, which ended in her arrest in 1975.
“The Lost Tapes: Pearl Harbor” airs Sunday, December 4th at 9:00 ET/PT.