‘Midway’ Director Roland Emmerich on His Passion for Bringing WWII’s Battle of Midway to Life

     November 6, 2019

For director Roland Emmerich, Midway has been a long-gestating passion project that finally hits theaters November 8th—just in time for Veteran’s Day. Its trailer only hints at the film’s epic depiction of World War II’s Battle of Midway, brought to life by a capable ensemble cast and so many dog fights, dive bombers, and battleships you’ll leave the theater ducking for cover.

Known as the “Master of Disaster” for an oeuvre that includes Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, and Godzilla, Emmerich’s straightforward take on the Battle of Midway begins at a lightning-quick pace and doesn’t let up.

midway-posterMidway’s capable ensemble cast—which includes Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Mandy Moore, and Dennis Quaid—hews close to history, covering an oft-neglected (in film, at least) battle in the Pacific Theater that was a critically important victory for US forces following their defeat at Pearl Harbor six months prior.

Luckily this history is action-packed and filled with intrigue, and the film does a surprisingly welcome job of covering the war from both sides. Quite a bit of screen time is devoted to the hearts and minds of our heroes’ Japanese adversaries, and it’s done so with a level of respect and aplomb rarely seen in war movies.

Watch our recent interview with Emmerich in the player above to learn more about his quest to bring what military historians call “the most stunning and decisive blow in the history of naval warfare” to the big screen. Below is a rundown of what we discussed.

  • How a German director known for his disaster films wound up directing a WWII film without any Germans in it.
  • Emmerich’s long road to realizing the production of Midway.
  • Why Emmerich thinks thinks today’s tumultuous political climate is an ideal time for its release.
  • What makes a good war movie, and why a film about the Battle of Midway presents an opportunity to explore the political complexities of war.
  • The high standard of historical accuracy maintained for the film’s battle sequences.
  • midway-roland-emmerich

    Image via Lionsgate

    The painstaking visual effects and prop-building process used to bring the high-stakes warfare of the Battle of Midway to life.

Midway’s official synopsis:

Midway centers on the Battle of Midway, a clash between the American fleet and the Imperial Japanese Navy which marked a pivotal turning point in the Pacific Theater during WWII. The film, based on the real-life events of this heroic feat, tells the story of the leaders and soldiers who used their instincts, fortitude and bravery to overcome the odds.

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