'Midway' Movie: The True Story Behind the War Movie From 'Independence Day' Director Roland Emmerich

When it comes to the major battles of World War II, most Americans have heard of Pearl Harbor, but other significant events like the Battle of Midway are not as well-known. The Day After Tomorrow director Roland Emmerich plans to change that with his latest film Midway, which brings to the screen the 1942 battle between American and Japanese forces.

"I wanted to do Midway for 20 years," Emmerich told Collider. "When you analyze it, it's a simple story and it's good that I didn't do it then because people aren't as sensitive as they are now, because it tells of people holding off fascism and it was exactly seen then like that."

"When you see how nationalism played against globalism – I'm a globalist, I think everyone should work together and nations are a thing of the past. But now it's exactly the opposite. There are demagogues who tell people to be nationalistic and everything will be better, but nationalism created World War II," said Emmerich.

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Nick Jonas as real-life gunner Bruno Gaido in "Midway." Lionsgate

The Battle of Midway took place over four days in June 1942 and the U.S. Navy defeated the Japanese near the Midway Atoll, one of the northwestern Hawaiian islands. History wrote of the attack: "Hoping to replicate the success of the Pearl Harbor attack, Yamamoto decided to seek out and crush the rest of the U.S. Pacific fleet with a surprise attack aimed at the Allied base at Midway Island."

This surprise attack had three elements: An air attack and an attack by a fleet of ships, which would then combine for a joint attack when American reinforcements arrived from Pearl Harbor.

The Japanese plan of attack was discovered by American Navy codebreakers, who used subterfuge to find out that Japan intended to attack Midway and they intercepted Japanese radio messages to discover the rest of the details.

By the end of the battle, 307 Americans were dead, while over 3,000 Japanese soldiers lost their lives. The U.S. also lost one fleet carrier and one destroyer and around 150 aircraft, while Japan lost four fleet carriers, a heavy cruiser (plus another that was damaged) and around 250 aircraft.

Midway, the movie, features a number of real-life characters from the battle. For example, Admiral Chester Nimitz, the commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, is played by Woody Harrelson, while intelligence officer Rear Admiral Edwin Layton, who was key to cracking Japanese codes, is brought to the screen by Patrick Wilson.

Soldiers like rear seat gunner Bruno Gaido, who was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross after going missing presumed dead, is portrayed by Nick Jonas, while Darren Criss is fighter squadron leader Lieutenant Commander Eugene E. Lindsey.

Midway is in theaters now.

'Midway' Movie: The True Story Behind the War Movie From 'Independence Day' Director Roland Emmerich | Culture