Gunki hatameku motoni (1972)
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Watch it with English subtitles here: https://ok.ru/video/2595369650854
WW2 Pacific Front; war has never been this depraved and exciting at the same time, all thanks to the glorious Imperial Japanese Army! This is THE best WW2 movie ever made, the blend between a "documentary" and a war drama is seamless and you just gotta love the exploits of IJA at the Pacific Theater.
No one does national shame like Japan, these little yellow men excel at hiding the truth and reasoning absolutely horrendous things in the name of the Emperor. And I don't blame them, just like Father Mishima tried to teach us, there's nothing more dangerous than trying to renounce Hirohitos claim for divinity. The men at IJA fought for a living God, there was no greater honor than to die in his name during a glorious banzai charge. But then these charlatans come and claim that the brave men died for a man, a simple man... Shameful display!
When the realities of war meet the expectations that were placed on a common soldier in IJA the lines between good and evil, right and wrong get blurred. The Pacific Front wasn't quite the meat grinder as the Eastern Front, but it was hell on earth on its own right. Due to the nature of island warfare, the shipments of supplies were scarce and sometimes nonexistent and the common soldier rarely got a piece of the supplies as they were reserved for the higher ups. Tasty natives and fallen brothers in arms were the main source of food for many common soldiers, obviously this wasn't allowed in Emperors great army, so many of the men that were caught doing such despicable acts as trying to survive were executed as deserters, only to hide the true nature of war.
The "documentary"-scenes were nice change of pace compared to the war scenes. Also the denial and the lengths the veterans were willing to go to hide the truth after all these years was truly eye-opening. The culture of silence the Japanese have towards the things that happened in the war is a real thing of beauty. All in all this movie depicts the depravity of war and the machinations of IJA on the Pacific Front perfectly, Fires On The Plain is also a good choice if you want to see a realistic film about this side of the war, but this movie has way more intrigue to it.
Not only is this a truly great movie when it comes to the story, it's also beautifully shot and the sound design is great aswell. Some of the scenes in this film are above others, the botched execution and the final execution are both great examples of the madness and futility of war, and the "Last Meal"-scene near the end is some of the most beautiful cinema ever created. The only downside to this movie is its length, only 96 minutes, would've love to sit for an hour or two more.
I ate a man ... a man. But the world didn't change.
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In 3 official lists
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This movie ranks #96 in ICM Forum's 500<400
This movie ranks #156 in Tom Vick's Asian Cinema: A Field Guide
This movie ranks #397 in Doubling the Canon