Yuki yukite, shingun (1987)
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- The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On
- 122 min.
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Most of the delicious war crimes committed by the Japanese during the wars were commissioned by, and in the name of the Emperor Hirohito. Yet, the man walked free, thanks to MacArthur and his Yankee overlords.
This documentary, which has to be the best I've ever seen, tells the story of Kenzo Okuzaki, a mental case of a war veteran and his futile quest for truth and to shame Hirohito.
So how good is this documentary? Well, for most of the time, I forgot I was even watching a documentary. Granted, I love the subject matter more than the Pope loves tight virgin boys, but this is a mandatory watch for anyone who wants to truly understand war or advanced things like the Yamashita standard. I mean, this documentary even has cinematic tension with Rashomon-effect and the gradual uncovering of dark secrets of the past. But even if you're not into all that, the film is also seriously entertaining, courtesy of Okuzaki.
This documentary really is full of everything. Historical accuracy, spiritual undertones, juridical tidbits, Showa-era mindset, even philosophical discussions. The scenes, which are daringly long, kept me on the edge of my seat more than any thriller I've seen. The documentary is highly un-academic, it simply just thrusts the makers, and the viewer, into unpredictable situations.
Speaking of Okuzaki, he is now officially one of my favorite characters ever. He is a violent disciple of truth and justice and most of all, he is no innocent saint. He really isn't any better than the men he hounds. If his charisma checks and persuading fail, he simply resorts to violence and beating up his old superiors. Serious hilarity also ensues when he deceives the interviewees with impersonators of the victims' relatives.
"Violence is my forte" he proclaims towards the end of the film. This really made me think. He spoke for himself, but to me it seemed as if he spoke with the voice of the entire human race. Like Okuzaki, when people run out of words and patience they just simply start making a mess and causing destruction. :)
Okuzaki's journey came to a close with the only way I imagined it would, but "the most cowardly man in Japan" was still unaccounted for. Speaks how little a one man could do in a nation where the Emperor had no clothes.
You were one of the executioners, weren't you?
- I don't know
Natural law Tour de Force.
Must have been a great influence on Oppenheimer and co.
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In 7 official lists
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This movie ranks #23 in BFI's 100 Documentary Films
This movie ranks #35 in Sight & Sound's The Greatest Documentaries of All Time
This movie ranks #88 in Harvard's Suggested Film Viewing: Non-Fiction Films
This movie ranks #187 in iCheckMovies's Most Favorited
This movie ranks #410 in Mark Cousins's The Story of Film: An Odyssey
This movie ranks #584 in Sight & Sound's The Greatest Films of All Time
This movie ranks #732 in TSPDT's 1,000 Greatest Films