Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Exhausted Soldier

The Fighting Soldier (1939), A Chinese watching his house burnt down

Propaganda films are, in principle, very clear about what message it should convey. One of the most notable example, TRIUMPH OF THE WILL is very efficient in transmitting its message. Images are designed to portray Nazi regime to be the liberator of German race, the symbol of national rebirth. Absurd, sure, but in 1934 Germany, an average citizen never knew the horrors to come. TRIUMPH is a very unique material. It is a rather dull document of the Nazi party political rally, propaganda to every frame.

In Japan during WWII, any media, newspaper, literature, art, theater, film was heavily censored and monitored. The wartime government exploited news reports, news reels and other documentaries to express its agenda, to emphasize its moral ground, and to exaggerate its achievements. Several government functions and military ministries produced many so-called "culture films". These documentaries were coupled with entertainment films so that general audience, who visited the theater for another Ken Uehara movie, would get government messages. In 1937, Ministry of Army decided to document the China war zone and under this political support, the director Fumio Kamei and cinematographer Kiyoshi Miki followed the troops to the Battle of Wuhan. The result was THE FIGHTING SOLDIER (TATAKAU HEITAI). This is one of the strangest propaganda films in the history of cinema. The Army wanted to make a good war propaganda, instead they got this 'anti-war' film. The film was banned and its negative was destroyed.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Run, Yasubei, Run

Here is another Masahiro Makino film clip. The clip is the last climax of CHIKEMURI TAKADANOBABA (1937). This was one of the two blockbusters of 1937 New Year Season, and amazingly, both of them were directed by Makino.

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