2007, 89 minutes
Digital video, color, and black & white
In English and Japanese with English Subtitles
This fascinating documentary about kamikaze pilots who survived World War II will screen next Tuesday, November 11th, 2008 at 6:00 PM at Columbia University. A discussion with producer/director Risa Morimoto and producer/writer Linda Hoaglund will start at approximatley 8:00 PM, following the screening.
Ms. Morimoto, born and raised in New York, was surprised to learn that a beloved uncle, dead for several years, had been trained as a kamikaze. Having never questioned that they were fanatics, she was now faced with the puzzling question of why her good-natured uncle had wanted to become a kamikaze.
(Photo credit: The National Archives and Research Administration)
Her efforts to resolve this conflict led to interviews with family members, other surviving members of the Tokkotai (as the Special Attack Force pilots referred to themselves), and with survivors of the U.S.S. Drexler, a destroyer that perished in a kamikaze attack. Those interviews form the core of this extraordinary and fascinating documentary.
From it emerges a far different view of the Kamikaze than the conventional one. Here they are seen for the most part as young men who saw this as a duty that one had to fulfill, though they did so with no great enthusiasm.
Takeo Ueshima as a member of the Tokkotai
(Photo credit: Takeo Ueshima)
Wings of Defeat will be shown at the Altschul Auditorium, International Affairs Building, 4th Floor,118th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. Admission is free and no reservations are requiredCampus map showing the location of the International Affairs building here.
This screening is part of the Soldiers and Soldiering in Twentieth-Century Japan lecture series sponsored by The Weatherhead East Asian Insititute.
My full review of Wings of Defeat appeared in AsianCineFest 088, Monday, March 17, 2008. I also wrote about it, and about Ms Hoaglund (who is most widely known as an outstanding translator of Japanese film dialogue) in the current issue of Asian Cult Cinema magazine, issue #60.
The Wings of Defeat website can be accessed by clicking here.