[chinese blood, irish heart] - DEFUNCT: Letters From Iwo Jima

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Letters From Iwo Jima

It's been quite awhile since I've been to the cinema, in fact the last film I watched was Flags of Our Fathers, hence I was pretty excited to buy its sisters version, Letters From Iwo Jima.
I love a good war film and I did enjoy Letters in general, however its fictional and patronising view of the film's characters kept gnawing at me. The film's central characters, Kuribayashi, Saigo and Nishi, stand for sympathy and kindness. Saigo because he's a baker forced into the war, but for Kuribayashi and Nishi, their gentleness and humility seems to come from the fact that they've lived in the US or befriended Americans in the past, as we see from their flashbacks. How pretentious of the film makers to do this! The theme is like "see, Japanese soldiers can be good too." Well I certainly didn't need to watch it to know. I reckon we need more films like Letters that tells the "other side's story." I think the Germans and Japanese have been villified enough in the enterainment media.

There's a certain political correctness when it comes to portraying war films from different perspectives; needless to say a lot of films are viewed from the Allies' perspective - American, British and Russian. There's been a few but good films from the Germans' view, such as "Cross of Iron", "The Eagle Has Landed" and the magnificent "Downfall". Don't think I've seen any films from the Italians' or Japanese view.
Even video games suffer from this syndrome: all the top WW2 games like Medal of Honor, Call of Duty, Brothers in Arms series etc. are all from the Allies' perspective, where you kill generic Germans and Japs. Vietnam-based games are also like this, though one particular game, Vietcong, allows the player to be in the shoes of a scruffy Vietcong soldier - BUT - you don't get to kill Yanks, just AVRN. Go figure. Not that I say I would derive more pleasure from playing the "bad guys" but at least stop making it so one-sided!