This is possibly one of my greatest possessions. I bought it 2 years ago, but haven’t watched it until recently. I was waiting for a moment when I had enough time as I knew it was something to be taken seriously and not just put on will I did other things.
Gary Sinise is the narrator for the general film and a number of other actors narrate the stories of the people who are highlighted in the film. The footage is all top class. Having seen a great many WWII documentaries I’ve seen countless hours of film over the years and yet much, if not all, of what is features here is new to me.
The film is an emotional roller coaster. You’ll feel pride in America, and the people who’s stories you hear, and you’ll feel sad and grossed-out at the scenes of death and wounding. There are a number of scenes that made me squirm just a bit. I dislike watching sports injuries because I can almost feel the pain(Joe Theismann), so seeing bandages removed and the burnt, mangled bodies beneath them is unpleasant, but something that should be seen. There is an interesting part in the film when Robert Sherrod, a reporter with the Marines at Tarawa, told FDR that a documentary on the events should be shown uncensored to show people the reality of the far off war. Roosevelt had to approve the documentary, which he did, because the material was to harsh for producers to release.
However don’t get the impression the film is all blood and guts. Most of the footage is nothing of the sort.
One of the more interesting things to see is the early training cuts. When draft reportees are being drilled and can barely march, let alone hold a rifle. They literally are a bunch of klutzes. Added to that many scenes with shirtless GI’s who cut an unimpressive figure and you wonder just how they managed to win on two fronts. It says something about the world when millions and millions of uncoordinated and wimpy looking kids were each given a gun, tank, or airplane without any experience with such things and yet today kids who grow up with their hands on everything imaginable in the form of toys and videogames can’t be trusted with a slingshot. It’s not even just the kids, but all of society that apparently can’t be trusted. My how standards have fallen.
Something I’ve noticed in history books before and also noticed on my WW2 in HD DVD, was the use of the term Japs. In the letters, and references from Americans about the Japanese it’s almost always Jap this and Jap that. Almost exclusively the use of the full term Japanese is limited to official government records, i.e. “the nation of japan”.
What’s interesting to remember is that Jap was a racist term. Maybe not so horribly racist consdiering the limited direct interaction americans had with the japanese but it was rascist nonetheless. One of many in an era of racist terms.
Sure the Germans were referred to as gerry, huns, boche, krauts, heines, and a great many more but the germans were more relatable. American and german businesses and people were intimately intwined. It’s interesting to see how people had to simply give that up during the 1930’s and also interesting to see how german-americans were so much more supportive of america than germany(as they were during ww1 as well).
back to the main point, the japs were bad, undeniably different people. Not just a nation, but different people in a way that race was more like a species than a distinction.
and here we are 68 years later and who has been one of our best friends in the internation community that whole time but Japan. The was fought between the US and japan was brutal, racist, mean, and based on differences and almost as soon as it was over that was all forgotten. As if it was nothing more than a wrestling challenge between brothers or best friends.
It just goes to show what can be had for firmness. The united states was very generous in its treatment of the axis nations after the war, a credit that can be applied to it perhaps alone amonst nations. The united states was generous in rebuilding both germanty and japan yet it was also very frim. It had expectations in line with its own ideas though not immune to the specifics of each nation and it held ot those expectations and as a result succedded in building successful coutnries.
Maybe it has something to do with the national characterisitcs of germany and japan that they could rebuild so well, but it is in no small part that the united states had high expectations.
Still the united states and japan though friendly as friends can be are still different nations. The japanese today are just as different now as they were in 1941-45, but it doesnt matter. the caues for the racist ideas of the past are still there but they have been discarded because it has been realized that it is better to be successful friends than failing enemies. Again that is due to having high standards. If the united states treated the japanse as if they could never be part of the modern western world than they never would ahve been. think about that and how it affects are nations choice of actions in recent history.