Thursday, April 24, 2008

Documentary: "Wings of Defeat"

(Image borrowed from "Wings of Defeat" website.)

"Veteran kamikaze pilot" might sound like a contradiction in terms — kamikaze were, after all, the Japanese warriors trained to crash their planes into Allied targets in World War II. Around 4,000 of them died during the war's last days.

But some kamikaze survived, and several of them have been visiting high schools and colleges around the United States. That has led to unusual scenes: classrooms full of teenagers — black, white, Latino, Asian — all teary-eyed from the experience of meeting elderly men once dedicated to fighting America to the death...

The former kamikaze on the schools tour are featured in a documentary called Wings of Defeat, which examines the frantic, desperate nationalism that engulfed Japan toward the end of the war. The film makes clear that the kamikaze corpsmen weren't volunteers. Most were drafted as teenagers, barely able to fly.

The kamikaze were told that they were gods, heroes, divinely chosen to save their country. They were beaten and brainwashed. Wings of Defeat includes archival footage of officers exhorting their young charges to die.

Read the whole story, listen to the whole story, see photographs and video clips from the film at the National Public Radio Website.

Link to "Wings of Defeat": Kamikaze Stories, Told in Person on NPR:

Get more information about the award winning 2007 documentary film at its website.

Link to "Wings of Defeat" website:

This film doesn't seem to be generating the controversy that another recent Japanese documentary has been... "Wings of Defeat" was screened at the Japan Embassy in Washington, D.C. with the director and producer available for comments and questions afterwards. And, apparently, the film is available on DVD in Japan under its Japanese title, Tokko.

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