Tuesday, August 16, 2005
The Great Raid: I just walked in the door from seeing the last showing of the day of "The Great Raid." It's not quite as emotionally moving as the last great WW II movie to come down the pipe, "Saving Private Ryan," but it's well worth your time to check it out.
I'd read a little about the movie in the days leading up to its Friday release, but what really piqued my interest was a Friday interview with director John Dahl on Michael Medved's radio show. Medved highlighted a statement made in a review by the New York Times' Stephen Holden that made my blood boil, but I felt I should see the film first before proclaiming Holden an ignorant idiot overwhelmed by a politically correct culture.
Its scenes of torture and murder also unapologetically revive the uncomfortable stereotype of the Japanese soldier as a sadistic, slant-eyed fiend.
This just in, moron, the sorry fact is that the Japanese soldiers who ran POW camps were sadistic fiends. The movie opens with Japanese soldiers herding American POWs into "air raid" shelters. Then out come 55 gallon drums of gasoline and the Americans are burned to death -- except for those who manage to climb out, on fire, who are machine-gunned.
As much as it may pain Holden to see it, we shouldn't be covering up what the Japanese did during World War II. Can you imagine Holden complaining about Stephen Spielberg's portrayal of the Nazis in "Schindler's List" as reviving the "uncomfortable stereotype" of the Germans as cold, calculating, methodical murderers?
I've had the book "A Public Betrayed: An inside look at Japanese media atrocities and their warnings to the West," on my bookshelf for a few months, it just got moved in the pile of "things I've got to read." Why? Because I've known for years what Holden still doesn't know -- that the behavior of the Japanese during World War II was just as atrocious and barbaric as that of the Nazis. The book's jacket lists just a few things that most Japanese born in the years after World War II have never heard about:
- Denying the Holocaust and supporting anti-Semitism
- Whitewashing and denying one of history's worst war crimes, the Nanjing Massacre
- Defaming Second World War Japanese military sex slaves or "comfort women"
They could easily have added any number of atrocities against captured POWs -- including the infamous Bataan Death March.
I strongly encourage you to see this film. Unlike too many movies that have come out of post-Vietnam Hollywood, "The Great Raid" tells a story of American military -- and Filipino -- heroism and bravery. For a more honest, and not so blinkered, review, check out Stephen Hunter's piece in The Washington Post.
"The Great Raid" tells the story of 6th Battalion's very good night's work, and while one might have wished for a better movie, and a few smarter decisions regarding the screenplay, generally it's a riveting, even inspirational account of an American feat of arms about which few know but about which many more should.
Here, here. Go see it.