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Battle of Okinawa
Battle of Okinawa
Actors: Keiju Kobayashi, Yűz˘ Kayama, Tetsur˘ Tanba, Tatsuya Nakadai, Mayumi Ozora
Director: Kihachi Okamoto
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Military & War
UR     2007     2hr 29min

With the country on the brink of disaster and defeat imminent, Japan fortifies its last defensive stronghold, the island of Okinawa. This final stand against the Allied attack soon becomes the bloodiest battle of the Paci...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Keiju Kobayashi, Yűz˘ Kayama, Tetsur˘ Tanba, Tatsuya Nakadai, Mayumi Ozora
Director: Kihachi Okamoto
Creators: Hiroshi Murai, Yoshitami Kuroiwa, Hiroshi Haryu, Sanezumi Fujimoto, Kaneto Shind˘, Ry˘z˘ Kasahara
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Military & War
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Military & War
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 11/06/2007
Original Release Date: 09/11/1973
Theatrical Release Date: 09/11/1973
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 2hr 29min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 6
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: Japanese
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Saw this great Epic as a kid !
asugar2 | Seattle USA | 04/06/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Saw this as a kid at Toyo Cinema here in Seattle back in the mid 70's.
Pretty intense movie showing the Okinawan civilians being killed or committing suicide because they refused to surrender because of fear of the American troops.
Review by David Carter
The Battle of Okinawa is quite possibly the most important battle of the Pacific Theatre, if not of the entire Second World War. Strategically, Okinawa was to be the jumping off point for the invasion of the Japanese mainland but the outcome and the toll the battle took drove history in a completely different direction. The American forces underestimated the resolve of both the Japanese military and the Okinawan citizens. Men, women, and children all took up arms in defense of the island creating a situation where civilian casualties were double those of the Japanese or American forces. JAPAN'S LONGEST DAY director Kihachi Okamoto brings us the tragic story of the battle in his BATTLE OF OKINAWA, now available from AnimEigo.

BATTLE OF OKINAWA is a historically accurate drama and the events unfold with clockwork precision and with occasional expositional narration. Unlike JAPAN'S LONGEST DAY, BATTLE OF OKINAWA deals with more than just the "big names" involved in the conflict. The real meat of the story is revealed through numerous fictionalized elements involving the people of Okinawa and not their military leaders. These citizens play important roles in several key events but are often not named, a metaphorical nod to their omission from history books. History provides us with statistics about the civilian casualties, but BATTLE OF OKINAWA gives them a human face. This makes the eventual (and historically controversial) push for mass suicides, either via rushing into battle or actual suicides, all the more shocking. Particularly haunting is the film's final scene, which goes farther than most similar films to adequately portraying the horrors of war.

It should be noted that BATTLE OF OKINAWA was made from the Japanese perspective for Japanese audiences. Therefore viewers from other cultures may want to take the time to familiarize themselves with Japanese culture (particularly during WWII) to be able to fully understand alien concepts such as kamikaze and seppuku. Films like this can be especially enlightening for American viewers, who likely have only heard one side of the story. BATTLE OF OKINAWA in no way glorifies Japan's imperialistic gambit; in fact the film condemns many of the prevailing thought patterns inherent in that belief. The film's highly symbolic ending contains a scene where a very nationalistic young solider is seen yelling at a group of women about Japan's imminent victory and the glory of dying for your country. Moments later, a mortar shell detonates nearby and he starts cowering and clutching to the women for safety. This is most likely a metaphor for the overarching theme of the film: that Japan in essence "sacrificed" Okinawa to the Americans by not providing enough military support.

AnimEigo brought us JAPAN'S LONGEST DAY so it's only logical that they should also present BATTLE OF OKINAWA on an equally impressive disc. The picture and audio quality are both outstanding here; no flaws in either can be found. AnimEigo outdoes themselves with an enormous amount of information in their Program Notes section. I'd go so far as to recommend that you read these notes before watching the film if you're not very familiar with the battle; the added information will increase your enjoyment and understanding significantly.

BATTLE OF OKINAWA may be too difficult for some viewers out there. Those of you without an interest in history may have trouble with the film's over two hour run time. I'd recommend that you give it chance, however. Unlike most historical dramas, BATTLE OF OKINAWA is more than a dry recounting of facts. It's a human story about a great tragedy that those on both sides regret, and one that the ramifications of still echo today."
Typhoon of Steel
Zack Davisson | Seattle, WA, USA | 09/04/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Although best known in the West for his samurai flicks such as The Sword of Doom And Kill!, almost 1/3rd of director Okamoto Kihachi's work was war films. A soldier himself during the Second World War, he knew first hand the trauma and cost of total war. It is never simply a battle between soldiers, and non-combatant citizens often pay the heaviest toll of all.

"Battle of Okinawa" ("Gekido no showashi: Okinawa kessen") is Okamoto's attempt to tell the story of one of the bloodiest battles of the US/Japan war. Unlike such films as Tora! Tora! Tora! and Letters from Iwo Jima, this movie is told entirely from the Japanese point of view, or more particularly the Okinawan point of view. These are the people...general, barber, soldier, nurse, farmer, student, prostitute...who lived and died under the "typhoon of steel" lasting 82 days and ending with 1/4th of the civilian population of the island dead along with roughly 66,000 dead Japanese soldiers and 12,000 American.

A movie without main characters, an ensemble cast of familiar faces play the various walks of life bound up in the conflict. Kobayashi Keiju (Chushingura) plays the old Gen. Ushijima, a man trying his best to fight a hopeless battle with dignity and honor. His two aids, Tamba Tetsuro (Three Outlaw Samurai) and Nakadai Tatsuya (Harakiri) are the classic Hawk and Dove, with Tamba pushing for a glorious all-out attack and Nakadai wanting to go defensive and save lives. Tanaka Kunie (The Wolves) plays a hapless barber who joins the military staff in order to provide for his family, who has been sent to the mountains to hide. Ozora Mayumi (Samurai Banners) is a cheerful prostitute-turned-nurse who tries to keep spirits up while everything turns bleaker. There are many, many other characters that appear and disappear, live and die, in an eye blink, but add to the overall tapestry.

Politically speaking, as all war films are political, the general message is "war is bad for everyone, but especially the losers". Although told from a Japanese perspective, there are heroes and villains enough to satisfy, and this definitely isn't a "poor Japan"-type of flick. The soldiers try to believe they are dying for a good cause, but that belief becomes harder and harder to maintain. The civilians want to support their country, but they end up being slaughtered by ally and enemy alike, and sometimes it is easier just to kill themselves and get the job done early. The massive suicides of the Okinawan people are covered in this film, although the controversy surrounding it remains neutral in tone.

Almost a documentary more than a movie, the different character threads are intercut with actual war footage and voice over. This affects the pace of the film, which is slow and sometimes undynamic. Okamoto makes sure that the history is correct, and doesn't sacrifice reality for drama. Not that it is by any means boring, but there is something quite studious about it. Animeigo clearly recognizes this, as some of the bonus features are intended to be used in a classroom setting for those studying WWII. I could imagine this film to be quite the effective learning tool for high schoolers, putting a face on the enemy and understanding the true cost of war."
Not perfect disc or movie but I laud the effort
Michael A. Martinez | Fairbanks, AK USA | 07/11/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Since the 1950's, the Japanese have steadily cranked out numerous large-scale big-budget war films, of which almost none have been released in America! Such fine works as RENGO KANTAI, STORM OVER THE PACIFIC, THE SIEGE OF FORT BISMARK, etc have barely even touched the western hemisphere. Finally one comes to DVD in the form of this highly depressing mood piece, though with a typically Japanese comprehensiveness to its detail and coverage of all the major highlights.

The acting is excellent by all and the directing taught and superb. There's plenty of action scenes and largely correct use of period tanks, guns, uniforms, planes, etc. Toho effects wiz (and Eiji Tsuburaya's next-in-line) Teruyoshi Nakanao supplies a generous dose of pyrotechnic effects, though unfortunately they're not given center stage or slow motion treatment like his brilliant work in THE SUBMERSION OF JAPAN around the same time.

No, this one focuses more on drama and really shines in the talking scenes. The only real lackage is in the action scenes which often feel cheap and small considering the scope of the battle. A lot of the bigger scenes such as the American landings and the sinking of the Yamato are neat to see, but are accomplished largely with stock footage! Black and White 1.33 stock footage horizontally stretched out to 2.35! The footage used is largely inaccurate too - subbing the HMS Barham for the Yamato. Nakano recreated the Yamato sinking (and quite spectacularly so) via a massive model in 1981's RENGO KANTAI (which is not available in the states though).

Overlooking these faults, it's a fine film and well worth your time. Buy a copy to encourage this (and other) companies to release more excellent Toho war movies."
The real Okinawa.
Walter J. Hofman | Tennessee, USA | 03/27/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is one of the most realistic movies on war I have seen, and I have seen many and served in war myself! Having served on Okinawa and lived with Okinawans for four years I wish I had seen this movie a long time ago. The people of Okinawa did their duty to the Emporer and never received credit for their valor. They were and still are treated as second class citizens by the Japanese. They are a brave and likeable people and this movie is a must for anybody that ever served there. This movie is one of the best directed and filmed that I have in my collection. A true masterpiece!"