Sachiko Hidari gives a towering performance in Kinji Fukasaku's devastating anti-war drama as Mrs.Togashi, a war widow determined to clear the name of her disgraced husband, who was court-martialed for desertion and e... more »xecuted. Official records have been destroyed, and the ministry that distributes benefits continues to deny her a pension. Twenty-six years after the war, she seeks out four survivors of her husband's garrison. Each tells a dramatically different story about her husband's conduct, but she is determined to learn the truth. "Until my husband can rest in peace," she proclaims, "I'll have no comfort." Thus begins a Rashomon-like mystery that unfolds in harrowing flashbacks, punctuated by archival still combat images that convey the brutality and absurdity of war.« less
Visually Poetic Tale of Misery, Forgetfulness, and Death in
Kim Anehall | Chicago, IL USA | 06/29/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The director Kinji Fukasaku entered his adolescence during World War II and crossed the bridge into adulthood in postwar Japan. It was a time of disorder, chaos, and poverty where crime quickly rooted while spreading more problems among the struggling Japanese people. The chaotic time had a major impact on Fukasaku who later returned to postwar time through several of his gangster films. These films often presented a violent illustration of the time he experienced as a coming of age teen. Among the films that stand out are his The Yakuza Papers and Under the Flag of the Rising Sun.
Under the Flag of the Rising Sun is step away from Fukasaku's gangster films, as he tells a tale from the same time that affected him so much, but under a different light. Fukasaku's inspiration sources from Shoji Yuki's novel Under the Flag, which he bought the film rights for with his own money. What grabbed him in the novel was the dehumanization through war. The film received much attention, even the critics who disdained his violent gangster films praised this film for its inspirational narrative and forceful message.
Fukasaku opens the film with old archived pictures from the immense Japanese war machine of World War II. This swiftly switches through sudden cuts that move 26 years into the future after the Japanese defeat where the Emperor in commemorative ceremony pays respects to fallen soldiers. At the end of the ceremony a text reveals that out of the three million casualties some are denied the attention that these casualties receive. Among these is the widow Sakie husband Sergeant Katsuo Togashi who only know that her husband was executed due to desertion in combat. However, the records of his death are circumstantially weak. Thus, she seeks the truth of why and how the death of her husband came about.
The Japanese Ministry of Welfare have their hands tied behind their backs, as they have no other choice than to follow the records kept despite possible faulty record keeping. Yet, they provide Sakie with four names of survivors that might be able to help shed some light on the circumstances around her husband's death. In a clever narrative, which bears similarities with Kurosawa's Rashômon (1950), Fukasaku shows Sakie's visit to these four men. Each man is telling a story from his own perspective of the war in the New Guinea front where many died from starvation, illness, and possibly through battle. All stories are told differently through harrowing personal accounts of what they experienced in regards to Sergeant Togashi. These personal tales open with archived photos from the war while drifting over to black and white that crosses into color in order to maximize the gruesomeness of war. Through these stories the viewer gets to bear witness to different stories within the story, which makes the film even more fascinating.
Through the film the audience learns that the film tells a very dark and genuine image of the war. The image is enhanced through the camerawork of Hiroshi Segawa who develop a strong feeling of a documentary, which is augmented with the photos that have been edited into the film. Fukasaku developed a brilliant criticism toward war and the wrongdoings connected with war through Under the Flag of the Rising Sun. However, he extends his criticism by displaying that some still believed they were invincible regardless of the defeat. The shock of defeat might also have slowed the healing processes of Japan and left many in a prolonged state of suffering that continued for years and decades past the war.
A theme that is repeated throughout the film is forgetfulness and the desire to forget the pain of the past. Fukasaku portrays people's ability to forget the war problems in trying to teach the emerging youthful society that does not know anything about the war horrors. This notion suggests that when youth inherits the powerful positions within society they might repeat the horrors of war, as they never fully gained knowledge of the war due to previous generation's desire to forget the painful past. A symbolic scene for the forgetfulness displays two different generations with a generation in between that is missing. This scene shows a grandfather smiling and lecturing in the old ways of Japan to Sakie while his little granddaughter walks up and asks, "What's wrong grandfather?" The grandfather replies, "Nothing."
Well, if nothing was wrong, Sakie would not have been troubled or trying to discover the truth, a truth hidden in pain and gruesomeness of war that keeps linger for more than one generation due to desire to forget. Under the Flag of the Rising Sun is Fukasaku attempts to put a stick in the wheel, which hopefully will help prevent a similar mistake from taking place once more. Ultimately, Fukasaku created a visually poetic tale of misery, forgetfulness, and death."
Amazing w.w.2 drama
mi-de-ja | Japan | 06/01/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film is one of the most important japanese classical war cinema ever made. Made in early seventies, director Kinji Fukasaku and screenwriter Kaneto Shindo aggressivly accuse japanese imperialism and militarism. This Original novel was chosen naoki-prize (famous japanese literature prize) in 1970, written by Joji Yuki inspired from nearly true story in W.W.2."
vanhubris | Verona Beach, NY | 06/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sachiko Hidari is brilliant as a World War II widow vainly seeking to restore her husbands honor-lost when he was executed for alleged desertion. Visiting several survivors-she encounters "The Rashomon Effect"-people remembering themselves as more than they really were-as she vainly attempts to discover the truth. An excellent movie-depicting the lower depths of humanity when survival is at stake. This movie is effectively anti-war without promoting any special agendas other than to show that "War is Hell" This is the only movie of Fukasaku's that I've seen-so I can't compare it to his "Yakuza" movies--but IMO-it's an excellent movie-well worth purchasing! Caution-movie is sub-titled (for those who worry about such things)"
UCLA Crew | Arlington, VA | 11/06/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Rented this video in 1992 while visiting Japan, and was profoundly affected by it. Completely concur with other reviews about the impact this film will have on viewers.
Wish to purchase this DVD, but have a question regarding subtitles: is it the permanent-type found in Krzysztof Kieslowski's "Dekalog?" Or could it be turned off/hidden as in other foreign language films. Since I'm fluent in Japanese, a permanent subtitle would be a distraction. Appreciate any clarification. Thanks!"
One Of Japan's Most Profound Anti-War Film's Ever Made!
Ernest Jagger | Culver City, California | 12/16/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Under the Flag of the Rising Sun" is a masterpiece of cinema, and I highly recommend the film to all viewers. This film is a genuine masterpiece from director Kinji Fukasaku. First released in Japan in 1972, it has only recently been available in the west in its present form. The film is based on the novel "Under the Flag," by Shoji Yuki. The film has often been refered to as a Rashomon-type film. With different viewpoints and perspectives from the various characters in the film. The film opens with old WWII archival pictures of the Japanese war machine. The film then moves briskly through 26 years into the future and present time the film takes place, where the Emperor is at a commemoration ceremony paying tribute to the 3 million war dead.
However, not everyone is listed in the text that pays respect to the fallen soldiers. Some are left out. Among those who are left out is the name of Segeant Katsuo Togashi, who was apparently executed for desertion. However, the records of his death are not complete, and very much is missing into his death. His widow, Sakie Togashi (Sachiko Hidari) gives a riveting performance as the former wife who wants to understand why her husband died, and how. The Japanese Ministry can do nothing it seems, as the records [what little remain] no matter how faulty must be kept as they are. However, the ministry gives her the names of four men who know the circumstances of her husbands death. [Each with a different variation in details]. Hence the comparisons to Rashomon.
Her husband died on New Guinea. And each of the veterans give their own harrowing accounts of the horrors of the war. However, each give their own perspectives of the war. All of the stories are different, and each give a different account of Sergeant Togashi. When the stories are told, they are cleverly done in a way in which the viewer experiences what these soldiers went through. Fukasaku employs a technique in which each story opens up with archival photos of the war, drifting from black and white to color. The gruesomeness of the war is not spared. Each veterans perspective is riveting and shows the brutality of the New Guinea campaign. As such, the viewer witnesses the story as told by each veteran, and this makes [much like Rashomon] the film much more intriguing. Fukasaku created a brilliant film which should be seen by everyone. Highest recommendation [Stars: 5+++]"