Modern Japan’s relationship with WWII is pretty fascinating. The island nation has never quite come to terms with their loss of the war, which ended for them 61 years ago yesterday. The Emperor’s radio address to his people didn’t mention “defeat” or “surrender,” but rather “enduring the unendurable,” a wonderfully Japanese turn of phrase. Through the intervening six decades it wasn’t just their loss that troubled the Japanese, but their involvement in the first place, and their often savage behavior. The Rape of Nanking has been a bone of contention in Japanese schools – while in modern America we go out of our way to talk about our nation’s past sins, hoping to avoid making the same mistakes in the future, Japanese war crimes are almost never taught to their children. In fact, many young Japanese have no idea that the US and Japan were ever at war.
So it’s interesting to look at the Japanese marketing for Clint Eastwood’s Iwo Jima duology, Flags of Our Fathers, telling the battle from the American point of view and Red Sun, Black Sand, telling it from the Japanese side. It’s a fascinating project no matter how you look at it, but examining it through the prism of modern Japanese culture is even more interesting.
I wish I could speak or read Japanese so that I could get a better sense of the combined trailer for the two films, which has appeared on the Warner Bros Japanese site. As just a film lover, it’s my first look at the film in action (my first take: it looks a bit like Saving Private Ryu. I wish someone would make a WWII movie that didn’t have that washed out look), but it’s also intriguing to realize that this trailer was released right around VJ Day, surely not a holiday celebrated in Nippon.
Click here to check out the trailer. By the way, note that Red Sun, Black Sand has a release date in Japan – December 16, I believe. I wonder why we still don’t have a solid date here in the US. And the December release date is interesting from an Oscar perspective – Flags of Our Fathers is the more obvious Oscar bait of the two pictures, but it’s being released in October. Does that mean the belief is that Red Sun, Black Sand will remind everyone in December about Clint’s ambitious WWII story?