Published on July 25th, 2008 | by Chris0
Japan’s Longest Day (Nihon no ichiban nagai hi, 1968)
Japan's Longest Day deals with the surrender of Japanat the end of World War II. What makes this movie particularly interesting is the perspective, that of the Japanese. I didn't know what to expect from this film going in, and I have to say I was surprised, intrigued, educated, and even a bit entertained.
Based on the true events following the Allies' Potsdam Declaration, we witness the events in between that event, and the ground-breaking broadcast of the Emperor's voice over the radio, finally declaring the Japanese defeat.
What I was totally unaware of (or at least I totally forgot!) was the division and strife the decision to accept an (almost) unconditional surrender caused. What we see here is the story of this division, leading up to a failed coup attempt by members of the Imperial guard and other factions of the military.
Culturally speaking, Japan's Longest Day shows the Japanese' varied reactions to the event. From the die-hard factions of the military, hell bent on continuing the war to the last man, to the Emperor and his cabinet, reluctantly willing to concede defeat in order to preserve the nation as a whole.... This aspect of the picture was most interesting to me, as its a viewpoint we Americans will rarely, if ever see. The crushing blow to the Japanese "spirit" was certainly evident, as members of the cabinet weep uncontrollably as the Emperor cedes his "god like" status and allows his voice to be heard by the nation. You begin to understand what the surrender meant to the people of Japan, and what it must have felt like.
What *is* missing from the picture is the events after the Emperor's declaration, such as the signing of the surrender onboard the USS Missouri, and any mention of the government's attempts to cover up evidence of war crimes. Although we do see them burning piles and piles of documents, its never said what these are (at least that I could tell.)
What we do find is a certain amount of "pride" in the nation of Japan, despite their defeat. Given the source I will say that I'll give them that. The aspects of building a new, peaceful Japan finally come out in the end, thankfully. Along with the statement that Japan should never have to endure another humiliating blow such as this. What you won't find is any sort of "yeah, we were wrong" statement, which is a little troublesome.
If you're not a fan of subtitles, then you'll probably want to stay away from Japan's Longest Day. There are a *lot* of subtitles to take in. From the dialog, to on-screen translation of every name, date, and place, and even signage, that appears. I had to actually rewind a few times so I could read both the dialog translation and the additional text, there's that much at times. That sort of thing doesn't bother me, but it can be troublesome for others.
Putting all the history and facts aside, it stands quite well as a "political thriller" type of film. In fact there are a couple of places it delves into the realm of the stereotypical samurai-movie action, while it may just be a byproduct of the special effects technology available at the time, it comes across as a little gratuitous.
There are a few faces which will be familiar to followers of Japanese films, such as the eternally excellent Toshiro Mifune as the War Minister Anami, and more which would show up quite prominently in Tora!, Tora!, Tora! later on.
Japan's Longest Day may prove slightly difficult to watch, depending on your viewpoints and opinions that we as Americans have come to accept and believe over the last sixty years or so, but its a must-see if you're at all interested in the opposite perspective. I firmly believe that Japan's Longest Day succeeds in spades at this where current American attempts, like Letters From Iwo Jima, fail.
Japan's Longest Day
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On August 15th, 1945, the Japanese people faced utter destruction. Millions of soldiers and civilians were dead, the rest were starving, and their cities had been reduced to piles of rubble — two of them vaporized by atomic bombs...
DVD InformationBinding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audience Rating: Unrated (Not Rated)
Brand: E1 ENTERTAINMENT
Original Release Date:
- Seiji Miyaguchi
- Rokkô Toura
- Chishû Ryû
- Sô Yamamura
- Toshirô Mifune
- The Dramatic True Story Of The End of WW II On August 15th, 1945, the Japanese people faced utter destruction. Millions of soldiers and civilians were dead, the rest were starving and their cities had been reduced to piles of rubble-two of them vaporized by atomic bombs. The government was deadlocked; some ministers called for surrender, and others argued that honor demanded a final battle o
Summary: Japan's Longest Day may prove slightly difficult to watch, depending on your viewpoints and opinions that we as Americans have come to accept and believe over the last sixty years or so, but its a must-see if you're at all interested in the opposite perspective.