井の中の蛙

9/26/2005

Frank Capra’s Know Your Enemy: Japan

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 2:44 pm

The (in)famous 1945 Frank Capra propaganda piece Know Your Enemy: Japan can now be ordered very inexpensively as an extra on the $9.99 DVD of John Ford’s December 7th: The Pearl Harbor Story. It was previously available on video at a more expensive price here. I remember watching this movie some years ago and having bizarre mixed feelings of disgust and admiration for the work’s effective techniques.

There is an interesting article discussing the movie by Claudia Springer, “Military Propaganda: Defense Department Films from World War II and Vietnam” Cultural Critique No. 3 (Spring, 1986) 151-167. JSTOR link

This info was passed on courtesy of Ian Miller, Asst. Professor at Arizona State University and a friend who has been wonderfully helpful with advice about graduate school since I met him at the IUC Japanese language program in 1997. He recommends the movie as material for teaching, combining it with readings from John Dower’s War Without Mercy. See his original comment posting this info here.

2 Responses to “Frank Capra’s Know Your Enemy: Japan

  1. kotaji says:

    I guess the US military has now privatised this work to Fox News.

  2. socratesabroad says:

    “I remember watching this movie some years ago and having bizarre mixed feelings of disgust and admiration for the work’s effective techniques.”

    If I had no firsthand knowledge of Japan, I probably would have been bothered by the depictions in Know Your Enemy and similar films, e.g. My Japan (1945, Treas. Dept) and Our Enemy: The Japanese (1943, Office of War Info., Bureau of Motion Pictures). Having lived and worked in Japan for 6 1/2 years, though, I tend to find that the portrayals, albeit a bit exaggerated, still come quite close to the mark. And of course my current stay of several years in China has reinforced some assumptions.

    As for the label “(in)famous,” that would best be used to describe more appropriate candidates like Unit 731 Experiments and annual ministerial prayer visits to Yasukuni Shrine.

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