War in the Movies

The year is 1941. The Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor, and the United States of America is aghast at this terrible feat against their country. The first thing that enters the minds of thousands of people: retribution.

Fast forward to the present, 51 years after the incident in question. Several movies have been made, each with a strong bias toward the American side. In every movie, the Japanese are portrayed as inhumane, violent monsters, and the Americans as the heroes of the entire conflict. What makes this okay? How is this morally correct and accepted? What makes reenacting an event that killed thousands and thousands of people in a two-hour movie appropriate?

While Webster defines war as “as contest between nations or states, or between parties in the same state, carried on by force of arms for various purposes”, the media sees war as a money-making ploy. All one needs is the idea of any random war, a few million dollars, some actors, explosives, and a way to dramatize the whole thing into a love story, and BOOM!, one has themselves a war movie. But why is it that no one finds this wrong? Why is it right to make loads of money from a multimillion dollar modernization of an international quarrel?

One, possibly the only acceptable way to document a war is to raise awareness by giving us facts without partiality or fictious details. However, this cannot be achieved. In the most recent Pearl Harbor movie, neither of these qualifications comes close to applying to the traits above. That movie was for sheer entertainment only. The Japanese are made to look bad in this movie, just as they look bad in every other American Pearl Harbor movie. When the Americans shoot down the Japanese planes, everyone cheers, and happy music is played throughout the full scene. Who cannot define that as bias? And the staging of the love story during the movie: what does this have to do with anything? What part of the war does this support? It supports nothing. The point is, if one wants to make a movie about a war, keep it nonfiction and tell both sides of the story exactly like they are.

There is a Japanese animated movie called Ushiro no Shoumen Dare, or Who’s Left Behind, which is based on a true story. The protagonist, Kayoko, lives in Tokyo with her mother, father, grandmother, and four brothers during the time of the war. The US retaliates with the air raids. Her entire family is killed but one of her brothers, and her whole neighborhood is burned to the ground. Her story tells it the way it happened, without any extraneous scenes or bias toward the Japanese side. It’s way more informative and less dramatized than any American movie.

My point is, it’s wrong to render others as fiends for the entertainment of others, or reenact a war for the money.

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