Power of Propaganda in Japanese Post-War Film Industry
Many films have been produced documenting the struggle during World War II. The Japanese film industry thrived in its own way. Like other countries, Japan developed their own system for regulating film. In April 1939, the Motion Picture Law strengthened government control over all aspects of film making and viewing. The Government also banned all American and British films from being shown in Japan, but Axis films were allowed and enjoyed. In Japan the production of feature films decreased during the war, but the production of newsreels sky-rocketed. In 1937, Japanese film production peaked producing 2,500 films–1,000 of those being newsreels.
Japanese cinema was used to promote a sense of purity, pride and strength as a country. Purity was the supreme character trait of a hero. However, Japan as a country was still against America and Communism, as was the basic ideas behind their film. The director of the acclaimed U.S. propaganda film series Why We Fight, Frank Capra, even acknowledged the excellence of this film, “We can’t beat this kind of thing….We make a film like that maybe once in a decade. We haven’t got the actors’. Though the film focused on the struggle of a Japanese father, the war with China was what was keeping them apart. The war was the enemy. Kamei Fumio’s Fighting Soldiers and Tasaka Tomotaka’s Mud and Soldiers also showed the emotional drain of war. Unlike other countries movies, Japan took the position of the underdog. This made the public feel a strong need to help the military. Japanese also used anime as propaganda. Momotaro’s Divine Sea Warriors was an animated film that stared a Japanese folk hero and his animal buddies. The animals drove British soldiers off an island. The film had an overall friendly feel despite the subject matter.
Japanese film differed greatly from other films produced during the war. The Japanese tended to portray a higher level of taste and historical accuracy in their film. The Japanese produced their own war epics by recreating events portrayed and incorporating real news footage and photographs. The Japanese were also praised for their feature films. Their movies were executed with a high level of sophistication. They accomplished this by avoiding showing images of the enemy. Although Japan approached film differently, they still used film to communicate propaganda to the public.
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