Sunday, August 15, 2010

442 – Live with honor, Die with dignity

This afternoon I ignored the Nihonmachi Street Fair in Japantown & instead sat with a packed audience in the Viz Cinema. We saw 442 – Live with honor, Die with dignity, a documentary by Junichi Suzuki about the famous 442nd infantry regiment. The film consists mainly of interviews with surviving soldiers, now all well into their 80's. There is also archival footage of the War & modern-day visits to battle sites in Italy & France. There is no new information here, but I like the documentary's point of view, which understands the distinctively Japanese cultural forces that motivated the soldiers. Concepts of duty, honor & shame made them recklessly self-sacrificing yet usually reluctant to talk about their experience. Daniel Inouye is a consummate interviewee. His description of first seeing the ground shot up by machine gun fire is straight out of The Charterhouse of Parma.

The Viz Cinema is not large, & the 2:50pm screening was completely full. The staff had to bring out folding chairs to accommodate everyone. The audience was probably largely the same age as the children of the veterans in the film. The film plays through Thursday, along with a companion documentary about the Japanese American internment called Toyo's Camera, which I also want to see.

No comments: