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An Assessment Between The Movies, Japan's War in Color and Why We Fight

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The films “Why We Fight” and “Japan’s War in Color” are vastly different from one another due to objectivity of the films. The ways that these two films present themselves give hint to the purpose that these films were trying to make. The film, “Why We Fight” was commissioned by the Department of Morale, and was meant to give reason for America’s involvement in Asia. The film’s purpose is obviously meant maintain and gain support for the war effort on America’s mainland. The film is targeted at American citizens living in places like Atlanta, Georgia, Washington D.C., or in Portland, Oregon. The film, “Japan’s War in Color” offers an analytical approach to the various causes of the war in Asia. The objective of this film is to provide a more accurate depiction of the causes and effects of the war in Asia. This film being targeted towards scholars of this area of history.

The first contrast that needs to be made between these two films is the nature of their narrators. It seems to be that in the film “Why We Fight”, the entire dialogue is made by what seems to be a masculine American voice. When the narrator is interrupted, it is in place of an American source, such as the ambassador of China speaks about Japan’s occupation in China. Even when the US ambassador is speaking, he seems to be reading allowed cue cards. Now this is purposively done in order to make the US a hero as much as possible. Even the use of a masculine voice is done purposively to bring about sentiments of honor and duty. Now in the other film “Japan’s War in Color”, different perspectives are given, which themselves are spoken in a Japanese dialect. Both sides are shown, such as small pockets of rebellion against the military emperorship of Japan, and even hardline militarist Japanese testimonies. What makes that special is that little room for biases are left, since both sides are shown in equal proportions. Now this is done simply because this how the academia works, evaluation and detective work must be done.

Next what needs to pointed out is what type of footage is shown between the two films. I could not but help but get a sense that military demonstrations were the bulk of the film “Why We Fight”. Then oddly enough, a few scenes seem to be taken from Hollywood films, especially when they were describing the old Chinese culture. One scene describing the Great Wall of China, the footage of men on horse back in what seemed to steppe bandits looked very Hollywood cliché. But the over use of military demonstrations, marches, soldiers storming trenches, close ups on Japanese soldiers looking menacing is done with the objective of making the US seem a hero in comparison of the Japanese. Even the depiction of the Chinese make it seem that they are under the US responsibility. The use of debasement is placed on the Chinese, sense one they are not given any representation other than the narrators own view of them, and makes it seem that they can not help themselves from the Japanese forces. The footage in the film “Japan’s War in Color” is extremely different from “Why We Fight”. First off, footage of typical Japanese life is shown, such as people working in the fields, footage of Tokyo on a normal day, footage various festivals. The footage attempts to encapsulate the whole human experience in the 1930’s and early 1940’s in Asia. Indeed, there is footage of war, but in this film it is hard at times to distinguish who is harming who. War is depicted as messy and full of collateral damage. Much rather this film isn’t attempting to call for more war, but expose the vices of war.

While trying to find some similarities between these two films, they only seem to agree based on the large historical facts, for example Japan’s occupation of Korea and Manchuria, Japan being the single most powerful state in Asia, and Japan’s imperialist campaign in Asia. But how these are expressed and analyzed are in different formats. For example, in “Why We Fight” these events are expressed in a outsiders point of view, which in this case is described as Japanese aggression. In the film, “Japan’s War in Color”, opinions are expressed from mainland Japan, people in China, intellectuals, soldiers on both fronts opinions are expressed to see their motives and explanations for taking part in the war.

In summary, the contrasts overweigh the similarities between the films. These two films have two complete different objectives. The makers of each film had in mind a certain way of depicting the war in mind. In the “Why We Fight”, it was a propaganda film meant to maintain support for the war in America. Certain things were done to achieve this such as refusing to use Japanese sources, focusing on the military aspect of Japan, and debasing the Chinese as helpless people needing American assistance. The film “Japan’s War in Color” was a academic piece meant to expose the different views that were held during this time in Asia. To explore both the militarist, the common folk, the liberals, the radicals, and the unaccounted for. The film was meant to explore the human experience that occurred in this time of human civilization.

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An Assessment between the Movies, Japan’s War in Color and Why We Fight. (2019, January 03). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 22, 2022, from
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