Saturday 29 September 2018

Film Review: The Admiral, 2011

It's interesting to see a modern Japanese take on aspects of their history in WWII. Western renderings of this theatre of war range from the film's made during the war itself, usually propagandistic, via postwar epics like Midway, to more recent films, such as the HBO miniseries Pacific, the much criticised Pearl Harbour, or Clint Eastwood's attempt at a balanced view (Flags of our Father's and Letters From Iwo Jima), of varied quality and historical veracity/evenhandedness.

The real Yamamoto.

This depiction of Admiral Yamamoto casts him, and the leadership of the Japanese navy as a whole, as the doves amongst the otherwise mostly hawkish Japanese military. Western audiences might find this surprising, in the light of Pearl Harbour, famously described by Roosevelt as a 'day that will live in infamy'. But those who've read on the subject will know that there is indeed some truth in this. I can't recall from my own readings whether or not it's true, as depicted here, that the Japanese navy had been tricked into believing a declaration of war had been made prior to the attack.

I did enjoy this film, but it did seem rather hagiographic, casting Yamamoto as an ever-smiling and sagacious leader, a reluctant warrior, borne aloft on the waves of jingoistic militarism that sped Japan towards its ultimately cataclysmic fate. Still, it's fascinating to see the Japanese telling their own story. An impressive production overall, as well. But there were some less than brilliant CGI moments, a pet-hate of mine.

Not brilliant, but interesting, and worth seeing.

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