Watch Know Your Enemy: Japan
- 1 hr 3 min
Know Your Enemy: Japan is an American documentary film from 1945, directed by Frank Capra and Joris Ivens, that aims to educate the American public about the history, politics, culture, and psychology of Japan in order to prepare them for the post-World War II occupation of the country. The film features a blend of archival footage, animation, narration, interviews, and dramatizations, and is divided into seven chapters, each focusing on a different aspect of Japan.
The first chapter, "The Bamboo Empire," introduces Japan as a land of contrasts, where ancient traditions coexist with modern technology, and where the Emperor is revered as a divine figurehead and the military holds great power. The second chapter, "The Seething Cauldron," traces the roots of Japanese militarism to the Meiji Restoration of 1868, which transformed Japan from a feudal society into a capitalist and imperialist power, and the ideology of Bushido, or the Way of the Warrior, which glorified death in battle as the ultimate honor. The third chapter, "The Pacifist Emperor," contrasts the peaceful ideals of Emperor Hirohito with the aggressive policies of his government and military, and shows how his position as a symbol of national unity was exploited for propaganda purposes.
The fourth chapter, "The Two-Headed Monster," describes the political system of Japan, which was dominated by the military and the bureaucracy, and the lack of democratic institutions and individual freedoms. The fifth chapter, "The Economic Juggernaut," highlights the economic strength and potential of Japan, which was driven by a disciplined and efficient workforce and a focus on export-oriented industries. The sixth chapter, "The Psychology of the Japanese," explores the cultural and psychological traits of Japan that shaped its worldview and behavior, such as group-orientedness, conformity, loyalty, shame, and revenge. The final chapter, "The Way Ahead," looks ahead to the reconstruction and democratization of Japan after its surrender and the role that the United States would play in that process.
Throughout the film, the voiceover narration by John Beal and Walter Huston provide context and analysis, while the dramatizations featuring Howard Duff and other actors illustrate key points and add emotional impact. The film also features interviews with Japanese prisoners of war and civilians, who offer their perspectives on the war, the Japanese government and military, and the future of Japan. The archival footage includes scenes of Japanese military parades, propaganda films, and battle footage, as well as scenes of everyday life in Japan, such as farming, fishing, and tea ceremonies.
Overall, Know Your Enemy: Japan is a well-crafted and informative documentary that sheds light on a complex and multifaceted subject. It presents a nuanced and balanced view of Japan that acknowledges its strengths and weaknesses, its achievements and atrocities, and its potential for change and improvement. The film also serves as a reminder of the importance of understanding and empathy in international relations, and the dangers of stereotypes and prejudice.