Friday, July 8, 2016

The Emperor in August

Eiga Sai 2016
Japanese Film Festival
Cinema 2, Shang Cineplex

August 1945 was a very important month in Japan's war history. After the leaders of the Allied nations met in Potsdam to negotiate for the end of the second World War, they issued a declaration. This statement known as the Potsdam Declaration basically sealed the deal for Japan. They were given an ultimatum to unconditionally surrender and withdraw their troops from nations which they occupied during the entirety of WWII.  

This film shows the perspective from Japan's side as the authorities from the Emperor himself to the members of his Cabinet weigh in on their proper response to the Potsdam Declaration.

Shown through short yet comprehensive scenes of various scenarios from the Cabinet meetings, to the audience with the Emperor as well as the growing coup brewing among the young officers (who wanted to fight till the very end and not surrender at all), this film offers a good behind.the.scenes narration of that important time in history.

All those endless footage of the numerous Cabinet meetings were necessary to portray the dilemma which Japan found itself in after the issuance of the Potsdam Declaration yet I figure a closer view of the impending coup d'etat being orchestrated by the young commissioned officers would have given the film a good balance to sustain the momentum. 

Even though the title mentions the Emperor, I believe this film did not do enough to delve into a deeper introspection of his character. He is portrayed as being compassionate and pensive about the future of his citizens after the war. How Japan would rebuild its nation after the devastation. These are all valid sentiments, naturally. 

Yet this is in stark contrast to the numerous atrocities which the Japanese army committed during the war which was waged in the Emperor's name.  I understand that the Japanese basically worship him and regard him as "God" so perhaps the writers didn't want to tarnish his 'image'?

An interesting piece of narration but there were some missing elements which could have given the film a solid edge in its portrayal of a definitive event in a nation's war history.

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