Synopsis by Mark Deming
In 1938, as Japan was at war with China, filmmaker Kamei Fumio was embedded with a group of Japanese infantrymen fighting in China. What Fumio and his camera crew saw shocked them -- a battalion of soldiers who were tired, ill-equipped, outnumbered and losing ground, while the enemy forces scarcely seemed to be in better shape. Fumio later said "I wanted to make a film to show the sorrow and the pain of the land, and the people and animals living there," and in some respects he succeeded all too well. The initial release of Tatakau Heitai (aka Fighting Men) was suppressed by the Japanese government, who believed the film was an insult to the Japanese military and branded it anti-war propaganda for its honest portrayal of exhausted man fighting other exhausted men for reasons that seem feeble to all concerned. In 1976, the film was finally made available to Japanese audiences and was hailed by critics as a lost masterwork of Japanese documentary filmmaking.
High Historical Importance