Despite the strong pressure to make pro-military propaganda during the war, the authorities took one look at Kinoshita’s Army and knew exactly where his sentiments lay. The film looks at a family that for generations has produced military officers, but the values of tradition seem to serve no one well in contemporary Japan. With the outbreak of the war, attention falls on a representative of the youngest generation, a young man long plagued by ill health but who through great efforts grows strong enough to follow in his family’s footsteps. In a stunning final scene, the boy’s mother, the great Kinuyo Tanaka, sees him off to war, and the play of emotions across her face tell you all you need to know about Kinoshita’s attitude towards Japanese militarism. When it was announced that Kinoshita’s next film would be about the kamikazes, the authorities suggested perhaps another director would be more appropriate.
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