THE EMPEROR’S NAKED ARMY MARCHES ON
Dir. Kazuo Hara, 1988
Japan, 122 min.
In Japanese with English subtitles
TUESDAY, JANUARY 7 – 7:30 PM
SUNDAY, JANUARY 12 – 7:30 PM
MONDAY, JANUARY 27 – 7:30 PM
[TRIGGER WARNING: Wartime violence and atrocities]
The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On is a more plainly political, but no less revealing, portrait of Japan since World War II. Kenzo Ozukaki was tireless in his campaign against the commonly held idea in Japan that Emperor Hirohito was not responsible for war atrocities during World War II, even getting arrested in the process. Ozukaki ambushes former soldiers into giving him the answers that he is obsessed with finding. His obsession is unsettling; even people who agree with him politically seem unwilling after a certain point to stand in solidarity with Ozukaki, as his methods get more outrageous, and eventually violent.
The film became surprisingly popular in Japan, earning Hara the New Director Prize from the Directors Guild of Japan (and only 16 years after his first film Goodbye CP!) and drawing relatively large crowds for such controversial and alienating subject matter. Errol Morris has put The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On in his top 5 films of all time, high praise from a master of the documentary film (Michael Moore likes it too, if that’s more your speed). Through the entire movie, Hara remains a silent witness to Ozukaki’s increasing fanatacism and devotion to the only version of the truth he can possibly accept; but when is silence irresponsible? When are those in charge responsible for things they let happen? When is inaction morally indefensible?