At the Christian Science Monitor, Takehiko Kambayashi surveys Kaoru Ikeya’s "Ari no Heitai (The Ants)," a documentary that follows former Japanese soldier Waichi Okumura on a trip to China. Okumura and other soldiers were ordered to continue fighting in China after the war’s end.
But Okumura’s commander, General Raishiro Sumita, came home even as his soldiers remained. A secret deal existed between Mr. Sumita and Nationalist Army Gen. Yan Xishan, according to testimony from survivors of both sides in the film.
General Yan asked Mr. Sumita to leave Japanese troops to help fight Mao. According to the film and studies of the subject, Yan promised to protect the Japanese military commander, who was a Class-A war criminal.
The film’s apparently been a success in very limited release in Japan, an interesting fact on this 61st anniversary of Japan’s defeat in World War II, as Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi angered many today by visiting the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japan’s 2.5 million war dead, including executed war criminals. China yesterday announced plans to make a film about 1937 Nanking massacre.
In the Independent, Tony Paterson writes that "Germany’s most celebrated living author, GÃ¼nter Grass faces growing public outrage and demands that he should hand back his Nobel Prize for Literature after his admission he once served in Adolf Hitler’s notorious Waffen SS force." Grass made his shocking announcement over the weekend; his best known work, novel "The Tin Drum," was made into a Palme d’Or- and Oscar-winning film. Over at the New York Times, Anthony Tommasini reports on a tiff that’s sprung up between the American Friends of the Salzburg Festival and the festival itself over Tony Palmer’s documentary "The Salzburg Festival: A Short History" (PDF) "because of what festival directors consider Mr. Palmerâ€™s overemphasized and sometimes inaccurate account of the festivalâ€™s intertwined relationship with the Nazis."
The film includes scenes of Hitler and German troops sweeping into Salzburg in 1938, as cheering throngs wave flags emblazoned with swastikas. There are rare film clips of German officers enjoying festival performances. Yet, as some critics have pointed out, Hitler personally attended the festival only once. His summer festival of choice was in Bayreuth, Germany, at Wagnerâ€™s opera house, which Hitler considered a sacred temple of German culture.
At US Military paper Stars and Stripes, Teri Weaver notes that Bong Joon-ho‘s Korean blockbuster "The Host" (which we’ve probably already reduced you to tears of boredom about) was inspired by an actual court case "that pitted the morgue director for the U.S. military in South Korea against the nationâ€™s courts and environmental groups."
In early 2005, Albert McFarland was sentenced to two years’ probation and a suspended jail sentence after being tried in absentia on charges that in 2000, he ordered two morgue workers to dump about 192 16-ounce bottles containing a formaldehyde mixture.
The filmâ€™s director, Bong Joon-bo, has said he relied on the McFarland case as a plot device but he declined to call â€œThe Hostâ€ a political satire, according to Yonhap. Bong declined an interview with Stars and Stripes through the movieâ€™s production company, Chungeorham Film.
But Americans figure prominently as the movieâ€™s plot develops and in the end, itâ€™s the Americans who drive home the movieâ€™s philosophical theme: All monsters and monstrous actions come from within…
Also last week, South Koreaâ€™s environmental minister cautioned that the filmâ€™s popularity may prompt more environmental protests against the U.S. military.
Murali Thalluri, 22, has repeatedly said his film, 2:37, which opens
in Sydney tomorrow, was inspired by his own suicide attempt and that of
a friend he refers to as Kelly.
But an anonymous email Thalluri says has been circulated to industry
associations and government film agencies alleges the Adelaide
writer-director invented parts of his life story, including Kelly’s
suicide and his own attempt to take his life when he was 19.
The contentious email also says Thalluri conned his way into the
movies after reading the novel Catch Me If You Can, which the director
Steven Spielberg turned into a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
"That book, I think, is wonderful," Thalluri said. "The line that
has stuck with me is ‘You can get away with anything if you do it with
confidence’ â€¦ "Just because I read Catch Me If You Can and was inspired
by it doesn’t put me on the FBI’s Most Wanted…"
Thalluri does admit he faked his way into teaching an acting class
by inventing qualifications. The class helped him find 2:37’s young
+ Film confronts Japan on wartime past (CS Monitor)
+ Top writer admits to Nazi past (The Australian)
+ Grass ‘should give up Nobel Prize over SS past’ (Independent)
+ The Nazis and the Salzburg Festival: A Disputed Film History (NY Times)
+ USFK morgue incident inspired S. Korean horror movie (Stars and Stripes)
+ Filmmaker defends suicide story (Sydney Morning Herald)