Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on January 2012There have been a rash of Japanese films purporting a revisionist history of WWII over the last decade or so, not the least of which was Pride, which tried to lionize war-time prime minister Hideki Tojo. Thankfully, the present project doesn’t fall into that trap despite the fact there was a 1968 flick of the same name (which starred the legendary Toshiro Mifune) that was a piece of propaganda. The 2011 version of Admiral Isoroku, starring this generation’s Mifune, Koji Yakusho, is again extremely sympathetic to the lead character but damning of the Japanese political establishment and its drive towards war in the 1930s. Starting in 1939, the movie depicts Yamamoto’s opposition to military conflict with the US and his acceptance of it as inevitable. Though he planned and executed the Pearl Harbor attack, the movie, due to the excellent Yakusho, portrays a brilliant strategist who was under no illusions about the strength of the US. While perhaps falling prey to a bit of hero worship, it mostly avoids the melodrama and schmaltz that infects so many Japanese film projects these days. This well-paced and well-acted work is not a bad watch for those interested in a Japanese view of the war. (English title: Admiral Isoroku; 140 min)
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