Army Screen 4 articles

Army

1944

Army Poster
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    Sight & Sound: Alexander Jacoby
    July 03, 2015 | August 2015 Issue (p. 98)

    Ikeda Tadao's didactic script is filled with injunctions to duty; the mere possibility that Japan might lose a war is shouted down. But Kinoshita's style expresses a dissident view. The climax, in which a mother, brilliantly played by Tanaka Kinuyo, follows her enlisted son through the streets as he marches off to war, rejects heroics to record her love and anxiety. Kinoshita cleverly circumvented pre-production censorship.

  • Today, Army looks like the clear triumph of Kinoshita’s wartime cinematic output. In terms of technical audacity, narrative elegance, and character depth, it represented a major leap forward for the young director. However, the film wasn’t well received in 1944; the complex emotional tenor of its final act—which anticipates the ways Kinoshita would engage with WWII in his later work, when he was no longer beholden to wartime censorship codes—all but ensured the outrage of the authorities.

  • Kinoshita's most direct engagement with the consequences and contradictions of war. The director's most ambitious early film, Army expands on the brief historical acknowledgements of The Living Magoroku, dedicating not just a scene, but its entire first act to a series of vignettes depicting various instances of previous wartime struggles in Japan.

  • What’s most remarkable about the neutrally titled Army (apart from its masterfully bustling mise en scène) is precisely how this wrenching, protracted, and unmistakably pacifist final sequence subverts everything preceding it even more than the ending of Ford’s Fort Apache does or did, and with far more radical consequences (Kinoshita was accused of treason by an army general after the film’s premiere).

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