Cast & Crew
Lt. Frank Bracht
Col. Frank Capra
Col. Frank Capra
Pfc. George Emick
Using diagrams, cartoons and film footage, the film examines Japan's social structure and presents a geographical and historical basis for understanding Japan's and the United States' involvement in the war. A written prologue to the documentary acknowledges the honorable and loyal service of the Nisei (Japanese-Americans) during World War II. Scenes of Japanese ceremonies, industry, city and rural life, military training and combat are shown. The narration traces Japanese ideological history beginning with Emperor Jimmu, the first God-Emperor, whose divine command was "Let us extend our capital and cover the eight corners of the world under one roof." As Emperor Hirohito is a direct descendant of Jimmu, he is recognized as a God-Emperor and idealized as a ruler who governs all areas of life and is revered without question. Shinto is Japan's main religion and affects every aspect of life. For believers, the ghosts of the dead exist on earth to guide the living, and those who died in battle are considered warrior gods. A history of the Japanese warlords and their samurai, whose code of honor sanctioned treachery, doublecross and ambush, is presented. Japan's first unsuccessful attempt at world conquest was made in 1592. The growth of Christianity in Japan around the same time was eventually halted, and the country remained isolated for 200 years until in 1853, when the U.S. extended trade opportunities. Since then, Japan has modernized its technology, reorganized the political structure, and inducted the common man into prestigious military service. Government controlled compulsory education and "thought police," are used to manage the Japanese people. On 18 Sep 1931, Japan launched its campaign and gained control of Manchuria. Since then, it has conquered Manila, Hong Kong, Singapore, Nanking and Corregidor, has attacked Pearl Harbor and has tortured and mistreated its American and Filipino prisoners. By the close of the film, however, the U.S. is launching a successful counteroffensive and is concentrating the full power of its Air Force, Army and Navy to destroy Japan's ability to wage war.
The film was subtitled "Project 6017; Official Orientation Film #10." The title before the film reads: "This film has been compiled from authentic newsreel, official United Nations, and captured enemy film. Free use has been made of certain Japanese motion pictures with historical backgrounds. When necessary for purposes of clarity, a few reenactments have been made under War Dept. supervision." The film included footage of Mitsuru Toyama, head of the Black Dragon; Baron Tanaka; Lt. General Jonathan M. Wainwright; General Masaharu Homma; Col. Hideo Ohira; and Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson. According to government documents at NARS, in addition to the inclusion of newsreel and government footage, this film included footage from the following features: America, Mutiny on the Bounty, A Tale of Two Cities, Jamaica Inn, Penny Serenade and Behind the Rising Sun. The music score included Igor Stravinsky's "Firebird Suite," Claude Debussy's "Nocturne," Beethoven's 7th Symphony, Moussorgsky's "A Night on Bald Mountain" and "The Caissons Go Rolling Along."
While government documents indicate that the film was authorized on August 19, 1942 and that work started on the script on April 12, 1943, modern sources state that the initial script was completed by Warren Duff by June 1942 in Washington, D.C., but was shelved by the General Staff upon the film unit's move to Los Angeles. According to modern sources, when Capra received permission to proceed again the next year, he hired Joris Ivens to direct the film. Ivens then brought in Helen Van Dongen as editor and Carl Foreman as writer, and they examined all available films from Japan. Irving Wallace, a journalist in Japan before the war, also joined the group. Their script, which provided a blueprint for subsequent drafts, was rejected by the General Staff in 1943, and Ivens left the project; he claimed the script was shelved because he asserted that the Emperor should be treated as a war criminal. Work resumed under Leonard Spigelgass, and Foreman and Wallace continued to collaborate on scripts. However, in February 1944 work was suspended, and Van Dongen and Foremen left the project. In Apr, work again commenced with Edgar Peterson directing and Wallace writing, and a month later Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich collaborated on the script. In January 1945, John Huston replaced Peterson and wrote a new portion of the script with Wallace before departing. After receiving approval, Capra put together a final script, incorporating military suggestions, and the print was edited in May and June 1945. Modern soures disagree on the extent of Theodor S. Geisel's contribution to the script.
The film was approved by Assistant Secretary of War John McCloy, who ordered the addition of an opening title noting the gallantry of Japanese-American soldiers serving in Europe. The picture was seen in the military during August 1945, and exhibited for several weeks to servicemen, but with the surrender of Japan, ending the need for the contemplated American invasion, the picture was withdrawn by the end of the month. Modern sources add the following credits: Editing William Hornbeck; Narration John Beal, Anthony Veiller, Dana Andrews.