BOOTLEG FILES 748: “The Battle of China” (1944 documentary in the “Why We Fight” series).
LAST SEEN: On YouTube.
AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: On public domain labels.
REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: It never had a copyright, so anyone can make a crummy dupe.
CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Condemned to public domain hell.
In 1942, the U.S. government commissioned Oscar-winning filmmaker Frank Capra to create a series of films that would explain the nation’s involvement and goals for World War II to both the American public and the servicemembers being sent into battle. The “Why We Fight” films became a seven-part series that primarily focused on the threats that Nazi Germany posed to the U.S. and to its British and Soviet allies.
Nick Romi is one of the most exciting new talents in today’s independent film scene. On this episode, we highlight his new feature documentary, “Danger Boys: Punks in Osaka,” and learn about the challenges of shooting this Japanese-based nonfiction music production.
The episode can be heard here.
“The Online Movie Show” is produced at the Platinum Wolfe Studios.
The directors of this documentary short—Lucy Craft, Karen Kasmauski and Kathryn Tolbert—are journalists whose fathers were U.S. service members stationed in post-World War II Japan and whose mothers were among the tens of thousands of so-called “Japanese war brides.”
The three Japanese women profiled here—Hiroko Furukawa, Emiko Fukumoto and Atsuko Onda—frankly acknowledge to their daughters that they did not marry strictly for romantic reasons, but because they were eager to leave the economic chaos of Japan in favor of the chance of a better life across the Pacific. However, their only knowledge of the American way of life came from movies and the mostly positive impressions of the Americans involved in the occupation period.
Although the U.S. military was initially opposed to these marriages—in many states, interracial marriage was illegal—it quickly realized that it was unable to prevent fraternizing between U.S. military men and Japanese women. The military switched gears and worked to educate the Japanese women on what they should expect in their American lives—albeit with lessons on baking cakes and wearing make-up.
But once they arrived in the U.S., the challenges faced by the women in their new country were significant. Their spouses’ families were not entirely pleased with their presence, while the wider society was not eager to embrace the mixed raced marriages. The women also faced numerous problems in assimilating into the behavioral patterns of their adopted homes, especially when it came to raising children—strict Japanese parental expectations were dramatically out of step with the more leisurely American approach to raising children, which created additional stress in their households.
At 26 minutes, the film barely scratches the surface on the lives of the directors’ mothers or the wider social upheaval created by the war brides. (The thoughts of the men that married them are not recorded in this film.) But, nonetheless, it offers an intriguing glimpse into a long-forgotten chapter of post-World War II history.