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*edited w/more articles, pg 1&2* Worlds Last Great Hand Animator and WW II Internalized Culture Shame....complex but I would love to discuss

Posted by on Nov. 16, 2013 at 9:27 PM
  • 18 Replies

"The director says he was inspired by something completely apolitical, a quote he read where Jiro said: All I wanted to do was make something beautiful."

First, I want to say that Miyazaki is one of my favorite film makers. My children have almost every movie he has produced on CDs. I love how his movies do not define "good vs evil" and how he creates strong female protagonists. The artwork is amazing!

As someone who teaches the history of art through cultural histories, I find this story of great interest. I know little about the art of Asia and the Far East, but do know very well how Germany has handled this same exact problem through the arts...I point to the artist Anselm Kiefer and the film The Reader as examples. Art can be a cathartic medium for a society to deal with these kinds of atrocities and move into the future.

What do you think?

Animated Film On The 'Kamikaze Plane' Hits A Nerve In Asia

5 min 19 sec



The latest film from celebrated Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, The Wind Rises, centers on the engineer who designed the plane used in the kamikaze attacks during World War II.

The latest film from celebrated Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, The Wind Rises, centers on the engineer who designed the plane used in the kamikaze attacks during World War II.

Studio Ghibli/Walt Disney

Oscar-winning Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki created beloved films such as Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away. But his latest film is drawing unusually sharp criticism.

The Wind Rises is no ordinary tale: It tells the story of Jiro Horikoshi, the Japanese engineer who designed the Mitsubishi Zero, the fighter plane (in)famously used in kamikaze attacks in World War II.

Commentators in have called the film "right wing" and said it "glorifies Japanese imperialism" and "depict[s] oneself as the victim and portray[s] the calamity of war, but fail[s] to point out the cause."

Criticism in has been no less vociferous: it's been called "anti-Japanese" and "dim-witted." One commenter asked, "Wouldn't it be good to ban the movie that this traitor created?"

These intense responses have their roots in the sensitive issue of World War II history — particularly in Asia, where memories of Japanese aggression and atrocities are still very much alive.

A warplane designer may seem like an unusual subject for Miyazaki. His last film, , told the story of a goldfish princess. But he's long been fascinated by aircraft and aviation — and in fact, his father worked at a company that provided the rudders for the Zero.

No Clear Heroes Or Villians

The Wind Rises is much like Miyazaki's previous works. His stories don't have clear heroes and villains; The Wind Rises is no different.

Miyazaki says he knew what he was getting himself into with the film.

"I knew a film about a warplane designer would raise questions among our staff and the rest of Japan. So I hesitated before making this film," Miyazaki tells NPR. "It has been a long time since the war ended in 1945, but Japan has not really come to terms with neighboring countries about that part of history."

World War II history has led to contentious relations among East Asian countries.

South Korean commenters point out the Zero was made with forced Korean labor. South Korean President Park Geun-hye without an apology for wartime "wrongdoing."

In China, the anniversary of the 1931 Japanese invasion, and an ongoing conflict over a group of islands, has .

And in Japan itself, there have been , and calls to change the country's "Peace Constitution," which was adopted after the war.

Miyazaki, who was born in 1941, says "outdated nationalism" in Japan reminds him of the time leading up to World War II — which led to his decision to make this film.

A Complicated Character

The director is adamantly pacifist, yet The Wind Rises revolves around a complicated paradox.

"The central character is a young man who dreams of creating the most efficient, the most beautiful plane," says filmmaker Linda Hoaglund, Miyazaki's former translator who has subtitled five of his films. "Because of the historical circumstance, he has no choice but to be complicit in a war that winds up proving disastrous for his country."

She points out American audiences are likely to see the film differently than those in Asia — an outgrowth of U.S. victory in the war.

Hoaglund grew up in Japan. In school there, she was taught that kamikaze pilots were heroic martyrs. Later, she realized many Americans considered them suicidal fanatics. That led her to about surviving kamikaze pilots, who she says face the same problem as the engineer who designed their planes.

"They were 18-, 19-year-olds desperate to live, but their country and their military had backed them into a situation where they had no choice but to accept the order," Hoaglund says. "This image of young people who are idealistic and want to serve their country, but are ultimately betrayed by their country in their choice for war, is something that you can also see in The Wind Rises."

When Miyazaki is asked if Horikoshi, the Zero engineer, is a tragic figure, he responds: "Everyone who lived during that doomed era was a tragic figure. All we individuals can do is live our lives as best we can."

National Woman's Party


by on Nov. 16, 2013 at 9:27 PM
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NWP
by guerrilla girl on Nov. 16, 2013 at 9:35 PM

'Jew in a Box' museum exhibit provokes questions in Berlin

Commentary: Bill Glucroft explains what it was like to go on display at Berlin's Jewish Museum.


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Berlin Jewish Museum Whole Truth 2013Enlarge
Bill Glucroft, an American Jew living in Berlin, chats with visitors from his box in the 'live exhibit' portion of the exhibition "The Whole Truth: Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Jews" at the Juedisches Museum (Jewish Museum) on April 4, 2013 in Berlin, Germany. The exhibition presents everyday aspects of Jewish life, poses simple questions answered with exhibits and challenges certain stereotypes. However its live exhibit, which features a Jewish person who sits in a plastic enclosure open on one side for several hours a day to answer visitors' questions, has sparked criticism from some Jewish groups. (Sean Gallup/AFP/Getty Images)
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BERLIN — "I'm in the exhibit."

A weird thing to say. Or maybe I just didn't say it right in German. Whichever, the frazzled young woman at the coat check thought I just didn't want to wait in the longest line I've ever seen at Berlin's Jewish Museum.

I felt bad cutting, but it was a good 40 minutes and I had 15. The back-and-forth continued, the confusion mounting until at last a native speaker intervened: "He means, he is the exhibit."

It was my turn to do what many of my Jewish friends here have already done: sit in an open-faced, plastic box ("throne" as another cheerfully called it) for two hours to field questions from curious museum-goers. The human installation comes at the end of a new, head-turning exhibit, "The Whole Truth: Everything you always wanted to know about Jews."

The concept is as simple as it is bold. In a country rich in Jewish history but lacking actual Jews, put it all on the table -- true and false, complementary and denigrating, the stereotypes, questions, preconceived notions and, maybe most of all, the 'nothing at all' that most pointedly reveals the Holocaust’s stubborn presence.

Adolf Eichmann was my first thought when I learned exactly how the Museum was to present the living history portion of the exhibit. Justin Timberlake — well known in the US for putting something else in a box on Saturday Night Live — was the next.

The concept hasn't gone down easy with everyone in the Jewish community (does anything?), and I was immediately sympathetic to the critics' cries. A person in a box? A Jew, like an animal in a zoo, to be observed and pointed at? Isn’t this what Hitler wanted in his Museum of an Extinct Race?

We Jews are already an odd bunch — a minority in number but not in presence, cut off from the mainstream while still influencing it, with a long history of unrelenting persecution leading to a recent history of uncalibrated power. Is such a presentation really the way to go?

I went in skeptical, ambivalent at best, motivated however by the chance to be part of the larger Jewish and Berlin communities. Two hours later, seeing the response and better understanding the context into which the box has been dropped, I became convinced: This is a necessary and overdue exhibit not to be outright dismissed.

When a pair of 20-something, English-speaking Jews asked the first question, they didn’t realize they were setting up to explain the exhibit's very intention. They just thought the questions printed on the walls were primitive and distasteful, and couldn’t understand why the museum would use them.

What they didn’t know was where they came from: not from the curator’s imagination but from guest comments. The exhibit simply recognizes what’s already out there and wants to confront it (and maybe have some fun, too).

Of course it’s simple, even superficial. Like Pesach’s child who does not know how to ask, this exhibit has been created for a society confronted ad nauseam by what it did to the Jews with very little regard to what Jews are doing today. For most Germans, the only Jew they know is a dead Jew.

The concept of a current, evolving, vibrant, diverse Jewish culture, in Germany and elsewhere, has been largely overshadowed by the necessary reminder of the Holocaust and the ongoing antics in the Middle East.

A Jew in a box may be a contrived way to force interaction between Jew and non-Jew, and Germany needs many such boxes. But as the text on the wall next to the box reads, many Jews, not only but especially in Germany, already feel like a curiosity. If the box reflects and represents the experiences of people, then the Museum is doing what museums exist to do.

In my two hours, the questions were mostly specific to me: Who are you? Why are you here? How did you come to participate in this? The simplest question was also the hardest to answer: What kind of Jew are you? I grew up conservative, kept (and to some extent still keep) kosher, had a bar mitzvah, can read and write but can’t speak Hebrew, try to go to synagogue a few times a month, and love having shabbat dinner with friends and celebrating most of the holidays.

But I don’t really believe in God, the Torah is just a nice story with a lot of savagery and counting and my girlfriend isn’t Jewish.

Does that make me religious? Far from it. Reform? No thanks. Observant? Perhaps. Traditional? Not sure what that is, exactly. A bagel connoisseur? Definitely. So, what kind of Jew am I? Good question.

It is this very complexity I realized the box adds to the exhibit’s otherwise simplicity, even self-aware irony. Each Jew who sits there is a little bit but not at all like every other Jew who sits there. Taken as a whole, we see Jews like any other group: difficult to homogenize, worthy of respect and not above criticism.

A visitor’s greatest takeaway? Maybe the Jews are on to something: the only good answer to a question is another question.

 

Bill Glucroft is a writer and provides communication services to companies around Berlin.
 

National Woman's Party


Bookwormy
by Platinum Member on Nov. 16, 2013 at 10:04 PM
It's hard to imagine WWII without villains & victims. I can imagine it without heroes. I do believe the Japanese perspective is very different than ours.
NWP
by guerrilla girl on Nov. 16, 2013 at 10:16 PM

I believe the Japanese perspective is very different than the West as well...And that this is the reason why an artist addressing this now is still controversial, several decades after Germany began to stop denying and face its own demons.

I do see that there were individual people in the conflict of WWII or any war who fall into a category that cannot be defined by villains and victims, but are people who exist within the context of their own terrible situation, making choices within that context...and that sometimes there is no good choice. It seems this is the story of one such individual. IDK without knowing more about the film...but I imagine that Miyazaki would have to take a gentle hand given his culture and even then, it seems he is the center of a controversy.

When it comes out, we will go see it. Unfortunately, we will probably have to wait until it is on CD or some downloadable media because I doubt it will come to a theatre near here....I was surprised when one of the local theatres actually carried The Secret World of Arrietty

Quoting Bookwormy:

It's hard to imagine WWII without villains & victims. I can imagine it without heroes. I do believe the Japanese perspective is very different than ours.


National Woman's Party


Looking4Truth
by on Nov. 16, 2013 at 10:26 PM

 Well, I learned something new that I wasn't aware of.  I had always thought that kamikaze pilots were volunteers, similar to the suicide bombers in Iraq, Iran, and elsewhere.  I had no idea that they were basically given no choice whether or not to become a kamikaze.  Wow!  I can understand though why the Japanese people might not see things in the same way we do here in the US, but heck, they started the whole thing when they bombed pearl harbor.  Anyway, history is my worst subject, obviously, so I was also surprised to hear that the Japanese invaded China!  Wow!  I think I should have paid a whole lot more attention during history classes.  This was an interesting post though, so thank you for posting it! 

Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Nov. 16, 2013 at 10:52 PM


Quoting NWP

First, I want to say that Miyazaki is one of my favorite film makers. 

A warplane designer may seem like an unusual subject for Miyazaki. His last film, , told the story of a goldfish princess.

I too love Miyazaki.  Nausicaä is one of my favourites books.

Do you remember Fio talking to the air pirates in Porco Rosso?



" I've grown up with stories about flying boat pilots since I was a
small child. Grandpa always told me the flying boat pilots are the
greatest bunch of guys there are. He said it's because the sea and
the sky purify their hearts. So flying boat pilots are much braver
than sailors and prouder than ordinary pilots.
"
NWP
by guerrilla girl on Nov. 16, 2013 at 11:22 PM
Yes. And Castle in the Sky. The gun plane was amazing. Nausicaa is also our favorite. I think Avatar ripped off Miyazakis visuals straight out of the toxic forest.

Quoting Clairwil:



Quoting NWP


First, I want to say that Miyazaki is one of my favorite film makers. 

A warplane designer may seem like an unusual subject for Miyazaki. His last film, ,
told the story of a goldfish princess.


I too love Miyazaki.  Nausicaä is one of my favourites books.

Do you remember Fio talking to the air pirates in Porco Rosso?



" I've grown up with stories about flying boat pilots since I was a
small child. Grandpa always told me the flying boat pilots are the
greatest bunch of guys there are. He said it's because the sea and
the sky purify their hearts. So flying boat pilots are much braver
than sailors and prouder than ordinary pilots.
"
heresjohnny
by Bronze Member on Nov. 16, 2013 at 11:57 PM
Years ago I was watching Band Of Brothers with my MIL, and it was at the part where we were jumping out of the planes. My MIL went on this rant about how awful it was for them to start shooting at helpless men in the air. I gave her a funny look and told her to put herself in their shoes. If your country were being invaded by people jumping out of planes, and you knew they were going to start shooting at you the second their boots hit the ground, wouldn't you try to shoot them first? She was so upset by my argument she had to leave the room. She refused to see our men as anything but heros/victims. She wouldn't talk to me for a week after that.


Quoting Bookwormy:It's hard to imagine WWII without villains & victims. I can imagine it without heroes. I do believe the Japanese perspective is very different than ours.
Mommabearbergh
by on Nov. 17, 2013 at 3:21 AM
Some people can't handle the realities of war

Quoting heresjohnny:

Years ago I was watching Band Of Brothers with my MIL, and it was at the part where we were jumping out of the planes. My MIL went on this rant about how awful it was for them to start shooting at helpless men in the air. I gave her a funny look and told her to put herself in their shoes. If your country were being invaded by people jumping out of planes, and you knew they were going to start shooting at you the second their boots hit the ground, wouldn't you try to shoot them first? She was so upset by my argument she had to leave the room. She refused to see our men as anything but heros/victims. She wouldn't talk to me for a week after that.





Quoting Bookwormy:It's hard to imagine WWII without villains & victims. I can imagine it without heroes. I do believe the Japanese perspective is very different than ours.

rfurlongg
by on Nov. 17, 2013 at 8:20 AM
Sounds like a very interesting movie. I will be looking for it to come out.
Art has a way of stirring emotion and poking a stick into un-healed wounds. At the very least he movie seems to be a catalyst for a long needed conversation.
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rfurlongg
by on Nov. 17, 2013 at 8:23 AM
Ponyo is one of my children's all time favorite movies. My 9 year old is a WWII history buff. He will be very excited to watch this movie.
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