American Pastime (DVD)
Barry Rosenbush, the Emmy-winning producer behind the High School Musical phenomenon, delves once again deep into the heart of America with this heartfelt family drama set against the true story of a community in crisis in a World War II Japanese-American internment camp. Their loyalties questioned, their freedom suspended and their lives interrupted, numerous American families of Japanese descent were forced to live in internment camps. Unshakeable in their patriotism, they turned to the most American of sports -- baseball -- as an escape from their hardship.
views a dark slice of American history--the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II--affectingly through the prism of the all-American game of baseball. The film shines the light of hope through some of the bleakest moments in the lives of the relocated families, as baseball becomes a way to cope with the unmanageable. The stars, especially Masatoshi Nakamura, Judy Ongg, and Leonardo Nam, give hushed, affecting performances, allowing the story almost to unfold around them. Gary Cole (The West Wing
) plays a minor-league player and guard at the internment camp Topaz, and pursues his own hopes of a major-league career against the near-nightmarish backdrop. Baseball has often been used as a metaphor in American film, but almost never as affectingly as in American Pastime
. The DVD's making-of featurette, "Go for Broke: Behind American Pastime
," is in some ways even more moving than the film, since it features interviews with real survivors of the internment camps, including Topaz and Manzanar. Also interviewed are several Japanese American soldiers from the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, who courageously fought for America in World War II even as their family members and friends were detained in the camps. Cole says in the featurette, "America really wanted to sweep [the internment camps] under the rug"--but thanks to the film and the documentary, the real history can be illuminated. --A.T. Hurley