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Father of the Kamikaze (1974)

Kinya Kitaoji , Bunta Sugawara , Kosaku Yamashita  |  Unrated |  DVD
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Kinya Kitaoji, Bunta Sugawara, Koji Tsuruta, Tsunehiko Watase, Akira Kobayashi
  • Directors: Kosaku Yamashita
  • Format: Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Animeigo
  • DVD Release Date: January 13, 2009
  • Run Time: 199 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001HM2CEW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #162,458 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Vice Admiral Takajiro Ohnishi could see that Japan's defeat in WWII was inevitable. He came to realize that the only way to force a negotiated solution was to convince the Americans that invading Japan would cause massive casualties on both sides. The cold logic of suicide attacks, where one man and one plane could kill hundreds, seemed the only solution. In one of the cruel ironies of fate, Ohnishi actually succeeded; he convinced the Americans that invading Japan would be too costly in lives. But what he could not foresee was that America had another way of ending the war.

Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Divine wind February 26, 2009
I couldn't help but compare "Father of the Kamikaze" with the 2007 film "I Go to Die for You" ("Ore wa, kimi no tame ni koso, shi ni iku"). What a difference distance makes. In the 2007 film, the kamikaze pilots are allowed to be figures of romance, of heroism, and all sorts of movie tropes. In 1974's "Father of the Kamikaze", there is only harsh reality.

I have seen few films that attempt to capture historical reality on the same level as "Father of the Kamikaze". Not only in the accuracy of the story, but in the use of actual war footage whenever possible. Those are not special effects that you are seeing. Those are actual human-piloted airplanes smashing into actual human-staffed warships. The loss of life depicted in this film is staggering.

At the base level, "Father of the Kamikaze" tells the story of Onishi Takijiro, a Vice Admiral of the Japanese navy. No war-monger, Onishi actually opposed the attack on Pearl Harbor, foreseeing that it would launch Japan into a full-scale war with the US, a war they could never win. He also was opposed to the use of suicide attacks in warfare, until he was backed into a corner. In charge of the defense of the Philippines during Operation Sho, he had no choice but to order the attacks, which were highly successful and the beginning of Japan's "Special Attack Units". The film then follows the consequences of Onishi's actions, with vignettes of the lives of kamikaze pilots, to the behind-the-scenes high level debates about their deployment. Onishi, who was against the war to begin with, becomes adamant that Japan must not lose, and tries to play psychological games with the US, throwing wave-after-wave of suicide attackers, in the hopes that the US will be horrified enough to at least call the war a draw.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Historical Drama but too long. July 5, 2010
This is a very long movie that tells a fairly simple story that could have used some better editing. Three hours and 19 minutes is a lot and the length could easily have been cut by a third. The characters were generally well-acted, in some cases a bit over-acted, and the story is interesting to World War II history buffs. The special effects were not up to today's standards (air combat scenes clearly done with models) and there were a few mistakes (like sandbags obviously stuffed with straw), but otherwise the sets were realistic and believable.

A point that is well-illustrated in this movie is the fanaticism of Japanese militarists. Reality doesn't seem to mean much to these guys, and they seem to be imbued with a kind of mad-dog, hyper-nationalistic fatalism. Everything was a matter of honor. Not all Japanese officers were like this, but enough that the war kept going much longer than it should have. The individual kamikaze pilots seemed over-enthusiastic, like they could hardly wait to die for their country. This would have been entirely out of character for American pilots, although I'm sure there would have been a few individual exceptions.

The decision to go kamikaze was an agonizing one for some of the Japanese leadership and the movie shows it, but it was becoming obvious that it was their last hope to convince the Americans that continuing the war would be too costly, especially if they attempted an invasion of the home islands. Had the kamikaze attacks continued, however, it's possible that the Americans would have settled for a negotiated peace. Although it's not discussed in this film, the kamikazes were very effective and their design and lethality gradually improved. Had they been used earlier, it could have changed the outcome of several battles. Late in the war the Americans became better at shooting them down.

If you collect material in this area it's worth having. For entertainment value, it's not that interesting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Historical drama based on creation of Kamikaze. June 18, 2010
By N. Hyre
Verified Purchase
This movie is a well written reinacted chronology of the development of the Japanese Kamikaze deployment. Although it is somewhat aged, the flying scences and drama are realistic. For WWII buffs, this should be on the "need to have" list.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good and Not So Good July 2, 2014
First the good stuff. The majority of the film is sensible and rather tranquil, refreshing for a westerner, used to Kabuki-style melodrama in Japanese films. It follows historical events with decent accuracy. I say events, because I seriously doubt anyone has record of all of the complicated personal interactions and dialogue used in the film. License must certainly have been used, out of necessity if for no other reason. It is a quality production, with good production values.

The strange and / or not so good. Father of the Kamikaze has a rather strident militaristic and nationalistic flavor throughout, strange for post-war Japan, and very strange for 1974. The military figures are universally virtuous, upright fellows. While the movie obliquely acknowledges the folly of going to war against Britain and the United States, it nonetheless finds sacrifice for Emperor and country noble. Nationalism and patriotism are obviously highly esteemed by the production company.

All of the suicide pilots cheerfully and enthusiastically board their mounts for self-immolation. While some certainly did so, the historical record paints a much more nuanced and diverse picture.

Admiral Onishi is presented as a noble and tragic figure, which I think is accurate. I read "Divine Wind," some 45 years ago. In it Rikihei Inoguchi and Tadashi Nakajima explain the rationale for finally approving the special attack squadrons. By 1944 almost every Japanese pilot who sortied died, period. In almost every case he died for nothing, shooting down no enemy planes if a fighter pilot; hitting no ships if a bomber or torpedo plane pilot. Onishi basically said, "My men are dying regardless, so let's take some of the blighters with us.
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