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The American Pastime


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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

American Pastime (DVD)

Amazon.com

American Pastime 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

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Gary Cole, Aaron Yoo, Judy Ongg, Leonardo Nam, Masotoshi Nakamura
  • Directors: Desmond Nakano
  • Writers: Desmond Nakano, Tony Kayden
  • Producers: Tom Gorai, Arata Matsushima, Barry Rosenbush, David Skinner, Terry Spazek
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: January 8, 2008
  • Run Time: 107 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000NTPG7A
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,547 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The American Pastime" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

The movie was well done and I also enjoyed the interviews with the actors, researchers and director of the film.
author
The end of the movie is SO good (I don't want to tell it to spoil it for someone who has not seen it) but I was out of my chair saying, "Yes!"
England's own.
"American Pastime" is a nice film about a period of America's history that most people would like to forget ever happened.
exknowswhy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on October 13, 2007
Format: DVD
I wonder if the U.S. government would have interred Japanese-Americans during World War II if Pearl Harbor had not happened, or even if the original plan of the Japanese had succeeded and they had formally declared war right before the attack. If there had not been a sneak attack and therefore no "day that will live in infamy," would that have changed what happened? Or was paranoia a necessary ingredient for the government to enact such a racist policy? "American Pastime" engenders such questions because virtually all of the film takes place in one of these interment camps. The title comes from the fact that the climax of the film is a baseball game between a team of Japanese-Americans from the camp and the local semi-pro team.

Lyle Nomura (Aaron Yoo) is so American he plays jazz saxophone. He also loves baseball and was going to go to college on a baseball scholarship when Pearl Harbor ended that dream. The Nomura family ends up in the Topaz Relocation Center near Abraham, Utah, and like the rest of the prisoners (they are called that in the film and not detainees) they try to make a new life in the camp. His brother Lane (Leonardo Nam) gets out of the camp by joining the Army and going off to fight in Europe for the country that has put his family in a camp. Their father, Kaz (Masatoshi Nakamura), loves baseball as much as he loves America and he sets up a league in the camp.

Top billing in the film goes to Gary Cole as Billy Burrell, a guard at Topaz who is hard hitting catcher for the local semi-pro baseball team (I understand Cole is the "big name" in the cast, but he should have gone with an "and" credit at the end).
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By L. Staudimeir on May 23, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Great small budget movie. This movie proves that independent film making is an American Treasure. Accessible story for all ages. Great History lesson with Baseball, family values and a love story. What more could you ask for...do not miss this one!!!!!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Curious Sansei on June 29, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Growing up, my father rarely talked of his internment camp experiences in Poston, AZ, so we knew very little. After taking him to see the showing of American Pastime, I was moved by how much he opened up and began sharing some of his feelings and memories. The movie is realistic, showing the barracks and living conditions of the internees, the family frustrations and their "shikata ga nai" attitude of making the best of a bad situation.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By K. Hashizume on December 23, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a film that made me stop and think. It made me question if this is what it was truly like for my father and his family. It made me wonder what was unspoken in who he is today. At the same time it spoke about the triumph of the human spirit.

I have shared the movie with others at my office who have shared it with their children. All of whom have enjoyed it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By V. Knickerbocker on July 26, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This video is one that would have a great appeal to a high school audience as it features a love story between two teens from opposite sides of the relocation camp walls that harsely interned Japanese Americans during World War II. It also dramatizes how the sport of baseball was a "saving grace" for Japanese internees and others who viewed them as "enemies of the state" to be isolated, scorned and feared. Although its conclusion is very predictable, it offers some important lessons for teens and adults that promote intercultural understanding and healing.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. Hall on October 17, 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a great movie. However, as one reviewer noted, there is some language that is inappropriate for younger audiences. I wanted to show it to my middle school literature class (after we read an autobiographical novel about Topaz), but found that it was too difficult to get around the language. If there had only been one or two things, I could have gotten away with it. But there was quite a bit. Here's what it had and where it is:
"son of a bitch" (about 15 min.)
"bullshit" (about 18 min.)
"I don't give a damn who wins or loses." (20 min)
"I've become a God damn babysitter." (33 min.)
"Please go eat a big pile of shit." (34 min.) This was actually spoken in Japanese and subtitled in English.
"bullshit" (37 min.)
"Who the hell does he think he is - thinking he cold play baseball" (38 min.)
"Sit your ass down." (1:02 min.)
"I sure as hell ain't doing no haircut." (1:36 min.)

It's a shame, because it's a wonderful movie and there's nothing else out there like it. Again, if there were only one or two instances of this language in the movie (or if "bullshit" were the strongest thing), it would not be that much of a problem. But this occurs so frequently that it just didn't work with a class of 6th through 8th graders.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Chelgie on June 11, 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
As a Utah History teacher, this film really is well done. The kids really get into the story and really care about the Japanese people. Only problem is some language. Wish it was cleaned up a little. I do like the historical photographs used and the ability to show parts to students and then have a discussion.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By B. Berthold on July 13, 2011
Format: DVD
`American Pastime` revives a sorrowful chapter in American history: the ignoble internment of Japanese-Americans during the Second World War. After Pearl Harbor, Japanese-Americans were wrongly vilified as potential traitors, stripped of their civil rights and hoarded into concentration camps throughout the western United States. Such a shameful episode in our past finally receives worthy treatment in Desmond Nakano`s well-crafted film. Rather than show the indignities faced by Japanese-Americans in a documentary form, `American Pastime` concentrates instead on the dynamics of an average family caught up in the post-Pearl Harbor paranoia that gave rise to such camps.

The film follows the misfortunes of the Nomura family, a solidly middle class family from East Los Angeles. One minute, the family is celebrating with neighbors, the next, they are having to abandon their homes, soon to be shuttled off to eastern Utah. The couple`s two sons are as American as can be, listening to Big Band jazz and playing baseball.

The film does a remarkable and subtle job of portraying the hardships faced by the Nisei in their new `homes,` the `assignment process,` the guard towers with machine guns, the barbed wire, the constant invasion of privacy and the draconian measures dealt those who resisted in any way. Yet, Japanese-Americans neither complained nor protested the awful machinations and deprivations mandated by their government.

The father, Kaz (well-played by Japanese actor, Masatoshi Nakamura), is the prime exemplar of such an attitude. He neither questions the legitimacy of why he is where he is nor protests against it. Instead, he stoically accepts the situation and determines to make the best of it.
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