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Red White Black & Blue


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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

As seen on the Emmy-award winning PBS series Independent Lens

On June 7, 1942 Japan Invaded Alaska.

It is the only invasion of American soil in nearly 200 years.

4,000 People died.

Now, 60 years later, one man has come to take it back.

Bill Jones and Andy Petrus are the two toughest 85-year-olds you've ever met.

Together, these life-long friends fought 3,000 Japanese in a secret Alaskan invasion during World War II. Now, 60 years later, these two forgotten heroes embark on an intense and emotional journey back to the remote Aleutian island of Attu, where they relive the brutal 19-day battle that the American government kept secret.

As Bill and Andy retrace their steps over this desolate, untouched battlefield - a living museum littered with crashed airplanes, collapsing buildings, and unexploded bombs - the line between past and present begins to blur and long-forgotten memories resurface with moving force.

Red White Black & Blue isn't just one soldier's story - it is the story of every solider who faces an enemy he does not understand and returns home with scars that are slow to heal.

Walk through one of the bloodiest battles of World War II with the soldiers who lived it. Through their eyes you'll experience the complicated, and sometimes contradictory, mindset of a nation at war and what it really means to be an American hero.

Red White Black & Blue is the first feature-length documentary to tell the story of the Battle of Attu, one of the bloodiest battles of World War II and the only invasion of the United States since the War of 1812.

DVD includes the award-winning feature-length film plus over 35 minutes of extras including:

The theatrical trailer for the film

Deleted scenes

Unedited combat footage from the battle of Attu

Period newsreels

The 1945 animated short Private Snafu in the Aleutians directed by Chuck Jones and written by Theodor Dr. Seuss Geisel

Additional footage of the island today

And much more

Review

In June 1942, American soil was invaded for the first time since 1812; 11 months later the U.S. sent ill-equipped troops to the Aleutian island of Attu to recapture it from the Japanese. With unerring visual acumen, Red White Black & Blue rescues the battle from oblivion while asking how 4,000 dead soldiers became an obscure footnote in history. Keeping the focus on two veterans of the battle, helmer Tom Putnam reveals the psychological scars of warfare with a respect that doesn't preclude deeper questions about morality...

Attu is considerably closer to Russian than mainland Alaska, making it an obvious choice for a Japanese invasion during World War II. When Hirohito's forces landed, the U.S. government kept the info under wraps for fear the news would demoralize the country.

Convinced the army would take back the island quickly, the Pentagon didn't bother to equip the men with necessary gear: gloves, rubber boots, winter coats or decent maps. Frostbite and trench foot soon decimated the infantry, and the battle, according to vet Andy Petrus, was worse than Okinawa; the number of U.S. casualties (as opposed to fatalities) was only rivaled by Iwo Jima.

Putnam doesn't address the question of why the battle has been forgotten (though the decreasing emphasis on teaching history surely deserves part of the blame). What he and his team are more interested in is the rocky psychological territory left behind when soldiers are placed in a kill or be killed situation. They found an ideal man to focus on in veteran Bill Jones.

Jones, a farm boy from southern New Jersey, wound up as squad leader during the 19-day fight. Putnam interviews Jones on multiple occasions, on and off Attu: He comes off as intelligent, fiercely patriotic, jingoisitc in the way of his generation (the Japanese are still Japs), and still struggling with the memories that will not die. When you use a flamethrower on somebody and they're on fire and they scream... he recalls before tears prevent him from continuing.

One of Putnam's strengths is his ability to capture the conflicting forces that still tear Jones apart: unswerving loyalty to his country, unquestioning obedience to the army, and yet a deep humanity.

Impeccably researched and supplemented with excellent historical footage, the documentary is the perfect riposte to the current fad for reconstructions, proving that such jarring gimmicks are unnecessary when subjects are tackled with creativity and sensitivity.

Terrific editing by Jeff Malmberg (also a producer) juxtaposes interviews in a way that subtly reveals the conflicting nature of Jones' attitudes without undermining the veteran's integrity.

Thanks to the island's unchanged landscape and harrowing photographs of the battle's aftermath, Putnam and his team seamlessly duplicate shots, displaying B&W images of mangled bodies in the barren tundra that fade into the exact locations today.

(Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival Critics' Week, August 4, 2006 --Jay Weissberg, Variety

A wrenching look at a forgotten battle. --Ethan Gilsdorf, The Boston Globe

A warning to human stupidity and to those who think that war can change the world. --La Regione


Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Bill Jones, Andy Petrus
  • Directors: Tom Putnam
  • Format: Anamorphic, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: Three-Headed Monster
  • DVD Release Date: November 10, 2007
  • Run Time: 86 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000X0GNYE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #292,885 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Red White Black & Blue" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
5 star
64%
4 star
24%
3 star
12%
2 star
0%
1 star
0%
See all 25 customer reviews
The subject alone is fascinating, but I was especially impressed with the style of the documentary.
C. Shellen
We see the past through the eyes to two very different men who lived it and we are taken on an unpredictable journey with them.
James K. Lambert
You'll be saying, Yes, I do like this kind of thing and I'm going to spend my money on it to prove it!
Viking

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Red, White, Black, and Blue is a great documentary. I saw this film at a film festival in Boston and was really blown away. The true horific tale of what went on on the Island of Attu with our soldiers against Japan is important to know and learn from. The film is historically important as well as heart felt. We watch a man from that battle go back in today's time to visit the battle ground. Really touching. War sucks. I wish all documentaries were this interesting!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By C. Shellen on February 9, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I caught Red White Black and Blue on PBS a few weeks ago and was hoping it would come back on so a WWII-buff friend of mine could see it. It's a totally unique take on a part of the war that I'm embarrassed to say I knew nothing about. I can't believe they teach students about Pearl Harbor but neglect to mention that a WWII battle was actually fought on American soil.

The subject alone is fascinating, but I was especially impressed with the style of the documentary. Some documentaries are too nostalgic or dry & dates-driven... this one really lets you experience what happened through the memories of two of the men who fought on Attu. My grandfather fought in WWII, so I really appreciated how open the two veterans were. They don't hold anything back, and it makes for a much more realistic and haunting portrait of combat and post-combat trauma than I've ever seen.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By James K. Lambert on February 15, 2008
Format: DVD
I know a good deal about the Second World War but I was unaware of Attu until I saw this film. I always enjoy learning new things but what made this documentary special is the fact that it is a personal story. We see the past through the eyes to two very different men who lived it and we are taken on an unpredictable journey with them.

If you are interested in WW II or you just want to see a good doc, check this film out.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Chase Rudolph on February 19, 2008
Format: DVD
I just graduated from college last May. I got a minor in history, because it has always interested me. The funny thing is, I had never read, heard, or was taught anything about this invasion. It was like it never happened.

My mother for Christmas heard of Red, White, Black, and Blue and bought the DVD for me. Finally, yesterday on President's Day I watched the doc. It was so good and for a history doc dealing with war, it wasn't boring, it wasn't slow, and the filming wasn't bad. I was very impressed, because usually you get low quality film making on docs like these.

The film makers on this doc did a great job and made a piece of history come to life. I don't care what age or sex you are, you will cry several times during this film. In the end you will be glad you watched and learned something new about your country and what others did for your life.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Viking on February 18, 2008
Format: DVD
Just when you thought nothing more could be said on this subject, Putnam and Redecki produce this startlingly lucid "bio-doc" on what it means to be an American and the price that comes with being free. Shot on real video with the actual people that were there, this film takes you were most people will never go: the island were this movie takes place. If you like docs about real people and things that are important then this is for you. Support these guys by buying this movie. You'll be saying, Yes, I do like this kind of thing and I'm going to spend my money on it to prove it! What have you got to lose?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jason Peterson on February 7, 2008
Format: DVD
The team behind this have a great track record of working on independent content, and Red White Black & Blue is not exception. It's worth your entertainment & educational dollar.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Phil Shibano on February 11, 2008
Format: DVD
As an amateur Aleutian Islands historian, for years I've wondered why no one has made a good film about this important and dramatic battle, and I was thrilled to see that this film does just that. This film is a great companion to Brian Garfield's seminal book about the War in the Aleutians, The Thousand-Mile War. Click here to read about that book: Thousand-Mile War: World War II in Alaska and the Aleutians (Classic Reprint Series (Fairbanks, Alaska), No. 4.)

It's not quite what I expected, as in addition to telling the story of the battle (which it does quite well) it also has numerous interviews with a veteran named Bill who survived the battle and has had nightmares about it for the past 60 years. I think that this movie is also one of the best looks I've seen at the tremendous toll that combat takes on the young men who survive it. The DVD also has quite a bit of "bonus material" with more scenes from the film, a slideshow of the island, and some interesting newsreels about the battle from 1943.

I also enjoyed the music in the film and see the soundtrack is for sale here: Red White Black & Blue Motion Picture Soundtrack

Thanks,
Phil
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Suburban Recycler on August 8, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I was really looking forward to this video, since my dad fought in the Battle of Attu.
He never spoke about it, so like most Americans, I was clueless about what went on.
The video was really interesting, but could have been a lot better with some tighter editing.
They took 86 minutes to give about 45 min. worth of info.
It would have been lots better if they interviewed several more people, not just two former soldiers.
Nonetheless, there aren't many videos about Attu, so I would recommend it.
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