Gladiators of World War II: The Kamikazes
Written and directed by Charles Messenger
Nugus/Martin Productions, 2001, 48 min., DVD
Historical inaccuracies make Gladiators of World War II: The
Kamikazes of limited value in learning about Japan's suicide attacks. Three
American and six Japanese veterans of World War II provide colorful commentary,
but the narrator fails to even introduce their names or their connection to the
attacks. Other detractions in this documentary include repeated or misidentified
film clips, staged footage of kamikaze pilots, and mispronunciation of the name
of the vice admiral who formed the first kamikaze corps .
The documentary contains numerous incorrect statements. For example, the
narrator states that kamikazes struck the carrier Franklin in March 1945 ,
but the ship actually was hit by two bombs. The documentary erroneously
indicates that the Japanese used Iwo Jima to mount kamikaze air attacks . The
date of Japan's first mass kamikaze raid on Allied ships off Okinawa is given as
April 4 rather than the correct date of April 6 . Near the end of the DVD,
the screen shows the Kaseda Peace Museum (now known as Bansei Tokko Peace
Museum) as the narrator mentions that in Japan
today there is a kamikaze museum . However, the narrator makes no mention of
the Chiran Peace Museum for Kamikaze Pilots, the largest kamikaze-related
museum, and several other museums with exhibits related to kamikaze pilots.
Background information is provided on the reasons for Japan's decision to use
suicide attacks, but some of this material has little direct connection. More
than a third of the film deals with events not directly related to suicide
attacks. After completion of the presentation of kamikaze attacks at Okinawa,
which occurs about
ten minutes before the film's end, the remainder of the documentary proceeds
This DVD, full of factual errors, has no special features to set it apart
from other documentaries on kamikazes.
1. The narrator's pronunciation of "Takijino
Onishi" (at 13:10 of DVD) should be "Takijiro Onishi." The back
cover of the DVD package also gives the incorrect spelling of "Takijino."
2. At 28:40 of DVD.
3. At 22:00 of DVD.
4. At 30:25 of DVD, the narrator states that the
Japanese launched the first mass kamikaze raid three days after the landings at
Okinawa, which occurred on April 1. Therefore, according to the DVD, the date of
the first mass kamikaze attack would be April 4.
5. At 46:00 of DVD.