Produced and written by Perry Wolff
Video Yesteryear, 1961, 85 min., Video
This documentary's title, Kamikaze, is a misnomer.
The 1961 film, still sold in several WWII documentary collections, covers the war between Japan and the U.S. from 1941 to 1945, with the
first 20 minutes devoted to the story of the Pearl Harbor attack. Film clips
showing kamikaze pilots and attacks make up only a little more than 10 minutes
of this 85-minute video.
The film's narrative provides few historical details on
Japan's kamikaze operations and the rest of the war in the Pacific. The
narrator rarely mentions specific dates or months, so viewers will have a
difficult time following the timing of events. For example, right after a
segment on the Tokyo fire bombing of March 1945, the film switches to show a farewell
ceremony in October 1944 in the Philippines for the first kamikaze unit .
The narrator does not mention the date of the ceremony, but this example
illustrates how the film often jumbles the war's basic chronology.
The segments on Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima utilize extended segments from
postwar Japanese-produced films in an apparent attempt to pass these off as
history with no explanation to viewers. The rest of the documentary shows battle
and other wartime footage. Sometimes little or no narration accompanies this
footage for extended periods, so the documentary moves at a snail's pace in
places. The video has about three minutes of dramatic footage of kamikaze planes
crashing into the sea or ships, but this segment has little commentary from the
In 1961, Perry Wolff also created a similar documentary, The Smashing
of the Reich, based on historical newsreels but focused on fighting in the
European Theater in WWII.
Despite the title of Kamikaze and some footage of kamikaze attacks,
this film contains almost no history of Japan's
1. At 1:03:35 in video.