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This is the story of how Canadian servicemen were thoughtlessly hung
out to dry and endure the onslaught of the Japanese Imperial Army
during the latter's take-over of the British colony of Hong Kong in
December of 1941.
One of the great questions arising from the documentary is how a group of soldiers who were previously serving barracks duty in the Jamaica could be put in harm's way, let alone confront the fearsome Japanese. The filmmakers re-construct the chain of events expertly, thereby allowing the viewer to inhabit an emotion of outrage on behalf of those Canadian troops.
Contrary to another reviewer's opinion, I hold that there is ample evidence in the film which documents the wholesale neglect claimed by the film's directors. Not only does the Canadian government look awful but so too do the British. By letting racist constructs determine their level of preparedness, the British added to the tragedy.
This film is a testament to the notion that governments determine when wars are fought and citizens are the ones who pay the ultimate consequences.
I know one of the co-stars Bob Clayton personally. He has spoken to my History students many times over the years. To state that this is nothing more than a "Titanic-like" documentary is ludicrous. There is no doubt that the Canadian government sent just under 2,000 poorly-trained Canadians to Hong Kong to bolster a garrison of 10,000 British Commonwealth troops. There is also no doubt that they would have a very difficult time if 50,000 battle-trained Japanese soldiers attacked. To state otherwise is to shame the memory of over 500 brave Canadians who died in the battle or in Japanese POW camps. The next time that you criticize something, please take the time to learn more about it.
The Japanese attacked Hong Kong from the north in 1941 and Hong Kong
fell. It was manned by Canadian troops with virtually no training.
"Some had never even fired a rifle." I don't know how seriously to take
claims like this. How does one get through basic training in the
Canadian Army without firing a rifle?
I didn't watch it all the way through, not just because it seemed arguable at so many points but because of the way it's structured. Too often Actors look into the camera and smile while they presumably read letters once sent by the soldiers themselves to friend and relatives. It's all a little embarrassing, especially when the film quietly lambastes the Japanese troops who still survive and meet for reunions.
The narrator may be a fine man, fond of his family and his dogs, but he has an edgy nasal voice that's difficult for me to listen to.
Some of the comments describe this film as controversial. You can tell it's supposed to be exactly that in the first few minutes.
This documentary implies that the Canadian government sent a battalion
of troops to Honk Kong on the eve of the Japanese strike on Pearl
Harbor knowing that they would be slaughtered once war began. These
accusations are not supported by historical evidence and those parts of
the film are generally regarded as having been included specifically to
stir controversy and so publicity.
The public outcry in Canada over this film nonetheless did not hurt the producers, whose careers skyrocketed after its production.
I would encourage anyone wishing to see Savage Christmas to do so with a grain of salt.
Other than the accusation described above, the film is well-produced and smoothly done, but it should perhaps be filed more in the category of history-based film, such as John Cameron's "Titanic" than as a documentary.
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