In this installment of the "Why We Fight" propaganda series, we learn about the country of China and its people. With a brief history of the country, we also learn of why the Japanese wanted to conquer it and felt confident about succeeding. Finally, the history of the war in that theatre is illustrated and shows the stiff determination of the Chinese who use all their resources to oppose Japanese aggression to the end. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm <email@example.com>
Part 6 in a series of 7 films created as a briefing for soldiers but also released for public viewing, these films by Frank Capra for the War Department are simultaneously good propaganda and good history, well told. Footage is from the field, and the historical facts behind the narration are largely accurate and informative, if "embellished". The embellishment is what makes it propaganda, yet it does not diminish the facts presented. I'm very impressed that an informed and largely accurate reading of history could be presented in a way that makes an emotional and moral point about the justness of fighting fascism, deliberate mass murder of civilians and tyranny. (And no, that fight does not justify later bombings of Dresden or Hiroshima and Nagasaki.)
Effective and well done, this is influential film-making during a time of chaos, confusion and disarray. In hindsight we can see that things turned out well for our side, yet at the time these films were made victory against world fascism was definitely not a certainty. These films helped to lay a moral foundation for the open-ended challenges faced then. They also provided a historical context and education about world events leading up to American involvement in the war that most soldiers probably did not possess. Pearl Harbor was correctly presented as a midpoint in Japan's war of aggression, not the beginning of it. This film was a "morning wake up" historical briefing for the sleeping giant's fighters.
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