The true history of Japanese Unit 731, from its beginnings in the 1930s to its demise in 1945, and the subsequent trials in Khabarovsk, USSR, of many of the Japanese doctors from Unit 731. ... See full summary »
The true history of Japanese Unit 731, from its beginnings in the 1930s to its demise in 1945, and the subsequent trials in Khabarovsk, USSR, of many of the Japanese doctors from Unit 731. The facts are told, and previously unknown evidence is revealed by an eyewitness to these events, former doctor and military translator, Anatoly Protasov. Part documentary and part feature, the story is shown from the perspective of a young Japanese nurse who witnessed many of horrors, and a young Japanese officer who is torn between his sincere convictions that he is serving the greater purpose, and the deep sympathy he feels for an imprisoned Russian girl. His life is a living hell as he's compelled to carry out atrocious experiments on the other prisoners, using them as guinea pigs in this shocking tale of mankind's barbarity. "Philosophy of a Knife" is truly one of the most violent, brutal and harrowing movies ever made. Written by
I'm not going to say that Philosophy Of A Knife is a terrible film and one that nobody should derive any satisfaction from but I am going to start this review by saying that, for me, it was one of the most mind-numbing and arduous viewings I've had in recent years. The content just doesn't justify the running time of OVER FOUR HOURS and almost every minute was an endurance test.
Of course, that could be the point. It could be part of the whole experience, helping viewers feel a fraction of the discomfort and psychological trauma that too many prisoners endured in the notorious Japanese Unit 371 (the setting for the extremely nasty Men Behind The Sun). Because that's what Philosophy Of A Knife is all about, it's the story of war and it's the story of Unit 371. There are horrors contained in this movie beyond most things that you could ever imagine. And, worst of all, they were real. The film feels like a selection of archival footage (though it's all very well recreated) interspersed with narration (by Stephen Tipton) and accounts of the situation by Anatoly Protasov.
Written and directed by Andrey Iskanov, Philosophy Of A Knife deserves some admiration considering what was achieved on a relatively low budget. It's clear that Iskanov wants to push boundaries but also do the subject justice but it's not clear just what he's aiming for with the final product. The historical facts are interesting when they appear but a lot of the anecdotal material repeats what has just been shown and there are long sections of the film with no information whatsoever. The other aspect of the movie is the gore and nastiness content. There are, indeed, many moments that are deeply unpleasant but they're also edited in a messy manner and just dealt with in a generally hyper-active manner, which won't please those who develop headaches easily.
If you have heard of this film before and want to give it a go then do so but remember that it IS an endurance test. Even if you like it much more than I did you will still find many scenes gruelling. Because it's all about torture and sadism and traumas that still resonate today as appalling acts committed by those who seemed to lose their humanity for a while.
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