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Rikugun (1944)

Not Rated | | Drama , War | 7 December 1944 (Japan)
A widow raises her sickly son to be strong enough to join the army and fight on the front lines.


Keisuke Kinoshita


Shôhei Hino (original story), Tadao Ikeda (screenplay)


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Credited cast:
Chishû Ryû ... Tomosuke Takagi
Ken Mitsuda Ken Mitsuda ... Tomonojo, Son
Kazumasa Hoshino Kazumasa Hoshino ... Shintaro, Son
Kinuyo Tanaka ... Waka
Ken Uehara Ken Uehara ... Nishina
Haruko Sugimura ... Setsu
Shin Saburi ... Captain
Shûji Sano ... Kaneko
Eijirô Tôno ... Sakuragi
Toshio Hosokawa Toshio Hosokawa ... Hayashi
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Yasumi Hara Yasumi Hara ... Takeuchi
Fujio Nagahama Fujio Nagahama ... Fujita
Toshio Yamazaki Toshio Yamazaki
Jun Yokoyama Jun Yokoyama


Kinoshita's ambitious and intensely moving film begins as a multi-generational epic about the military legacy of one Japanese family, before settling into an emotionally complex portrayal of parental love during wartime. As the parents of a boy shipped off to battle, Kinuyo Tanaka and Chishu Ryu locate profound depths of feeling that transcend ideology. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | War


Not Rated






Release Date:

7 December 1944 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

Armia See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Shochiku Ofuna See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

A very moving vision from wartime Japan
6 December 2014 | by suttonstreet-imbdSee all my reviews

I was particularly moved by this film. Although I lived in Japan off and on for much of my adult life, I have had few chances to see anything of the wartime mentality of the Japanese, as this part of recent history has been forgotten or just revised. As one friend of mine once put it, wartime Japan was like North Korea today. People subjugated their own lives as well as the lives of their own children for their country and for the emperor, and found meaning in their lives by doing so. This is shown full face in this film. It is a closed view of the world, amplified by the belief that foreign powers are trying to destroy you and that only your own resilience and the grace of a god-like ruler provide a way forward. To watch these sincere young men being fed into this war machine and knowing the destruction they would wreak, as well as the devastation they would themselves suffer is hard to watch. Many of the generation that followed despised the emperor and everything he stood for, something I often heard expressed by my college host family and by my university professor who refused to stand for the Japan national anthem. There is also a strong strain of nationalism that still views Japan as a victim, and you can see some of the history of this as well.

It is also a rather odd film. Sponsored by the Japanese military at the time, it nevertheless feels like an anti-war film. The patriotism and the fervor expressed throughout the film always appear somewhat foolish, and the fealty to the emperor somewhat rote. The final scene (apparently censored by the military) is simply devastating in the way it shows a mother's emotions and fear trying to come to grips with the pride she is supposed to feel at her son marching off to war.

"Army" is fascinating in its historical context, poignant in its human emotions, and thoughtful in how it threads such a fine line between expressions of patriotism and individuality.

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