Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Propaganda context to the final months of WWII

Released on the eve (February 1944) of the beginning of the American strategic bombing campaign of Japan (June 1944), The Purple Heart, is a film portraying the imagined fate of the eight members of a Doolittle Raid bomber crew that were captured by the Japanese of which three were executed and one died of starvation. The Doolittle Raiders were awarded a Congressional Gold Medal this year.

The movie is recalled for having one of the most inspiring endings in a WWII film, Capt. Harvey Ross (Dana Andrews) addresses his Japanese accusers (who look jarringly and inappropriately like Chinese Fu Manchu caricatures) with a defiant speech predicting Japan's coming devastation. Capt. Ross tells the Japanese that Americans do not give up. 

The judges condemn the accused pilots to death, and they proudly march to their destiny, as the US Air Force's theme Wild Blue Yonder plays in a rousing rendition. It is likely the message was as much for the American audiences as it was to impress upon the Germans and Japanese of American determination. 

In the movie, General Ito Mitsubi said "We will win this war because we are willing to sacrifice ten million lives. How many lives is the white man willing to sacrifice?" Well, the answer is we don't have to, we have better technology.

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