Kazuo Hara’s controversial documentary “The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On” highlights the question of God’s law versus Man’s (government) law. Kazuo follows World War II veteran, Kenzo Okuzaki as he strives for truth and justice in response to war crimes committed in New Guinea after the war. Okuzaki is extreme in his interviewing and occasionally interrogates the old former soldiers involved in brutal war crimes from over 40 years in the past.
Hara’s narrative film style contributes to the God’s law and Man’s law problem through having viewers gradually find out about what really happened in New Guinea and then deciding whether Okuzaki’s actions are appropriate. As Okuzaki energetically persists to find truth and as the truth is revealed, viewers gradually become more and more informed. If all the facts were immediately clear, less thinking would be required, but since the facts change throughout the film, the entire film is an analytical process.
The stoic film style in the face of violence emphasizes Okuzaki’s unflinching conviction and therefore the issue in law. Hara does not hesitate to continue filming when tensions run high or even when physical fighting breaks out. In addition, the camera does not zoom in to exaggerate or intensify the upheaval; but, rather remains at a distance as if to make the dramatic events seem more normal. Having a broader perspective on the scene allows the audience a more unbiased understanding of the entire situation and possible absurdity of Okuzaki’s actions.
There is a strong sense of irony because Okuzaki uses violence to bring past violence to light. Irony is a powerful tool that forces people to contemplate hypocrisy which is exactly what Hara is stressing. Are Okuzaki’s fanatical actions necessary? If so, are they justified? Perhaps one man revisiting the distant past and attacking frail old men in their homes is not warranted. In addition to violence, there is a sense of irony associated with truth. In order to uncover the truth about the past, Okuzaki does not hesitate to use cooperating people to impersonate victims’ relatives to achieve his goals. Okuzaki devoutly believes every single action he takes is vindicated because he is carrying out God’s law and that Man’s law comes second.
In the end, regardless of God’s or Man’s law, it is responsibility that is most important. Hara communicates this through Okuzaki’s willingness to take responsibility whenever he breaks a law. At the time of filming, Okuzaki had already spent over twelve years in prison for various offenses, and during the film’s interviews (interrogations), voluntarily calls the police on himself several times. It is also the fact that Okuzaki believes the veterans involved with the cannibalism have never taken responsibility and therefore they must before they die. As long as responsibility is taken, the law will be followed, whether it be God’s or Man’s.