Hidden sadness in Propaganda

The most important or meaningful shot of this movie is a shot of burning battle ship of U.S.. This battle ship has damage by an attack from Japanese air force. After this scene, the movie moves to a scene of celebrating of soldier’s return.

Sinking burning battle ship

This scene is an exceptional scene in this propaganda movie. This movie, “Momotaro’s Sea Eagle”, is usually a propaganda movie to encourage Japanese, particularly in children’s, motivation toward WW2. That is true, because Japanese Ministry of Navy sponsored it and it has many encouraging scenes. In this movie, however, this shot emphasizes tragically damage of a demon’s, standing for U.S., side.

Before this shot, one demon, looking an officer, is rushing and waving a white flag meaning surrender under Japanese attacking. Despite the white flag, Japan continues bombing and sink the ship. After this attack, the concerning shot comes up. In this sequence, the shot of the burning and sinking ship should be included to emphasize Japanese victory and greatness, so should be celebrating or brave scene. However, the shot conveys opposite atmosphere rather than celebrating. This should be detected from two features of this scene. First one is a silence. This scene has no or little BGM (Back Ground Music). If this scene is a celebrating one, the BGM should include up-tempo sounds of trumpet, tambour and so on, but here it does not at all. Second, the shot completely pauses from the beginning to the end of the shot. It has no zooming or panning. These two features create a sad or tragic atmosphere rather than celebrating. Thus, it is fair to say that the director Seo tried to convey a tragic aspect of war even in the propaganda movie sponsored by Japanese Ministry of Navy.

This emphasizing is original only in this movie, in other words the original Momotaro does not have this kind of story. Therefore, in addition to propaganda, this movie has a unique character, emphasizing sadness of loosers.


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