Only search Kamikaze Images

Produced and written by Perry Wolff
Video Yesteryear, 1961, 85 min., Video

This documentary's title, Kamikaze, is a misnomer. The 1961 film, still sold in several WWII documentary collections, covers the war between Japan and the U.S. from 1941 to 1945, with the first 20 minutes devoted to the story of the Pearl Harbor attack. Film clips showing kamikaze pilots and attacks make up only a little more than 10 minutes of this 85-minute video.

The film's narrative provides few historical details on Japan's kamikaze operations and the rest of the war in the Pacific. The narrator rarely mentions specific dates or months, so viewers will have a difficult time following the timing of events. For example, right after a segment on the Tokyo fire bombing of March 1945, the film switches to show a farewell ceremony in October 1944 in the Philippines for the first kamikaze unit [1]. The narrator does not mention the date of the ceremony, but this example illustrates how the film often jumbles the war's basic chronology.

The segments on Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima utilize extended segments from postwar Japanese-produced films in an apparent attempt to pass these off as history with no explanation to viewers. The rest of the documentary shows battle and other wartime footage. Sometimes little or no narration accompanies this footage for extended periods, so the documentary moves at a snail's pace in places. The video has about three minutes of dramatic footage of kamikaze planes crashing into the sea or ships, but this segment has little commentary from the narrator.

In 1961, Perry Wolff also created a similar documentary, The Smashing of the Reich, based on historical newsreels but focused on fighting in the European Theater in WWII.

Despite the title of Kamikaze and some footage of kamikaze attacks, this film contains almost no history of Japan's kamikazes.


1. At 1:03:35 in video.