Typhoon at Okinawa
Part of World War II with Walter Cronkite
Produced by Isaac Kleinerman
Written by Robert Shaplen
CBS Video, 1982, 23 min., Video
CBS News broadcasted in 1982 this World War II documentary series totaling 22
hours, and the network's famed anchorman Walter Cronkite provided the narration.
The three-hour video shown at right includes eight separate segments on the
Pacific War. A 23-minute segment  entitled "Typhoon at Okinawa"
deals with Japanese kamikaze attacks against American ships off Okinawa. Although
this segment offers some interesting footage, the limited narrative provides
details on the background and causes of the Battle of Okinawa and the kamikaze
attacks from April to June 1945.
Orchestral music with loud brass and percussion fills "Typhoon at
Okinawa," but the documentary lacks historical analysis. Several
places in the film, one longer than three minutes, have only this music to
accompany the film footage with no narrative explanation. Even though this short
documentary segment covers only kamikaze attacks during the Battle of Okinawa,
the film shows without explanation several clips of kamikaze pilots and sorties made in the
Philippines about six months prior to the start of the Okinawan conflict . The
segment on "Typhoon at Okinawa" also does not have interviews with or quotations from battle participants or
The documentary's producer includes a couple of parts that have limited
relevance to the Battle of Okinawa and the kamikaze attacks. A one-minute
segment shows American planes crashing as they try to make carrier landings, but
the narration does not explain their relevance to this documentary's main theme. The
film also includes four minutes on a typhoon that hit Okinawa in early June
1945, but most of this part just has loud orchestral music with various clips of
waves pounding ships. Most short documentaries and histories of the Battle of
Okinawa do not mention this typhoon, since it had no significant effect on the
The video contains seven other segments on the Pacific War, including New
Guinea, aircraft carrier Enterprise, Aleutian Islands, Japanese
Americans, Burma Road, Tarawa, and Hiroshima. "The Nisei: The Pride and
the Shame," a 23-minute segment  on the
experiences of Japanese Americans during World War II, has an excellent narrative and includes fascinating interviews with several Japanese Americans.
This segment covers the experiences of camp internment and the battle
accomplishments of the highly decorated 442nd Regimental Combat Team made up of
Although the eight separate segments of this video have some
interesting sections, "Typhoon at Okinawa" contains few
insights into Japan's kamikaze operations. Vague explanations such as "fanaticism
of mass suicide," inclusion of two barely relevant topics (i.e., carrier
landings, typhoon), and overuse of orchestral music without narrative make this
a documentary segment to be skipped.
1. From 2:11:30 to 2:34:45 in video.
2. From 2:15:05 to 2:15:35 in video.
3. From 1:01:30 to 1:24:50 in video.