Know Your Enemy: Japan

A shocking World War II-era documentary from Frank Capra, unseen for decades. Plus 'Recognition of the Japanese Zero Fighter' with Ronald Reagan.
779 ratings
SALE: $5.95
List Price: $7.98
You Save: $2.03 (25% Off)
Available: Usually ships in 1-3 business days
Format:  DVD-R
item number:  ALP 7994D
Brand New
Holiday Ordering Guidelines: Delivery in the US by December 24th
for Economy Shipping
for Fast 'N Cheap Shipping
for Premium (1-5 Days) Shipping
for Premium (USPS 1-3 Days) Shipping
Buy this DVD & matching 11" x 17" Poster Add Both to Cart

DVD-R Details

  • Run Time: 1 hours, 23 minutes
  • Video: Black & White
  • Encoding: Region 0 (Worldwide)
  • Released: September 26, 2017
  • Originally Released: 1945
  • Label: Alpha Video

Description by

Know Your Enemy: Japan uses newsreels, re-enactments, and captured enemy footage to create an appalling wartime document that was considered too incendiary for wide release. Initially meant to be part of director Frank Capra's Why We Fight documentary series, it was intended to prepare American soldiers for Operation Downfall, the forthcoming invasion of Japan. In early 1943, Capra hired Dutch filmmaker Joris Ivens to supervise the project. Ivens then brought on famed screenwriter Carl Foreman (The Bridge on the River Kwai, High Noon) to script the film's narration. After Capra viewed the pair's rough cut, he subsequently fired them both, finding their work far too sympathetic to the Japanese people. Ivans and Foreman had portrayed the Japanese as open-minded and peaceful, placing the blame for their involvement in WWII squarely on Emperor Hirohito, insisting he was a power-mad dictator that should be tried as a war criminal. Capra restructured the film as an indictment of the Japanese as a whole, calling them "a warring, bloodthirsty people" who "live on rice and fish, and are proud of it." For them, "to be a soldier is the highest human achievement." Dying in battle is "the attainment of an ideal" to the extent that "mothers and wives accept the ashes of their dead soldiers without grief of sorrow." Adding graphic war footage and unintentionally comic re-enactments, Know Your Enemy: Japan now portrayed the Japanese as little more than barbaric savages. Capra's intentions are best summarized by the line, "We shall never completely understand the Japanese mind...but then, they don't understand ours, either." Because of the strife behind the scenes, the film was not completed until summer 1945. Perhaps wary of its racist tenor, Assistant Secretary of War John McCloy added an opening title noting the bravery of Nisei (Japanese-American) soldiers overseas. It finally screened for soldiers on August 9, 1945 -- the day the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. With Operation Downfall now cancelled, the film was completely withdrawn by the end of August, never garnering a wide release like Capra's other war documentaries. Seen today, Know Your Enemy: Japan is a jaw-dropping piece of xenophobic propaganda that illustrates just how far we've come since the end of World War II.

BONUS: Recognition of the Japanese Zero Fighter (1943): A young pilot, played by Ronald Reagan, learns how to distinguish enemy planes from friendly ones in this WWII-era instructional film made for airmen about to enter the Pacific Theater. Starring Ronald Reagan, Craig Stevens. Directed by Bernard Vorhaus.

This product is made-on-demand by the manufacturer using DVD-R recordable media. Almost all DVD players can play DVD-Rs (except for some older models made before 2000) - please consult your owner's manual for formats compatible with your player. These DVD-Rs may not play on all computers or DVD player/recorders. To address this, the manufacturer recommends viewing this product on a DVD player that does not have recording capability.
Alpha Video DVDs
Alpha Video - DVD Sale
Own it on DVD for $5.99 or less

Product Info

  • Sales Rank: 16,063
  • UPC: 089218799494
  • Shipping Weight: 0.16/lbs (approx)
  • International Shipping: 1 item

Film Collectors & Archivists: Alpha Video is actively looking for rare and unusual pre-1943 motion pictures, in good condition, from Monogram, PRC, Tiffany, Chesterfield, and other independent studios for release on DVD. We are also interested in TV shows from the early 1950s. Share your passion for films with a large audience. Let us know what you have.
To place an order or for customer service, call toll-free 1-800-336-4627 or outside the United States, call 1-610-649-7565
Open Monday-Friday: 9am-10pm, Weekends: 11am-7pm (Eastern Time)
Se habla Español! Spanish-speaking representatives available, Monday-Friday: 9am-5pm (Eastern Time)