Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Movies at war

Whenever Rob and I see an ad for a new World War II movie, we restate our belief that some day, years down the road, the movie will be "OKINAWA" and it will be about the battle my dad was a part of in April, 1945.

The ad for "Flags of our Fathers", Hollywood's new Clint Eastwood movie about Iwo Jima, just came on, and the captions noted that battle included 70,000 Marines, 22,000 Japanese soldiers, and 880 US warships.

OK, fair and well-met. But Okinawa was the largest land-air-sea battle in history. The US had 180,000+ troops there. Civilian losses alone topped 150,000. Add in soldiers on both sides and you top 250,000. The Japanese and American casualties were twice the number killed at Iwo and Guadalcanal combined.

In the Hiroshima Peace Museum, of all places, I read that because of Okinawa, there was Hiroshima, and because of Hiroshima, the world forgot about Okinawa. In other words, Okinawa was so hard-fought that the US realized it could not go on fighting land battles like this, it would have to find another means to take Japan. And then the bomb fell, and no one spoke any more of the hundreds of thousands dead on Okinawa, because hundreds of thousands were dead at Hiroshima and later, Nagasaki.

You could use Ernie Pyle's columns as fodder, Hollywood. Here's one that he hadn't finished when he died, on Okinawa, at the hands of a Japanese machine gunner. Even in the thick of what must have been utter terror, Pyle managed lines like "My contribution to the capture consisted of standing to one side and looking as mean as I could."

Please don't have Leonardo DiCaprio or Matt Damon play him though. And may a hundred thousand Marine ghosts haunt you if you cast Ashton Kutcher.

Hollywood, I'll even give you a title for your eventual movie: "Okinawa: The Last Battle." You can ask my dad to be your technical consultant. He doesn't talk about it much, but he remembers it all.


Anonymous said...

Wow, that sounds like it would be a riveting movie. You should totally write a script.

Kopi said...

I'm reading E.B. Sledge's With The Old Breed for my American History class, and when I saw that ad, I thought it was for a movie based on the book. Honestly, I'd rather see a movie based on Okinawa than Iwo Jima. Everyone sees the statue and remembers, but no one knows about Okinawa.