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Great Raid & Ghosts of Bataan documentaries (Read 10624 times)
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Great Raid & Ghosts of Bataan documentaries
Aug 12th, 2005, 9:39am
 
WWII Documentaries: Ghosts of Bataan and The Great Raid

After three years of intense effort, the deeply moving documentary exposing some of the most brutal and disturbing military events of World War II, the Bataan Death March and the horrific incarcerations of American and Filipino POWs, debuted on The Discovery Channel on T August 11. Ghosts of Bataan was released on television in conjunction with the theatrical release of a Miramax film The Great Raid on August 12th.

The Great Raid focuses on a daring and remarkable rescue mission carefully planned and perfectly orchestrated by 121 hand-selected U.S. Army Rangers. It marked Gen. Douglas MacArthur's promised return to the Philippines and saved over 500 U.S. Death March survivors languishing in a hellish Japanese POW camp at Cabanatuan at the end of WWII.

The Ghosts of Bataan documentary was produced from over 60 interviews conducted by Winnercomm with U.S. and Japanese soldiers who personally experienced the events plus WWII military experts and historians who carefully documented them.  Former Philippine Scouts Col. Mel Rosen, Lt. Col. Ed Ramsey and Capt. Menandro Parazo were among those interviewed.

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« Last Edit: Aug 12th, 2005, 2:18pm by Editor-at-Large »  

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Re: Great Raid & Ghosts of Bataan documentarie
Reply #1 - Aug 12th, 2005, 3:54pm
 
I agree, I watched an afternoon's worth of these great programs.
Sad that more of those responsible were not brought to justice.  Reportedly, one particularly barbaric Jap enjoyed a successful career in Japanese politics after the war and remained/remains unapologetic for his actions to this day.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe that Japan has ever apologized or recompensed surviviors of their death camps.

You're absolutely right.  No very convincing or specific apology has been issued and none of the victims of Japanese attrocities have been compensated.  Very few Japanese war criminals were executed or even brought to trial, and those who received prison sentences were released after serving rather short periods of incarceration.  This is explained, at least in part, by the American fixation on communism and determination to create an anti-communist bastion in Japan.

To this day, Japanese museums and history books blame the U.S. for the war, ignore their own war crimes and dwell on our "attrocity" in using the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  This is in marked contrast to the Germans, who have faced up to their culpability in the war.

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Re: Great Raid & Ghosts of Bataan documentarie
Reply #2 - Aug 13th, 2005, 6:20pm
 
The following was contributed by Col. Mel Rosen, a West Point graduate and Philippine Scout Field Artillery officer on Bataan.  Editor

I got to preview the film courtesy of a local Coalition of Filipino Veterans organizations. I prevailed on the group tp also invite one of the Rangers who lives in Alexandria. If you have a copy of "Ghost Soldiers", a picture of Vernon Abbott carrying one of the POWs appears in the second group of photos. I thought the movie was pretty good. I believe three stars out of five would be about right. Vernon Abbott thought it was a fairly accurate portrayal of the actual raid. I was sorry that the movie perpetuates the same mistake as in "Ghost Soldiers" that all the POWs in Cabanatuan were survivors of the Death March.

Mel

P.S. I also regret that the film gives the impression to the uninitiate that all the POWs returned home when this rescued group did. There was no mention of the many POWs who remained in  Japan and elsewhere until Sep 45.
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Re: Great Raid & Ghosts of Bataan documentarie
Reply #3 - Aug 13th, 2005, 9:18pm
 
Saw The Great Raid yesterday, August 12, and I thought that the film's depiction of the raid itself was excellent.

Unfortunately in the early part of the movie Margaret Utinsky gets "Hollywoodized" with an imaginary love interest.  She did what she could for humanitarian reasons, and the movie should have left it at that.  The review in the Houston newspaper said "Some movies don't need a love story," and that is certainly the case here.

But at least someone is telling the story!  And in my opinion they did a pretty good job of it, considering that a movie has to cover the whole subject in two hours or less.  The actual newsreel footage at the end of the movie was great--stay for the credits and see some of the men who actually were rescued--and did the rescuing.
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Re: Great Raid & Ghosts of Bataan documentarie
Reply #4 - Aug 14th, 2005, 4:17pm
 
I saw it yesterday too. People burst into an applause at the end of the movie. I'm happy with the level awareness that it is generating especially with the TV documentaries that were shown because of it.

I wish they shot the movie in the Philippines. It would have added a level of realism. But most people wouldn't know the difference between the Australian outback and the Philippine tropical vegetation.  
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Re: Great Raid & Ghosts of Bataan documentarie
Reply #5 - Aug 14th, 2005, 9:26pm
 
I saw the sneak preview. Nitpicking, besides the fictionalized 'Hollywood love story', the trees didn't seem native to the Philippines. Cesar Montano should've given lessons on the Australian-Filipina's Tagalog accent. The querilla leader, Capt. Pajota, wearing an Akubra (Australian felt hat) instead of a dirty native balanggot or buntal straw hat and Lt. Prince- instead of saying carabao (horned animal), would say caribou(antlered animal, like a reindeer), were some of the little things uncaught by the editors of the film. The Chicago Tribune movie critic gave it 3 stars, (4 being the highest), so I must agree that it's an OK-good feel film.
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Re: Great Raid & Ghosts of Bataan documentarie
Reply #6 - Aug 15th, 2005, 9:51am
 
The following was excerpted from an email sent by Betty Little, a niece of the late Brig. Gen. Royal Reynolds, the founding president of the Philippine Scouts Heritage Society.  Editor

The female character, Margaret Utinsky, has been tweaked, presumably for dramatic purposes, in "The Great Raid."  I have a copy of the 1948 book, "Miss U.," written by the actual Margaret Utinsky, if anyone is interested in knowing more about her.  (The Naylor Company, San Antonio, Texas.)

I haven't seem the movie yet, but our local paper says it portrays her as a nurse, which is accurate, and as a Lithuanian refugee, which she was not.  She is described in the picture caption of the article as smuggling quinine into the camp for her lover.

In fact, she was married to John Utinsky, an American engineer; thus Utinsky was her married name.  She decided that she did not want to leave the P. I.  with the other evacuating families until she could find out what had happened to her husband.  According to my uncle, BG Royal Reynolds, she was able to convince the Japanese that she was Lithuanian because of her husband's name and told them that Lithuania was an ally of Germany.  She developed an extensive smuggling network to bring food and medicine into the POW camps, thereby keeping many Americans allive.   She continued her effort even after she found out that her husband had died of starvation in August 1942..

The forward to the book was written by J. M. Wainwright, General, USA (Retired); the following is the last paragraph:

"Miss U" took every chance, ran every risk, and underwent torture in order to help the poor men behind barbed wire, and finally had to go to the hills and join the guerrillas.  Her gallantry and intrepidity were worthy of the best traditions of our country."

Betty

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Re: Great Raid & Ghosts of Bataan documentarie
Reply #7 - Aug 24th, 2005, 6:15pm
 
My wife and I saw the Great Raid on August 20. While I was critiquing the movie, my wife who had no idea of the story, was watching like the novise that represents 99% of America.

While there were many part that could be sighted, i.e., Floral and fauna, the love story of Mrs. U, etc, the themes of the movie came throught in fine form.

For the uninitiated to see the inhumanity of the Death March, the squalid conditions of the prison camps, the loneliness of the men in desperate conditions and the orders from Tokyo to kill all the prisoners at war's end, makes this a must see for every citizen of our country.

My wife and I both thought th movie did a fine job covering three years of situations in four days. But,that is what movies are able to do in their artistic form.

I only wish the movie had more theaters and screens. At least in our area, we had to drive 50 miles to Springfield, Missouri, where the movie was only on one screen in one theater.

This movie deserves at least four stars out of five.
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Re: Great Raid & Ghosts of Bataan documentarie
Reply #8 - Aug 25th, 2005, 4:55pm
 
I saw The Great Raid on August 19th and thought it was exciting and well done.  There were a few historical gaffs, but over all I thought it was pretty authentic and the mixture of archival film with the movie was pretty good.

The characters were, by and large, believable, although some to the individuals playing POWs were a little too well fed.  The actor, Benjamin Bratt, who played Lt. Col. Henry Mucci, the overalll commander of the raid , looked a great deal like him.  One of the noteworthy features that was the recognition of the critical role played by Filipino guerrillas during the raid.

The movie did not play down the Japanese brutality at all.  The scenes and sadistic behavior of man toward man were graphic.  

It's an inspiring story that I came away from both touched and saddened by these events of 60 years ago.  There are so many "what ifs ...."  They still haunt many of us to this day and have influenced our lives in so many ways.

The principle Rhode Island newspaper has given the movie three stars out of five.  It's been reported that more papers than not have given it four stars.  That' my reading.  The movie deserves at least four stars.  I intend to buy it once the film is released on Video and DVD.

John Patterson
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Re: Great Raid & Ghosts of Bataan documentarie
Reply #9 - Sep 7th, 2005, 3:56pm
 
The September 1, 2005, review by the Portland (Maine) Press Herald of The Great Raid concluded with the following:  

"A refreshing reminder of the truly glorious heroism of long ago, of soldiers who needed no political rationalizations for why they were fighting, the film has an intrinsic suspense as the rescue launch approaches.  In itself it's among the best of localized war battles ever rendered in film."

The paper gave the movie 3 of 4 stars.

The movie here in Rhode Island moved in and out of the theaters pretty quickly, which is too bad.  Nevertheless, it's an important film historically and a reminder of an important, if tragic part of our past.

John Patterson
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Re: Great Raid & Ghosts of Bataan documentarie
Reply #10 - Sep 25th, 2005, 1:34pm
 
I saw the movie last Sunday at the base theatre at Lackland Air Force Base with some very young recruits just out of basic training.  I was elated that most of these young attendees expressed an interest in viewing a part of American History that is not widely known.  The movie, though not a cinematic blockbuster, was a lesson for us all as in the power of hope in face of despair.  Having read the book "Ghost Soldiers" by Hampton Sides if was looking forward to seeing this movie since the last movie I saw on this event was "Bataan" with John Wayne and Anthony Quinn.  I hope to share this movie with my family when it comes out on DVD.
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Re: Great Raid & Ghosts of Bataan documentarie
Reply #11 - Oct 1st, 2005, 7:49am
 
The movie played east of Seattle, in one theater,  for about one week. My family has one day off together,  out of every other week. The movie was here during the "work" week.

My daughter, her son, and I went to lunch with a group of daughters of exPOWs of the Japanese, and someone said we should go as group to see the movie; alas, the film left the area about two weeks earlier.   Sad
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