Kazuo Hara’s The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On (1987) is a documentary like few others. Watching Kenzo Okuzaki cut a swath through his old squad mates in search of the truth is unsettling, especially as the process intensifies. Is that because he will resort to violence and deception to get answers? Do his goals – honor, truth, justice – expose how subjective those things are in his pursuit? Is it because the filmmakers tread a dangerous line of manipulation and nonintervention? After seeing this, you won’t be able to turn your back on these questions.
The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On is a favorite of documentary makers, as well. Its bold approach, volatile subject, and unfolding mystery result in an incendiary film. The violence at the heart of the story is scarring. It creates a dilemma that isn’t easily negotiated, either. We have to frequently evaluate just how much we support Okuzaki’s quest. Is it quixotic or is it something more sinister? Your answer may depend on if you feel you’ve ever been pushed to the brink. What does a person do when they have right on their side and no one will listen or they have no other recourse? And we haven’t even talked about the cannibalism yet.
What you’ll find in this episode: desertion, cannibalism, the horrors of war, when the pursuit of justice tips over into madness, and pornographic flyers of the emperor.
Links and Recommendations:
Check out The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On on IMDB.
Ericca’s further viewing pick of The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara.
Cole’s further viewing pick of A Man Vanishes.
Check out this article about David Nemechek and his signs.
Here is a great resource for starting out with Kazuo Hara on Film Studies for Free.