Symbolism in East Asia Films

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Symbolism involves the use of behaviors, objects, people or titles asrepresentatives of mystic ideas or a state of mind. Japanesefilmmakers use various symbolic acts to depict the scale ofdestruction. The Fire on the Plain, The Black Rain, and Twenty-FourEyes have well conceived symbolic acts of behavior and objects thatgive one an indication of the destruction brought about y the ordealsin the films.

The Fire on the Plain is symbolically named to indicate thedestruction in the region where the Japanese soldiers are fighting.Fire is one of the most dangerous elements that can lead to massivedestruction. When a plain catches fire, it spreads so fast and candestroy thousands of acres in only a few hours. Fire on the Plain,therefore, is symbolic of the destruction going on in the country,and it is not easy to quench it (Brooks). The sightings of fires onthe plain are indications that the effects of the war are extensive.Soldiers in the novel starve almost to death, and they result incannibalism that is one of the highest orders of immorality. When,the soldiers become cannibalistic to the extent of earmarking peopleto kill for them to survive. It is a symbolic act of what the ear hasreduced people even to commit murder to survive. The effects of warresult to people killing even their friends. It is an indication thatpeople would stop at nothing, not even the moral values that bindthem together (Brooks).

Twenty-Four Eyes is set in a village setting that has not yetexperienced the effects of war. The inhabitants of the village do notrefer to eh war as important, and they do not pay attention to it.Miss Oishi symbolically comes to the village as a new teacher and theinhabitants of the village consider her as unfit for the villageschool (Croce). Miss Oishi is a symbol of the scale of the totaldestruction of the war since it started finding its war even to thevillage to recruit people. When she comes to the village, she becomespart of them the same way the war would claim their children byenlisting them. Her broken leg is symbolic of how the war woulddestroy the village. The enlistment age of boys going to war camedown 14 years. Those who went to war came back bearing the ashremains of their peers. Miss Oishi’s broken leg leads to the pupilsmissing lessons and they suffer (Croce). The village refers to hercondition as unfortunate. During the same time, the government comesfor the young boys who have to leave their families to go to thebattlefield. The destruction of the war finally reached the village.

The Black Rain is a film that depicts the outcomes of the atomic bombto the Japanese community. It is a film that outlines destruction onthe social fabric that joined the Japanese community. Yasukosymbolically represents the war-torn. Since she wants to get married,suitors suspect that she is not healthy since she was caught in theblack rain. She finds it difficult to find a suitor despite being inearnest of finding one (Ebert). Her guardians cannot get her ahusband, and she even reports to finding papers that affirm herhealth condition. Japan as a country could not survive withoutassociating with other countries. However, the effects of its warwith America that resulted in the dropping of the atomic bomb atNagasaki made other countries skeptical about its stability (Ebert).Yasuko’s inability to find an interested suitor symbolicallyrepresents the extent of the war to the whole community. Peopleavoided those caught in the black rain fearing that they may sufferfrom the radiations. The image of a burdened civilian that could fallinto pieces when touched symbolically represents the social fabricthat joined the community together. The body’s organs are alwaysintact, and they complement each other. However, in the burned body,the organs are not working, and they fall apart easily. The communityin Nagasaki had a strong cord that joined them but after the blackrain, the start profiling those who were caught in the black rain.They were not ready to accept them and bear the burden in case of anyinfection.

During the total war, the Japanese soldiers and civilians had to copewith the dehumanization and destruction directed towards them. At thestart of the total war, soldier knew that the American bombers wouldbe a bit reluctant to bomb civilian strongholds. Therefore, some ofthem opted to hide behind the civilians making it difficult for theAmerican soldiers to identify them (Spector 17). Also, thedehumanizing act served to reduce them to inhuman elements that couldbe given any firm of punishment without a second thought. Thesoldiers caught in the enemy circles would be butchered and theirskulls as trophies. In retaliation, the public and the soldiers wouldmutilate the bodies of the American soldiers and in a way pay backthe brutality meted against them (Spector 17). To shield themselvesfrom the effects of the shells targeting concentrated areas, thecivilians dodged to bunkers, and some of them saved their lives.Also, some of them ran away from the towns and industries afterrealizing that these were targets for bombers.

Towards the end of the film, The Black Rain pacifism sentiments areevident in the suffering that the people have to endure. The inhumanact of subjecting the public to such a massive loss leads to theaffirmation that these people could have survived with an unjustpeace rather than a just war (Ebert). Although the supremacy of onefighting side had to be felt, it contributed to the death, sufferingand disorganization of people’s lives. The majority of them did nothave anything to do with the war.

The film challenges me to change my thoughts on the legacy ofNagasaki and Hiroshima. The show of military might buy the UnitedStates forged a pathway to legacy as the only country to haveconsumed so many lives using an atomic bomb. No country could matchits military strength. However, looking at the effects of the attackfrom the perspective of the direct victims only shows the legacy ofinhuman treatment. Unlike in other bombing incidents where peoplelost lives and property, the ordeal in Nagasaki and Hiroshima notonly cost people lives and property, but it also weakened the socialfabric that held people together. Instead of taking the act as a showof military might, it gained the legacy for both the short andlong-term suffering.

Works Cited

Brooks,Xan. Fires on the Plain: Venice Film Festival Review – BrilliantlyBonkers Japanese Film Reminds us War is Hell. TheGuardian.2014. Web. Croce,Fernando. Twenty-Four Eyes. TheSlant Magazine.2008. Web.

Ebert, Rodger. AReview of Black Rain. The Ebert Club. 2015. Web.

Spector, Ronald H.Eagle Against the Sun: The American War with Japan. Simon andSchuster, 2012. Print.

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