I used to think that war was attractive. In my childhood, I would read about World War II with excitement and wonder. I believed that it was admirable that the nation was able to band together in its greatest time of need in order to defeat a great foe and help liberty and justice prevail. I believed that the losses suffered by both sides, the Allies and the Axis, were justified in the battle against tyranny and oppression.
I believed that being drafted and going to fight for and defend your country was one of the highest honors a man could earn. Looking back on my childhood, while these beliefs still hold true, they no longer shine with the same luster they once shone with. The event that changed my perspective on war was watching the movie In This Corner of the World.
In This Corner of the World chronicles the story of Suzu Urano from her childhood growing up in the 1930’s imperial Japan to where she ended up in post-war Japan. Unlike other movies about World War II where the main characters are often soldiers, resistance fighters, or some sort of people involved in the conflict, in In This Corner of the World, Suzu is just a civilian living in imperial Japan. This allows the viewers to observe the war from a very unique perspective that has not been covered in many other films.
In many other World War II films the action and fighting often take up a majority of the screen time, however, in In This Corner of the World, the war is in the background of the film and does not take the spotlight. A majority of the film just depicts the daily life of Suzu but, near the end of the film, Suzu and her family are subjected to relentless bombing and tragedy. While just a movie, this made me realize the true toll of war more than almost anything else.
While the husband of Suzu did work at a naval arms factory in Kure, a Japanese city, Suzu was just a housewife who did not necessarily contribute to the war effort by helping to manufacture anything or working to help the military in any way.
The fact that she had to endure through these harsh conditions even though she was not fighting seems unjustified. This reflected the American strategy at the time of bombing the Japanese, whether civilian or military, in order to break Japanese morale and to try and weaken the Japanese war machine.
While this was seen as a viable strategy at the time, and possibly even now, the fact that any country had to resort to that reflected how brutal war is. This culminated in the atomic bombs being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki which, to me, seems like the epitome of the brutality of war.
The reason why this movie was so powerful to me was that it put a face to the countless civilians and unassociated people that are usually just numbers. This perfectly exemplifies something Stalin once said, “A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths are a statistic.” While Stalin was not a great guy, this movie made me truly realize the validity of this statement.
People “mourn” the thousands that died in the firebombing of Dresden but this movie and its depiction of the story of one person affected me a great deal more than any statistic.
After reading this you may think that I am some sort of pacifist now who avoids conflict at all costs, however, I believe that sometimes, no matter how tragic, war and all of the suffering that comes with it is necessary.