Wings of Defeat
In Japan, WWII Kamikaze are still revered as self-sacrificing heroes. Internationally, they remain a potent symbol of fanaticism. Until now, few outsiders knew that many Kamikaze survived their suicide missions. The candid, heartbreaking testimony of surviving Kamikaze conveys the true depth of war’s travesty. Sixty years later, these humble men tell us about the horrors of the cockpit, their dramatic survival and the survivors’ guilt still haunting them.
Wings of Defeat: Another Journey
Six American Navy veterans were interviewed for “Wings of Defeat” about surviving a Kamikaze attack on their ship. After seeing the completed film, in which former Kamikaze reveal that they were ordered to die, two veterans, Fred Mitchell and Gene Brick ask to meet with their former enemies. Fred Mitchell wants to try to shed the hatred he has harbored for the Japanese who sank his ship and killed his friends. Sixty years later he still suffers from symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and hopes that meeting former Kamikaze face to face will help ease the burden of his nightmarish memories. Gene Brick simply wants to ask them why the Kamikaze had been so eager to kill themselves crashing into enemy ships.
In August 2007, the filmmakers travel to Japan with Fred and Gene, introducing them to three former Kamikaze, filming their historic encounters in verite style. Overcoming their respective anxieties, the American and Japanese veterans, now in their 80’s, sit down to ask each other tough questions, resulting in unexpected intimacy and new-found mutual respect. As the former enemies laugh and cry together, we witness genuine and transformative reconciliation.
With a talk after the screenings with Producer/Director Risa Morimoto, Producer/Writer Linda Hoaglund, and Shireen Patell, Clinical Assistant Professor of Trauma & Violence Transdisciplinary Studies at NYU. Moderated by Shuki Cohen, Assistant Professor, Psychology Department, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY.