Showing posts with label Pacific. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pacific. Show all posts

12 August 2015

Film Review: Alone Across the Pacific (1963) by Kon Ichikawa, *****


A powerful hymn to the human spirit, Alone Across the Pacific by renowned Japanese director Kon Ichikawa (An Actor's Revenge, The Burmese Harp, Tokyo Olympiad) tells the extraordinary real-life story of one man's obsessive quest to break free from the strictures of society. In 1962, Kenichi Horie (Yujiro Ishihara) embarks on a heroic attempt to sail single-handed across the Pacific Ocean.

Leaving Osaka in an ill-prepared vessel, the Mermaid, the young adventurer must overcome the most savage of seas, the psychological torment of cabin fever, and his mental and physical breaking point, if he is ever to reach the fabled destination of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. Using Horie's best-selling logbook as his source, Ichikawa portrays the epic struggle of man against nature.

'Scope cinematography with Horie isolated in the oceanic expanse of the frame and a score by celebrated composer Toru Takemitsu, add to the drama of a film for which Ichikawa received a Golden Globe nomination, among other accolades.

New high definition digital transfer, anamorphically encoded, original 2.35:1 aspect ratio
New and improved optional English subtitles
Original Japanese trailer and two teasers newly subtitled
A lavish 24-page booklet featuring a colour reproduction of the original Japanese poster, archival publicity stills, and an essay by Brent Kliewer (professor at the College of Santa Fe)


This is Traveling with a capital T. Traveling for the sake of traveling. The real story of Kenichi Horie's first of many sailing challenges he set for himself. In 1962 he was a young ambitious man in Japan, a country still recuperating from a devastating defeat in WW II. He felt for his country, and said that for a nation with a long maritime tradition it was a shame no one had yet sailed solo across the Pacific. He wanted to do it for Japan.

And yet he wanted to leave Japan, where he suffered because of the cultural and social restrictions that hampered his wandering spirit. He wanted to be free of Japan as much as of his own family, whom he loved but whose interference with his dreams he could no longer put up with. He was fascinated by America, the power that defeated the Japanese Empire and established such a pervasive presence on the islands. He wanted to sail under the Golden Gate bridge of San Francisco. And he did, after ninety-four days of excruciating adventure and hardship.

He did it in a Japanese way: carefully preparing everything, meticulously executing the plan he had drawn, even trying to apply for a passport (he did not manage to get one in time) because he wanted to follow the rules. It is ironic that when he completed his feat his father, instead of being proud, promised to the media that upon return the son would apologize to the nation for having contravened the rules. (It was not allowed at the time for small boats to leave Japan.)

Buy the book here

In the US buy it here

05 May 2014

Book review: Journey to Yesterday (1950), by Silvia Baker, **

Muriel, by Silvia Baker

"One of the charms of travel" says Silvia Baker "is that you move in time as well as space. Weary of today, we can escape to half-mediaeval countries like Spain and Cyprus, or to enchanted islands in the Pacific or the Caribbean which are not spoilt as the tourists proclaime them to be."

Few are the fortunate people to whom the opportunity to sampre those charms is ever given. But to read about them is hardly, if at all, less satisfying, when the narrator is as observant, unconventional and witty as SIlvia Baker.

The two paragraphs above is what I read in the fron flap of the book's dust jacket while browsing the shelves of Daunt books, my favorite second hand travel book shop in London. I should have known better than trusting someone who can make such trite remarks but I decided to buy the book.

Polynesian girl drawn by the author

Disappointing. She does provide lots of anecdotes about her trip to the Pacific, but her observations are mostly superficial and inconsequential. They are so disorganized that one is left with nothing in the end that helps understand those countries and peoples.

Anecdotes and personal experience of a writer are not interesting in and of themselves except perhaps to his mother, but they might be interesting to a broader public if they are placed in the right context and help understand the object of the narration. Well you won't understand much about the countries Ms. Baker visited by reading this book.

On p. 34 she writes that "Tahiti is a kind of convent. You escape appointments, situations, anxieties, panics. You relax." Then on p. 71 we are subjected to the tiring litany of "until ten years ago, Tahiti was an Earthly Paradise", as in ... it is no longer one now (she writes in 1940). Reminds me of Gauguin who about forty years earlier fled Tahiti for the Marquesas because he thought they were spoiled and overcrowded then. It was always better ten years ago, and even better twenty. Please give me a break!

We do learn a few tid bits of interesting in formation, such that in Tahiti when a woman has no children she can ask a friend or sister who has several to give her one, especially a daughter, as she can help with the house chores.

A few pretty drawings by the author complement this book.

Btw her name is spelled SIlvia in the book, not Sylvia.

My always growing list of books on Polynesia is in this blog.

Buy the book in the US here

In the UK buy it here

12 June 2013

Film review: Flags of our Fathers (2006) by Clint Eastwood, ****

testo italiano di seguito


The film is about a photograph by James Rosenthal, one of the most famous war pictures of all times. Thematically ambitious and emotionally complex, Clint Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers is an intimate epic with much to say about war and the nature of heroism in America. Based on the non-fiction bestseller by James Bradley (with Ron Powers), and adapted by Million Dollar Baby screenwriter Paul Haggis (Jarhead screenwriter William Broyles Jr. wrote an earlier draft that was abandoned when Eastwood signed on to direct), this isn't so much a conventional war movie as it is a thought-provoking meditation on our collective need for heroes, even at the expense of those we deem heroic.

In telling the story of the six men (five Marines, one Navy medic) who raised the American flag of victory on the battle-ravaged Japanese island of Iwo Jima on February 23rd, 1945, Eastwood takes us deep into the horror of war (in painstakingly authentic Iwo Jima battle scenes) while emphasizing how three of the surviving flag-raisers (played by Adam Beach, Ryan Phillippe, and Jesse Bradford) became reluctant celebrities – and resentful pawns in a wartime publicity campaign – after their flag-raising was immortalized by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal in the most famous photograph in military history.


A typically Eastwood approach. He takes a highly unusual point of view to reveal the lesser known aspects of a very well known subject matter, in this case the flag raising photograph of the battle of Iwo Jima. Of the six men, three were killed in action a few days later. This is not a film meant to show bravery, though there is plenty of it. It is a cynical film to show how the American war propaganda machine manipulated the three survivors of the flag raising to ... raise money for war bonds. We learn how the flag itself was a coveted object of contention among politicians and military leaders. And how in the end those who were less interested in the iconic photograph were the people in it. They were there to do a job, and being in a photograph was not part of it.

Pretty amazing CGI. For example, technicians artificially reproduce the Pacific theather as a background for the rugged terrain in Iceland where the film was actually shot! You can see it's not real, but it's pretty close to look real.

Watch this film together with "Letters from Iwo Jima", also by Clint Eastwood, that tells the story of the battle from a Japanese point of view. I will review this most interesting film soon in this blog.

Region free BD

Buy the book here


Approccio tipicamente Eastwoodiano. Clint affronta l'argomento da un punto di vista molto inusuale per rivelare gli aspetti più nascosti di una vicenda ultranota, in questo caso la celebre foto della bandiera di Iwo Jima. Dei sei uomini nella foto, tre sono morti in combattimento nei giorni successivi. La macchina della propaganda bellica americana ha manipolato gli altri tre allo scopo di raccogliere fondi per finanziare il prosieguo della guerra. (Siamo a Febbraio 1945 ed il Giappone non ha ancora nessuna intenzione di arrendersi.)

Alla fine si capisce come i sei personaggi nella foto erano i meno interessati alla foto stessa: erano a Iwo per uno scopo ben preciso, e posare in una fotografia non rientrava nei loro compiti.

Buoni effetti speciali: i tecnici hanno ricreato lo sfondo dello sbarco e lo hanno inserito dietro le montagne islandesi dove si sono svolte le riprese. Sembra quasi vero.

Consiglio di vedere questo film con "Lettere da Iwo Jima", sempre di Clint Eastwood, che racconta come quella drammatica battaglia fu vissuta dai giapponesi.

BD in italiano

Compra il libro in italiano qui

16 March 2013

Film review: The Burmese Harp (1956), by Kon Ichikawa, *****


A rhapsodic celebration of song, a brutal condemnation of wartime mentality, and a lyrical statement of hope within darkness; even amongst the riches of 1950s' Japanese cinema, The Burmese Harp, directed by Kon Ichikawa (Alone Across the Pacific, Tokyo Olympiad), stands as one of the finest achievements of its era.

Mizushima taught a Burmese boy to play his harp
At the close of World War II, a Japanese army regiment in Burma surrenders to the British. Private Mizushima is sent on a lone mission to persuade a trapped Japanese battalion to surrender also. When the outcome is a failure, he disguises himself in the robes of a Buddhist monk in hope of temporary anonymity as he journeys across the landscape but he underestimates the power of his assumed role.

A visually extraordinary and deeply moving vision of horror, necessity, and redemption in the aftermath of war, Ichikawa's breakthrough film is one of the great humanitarian affirmations of the cinema.

Nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar and honoured at the Venice Film Festival. You can watch a trailer here.

07 February 2013

Film review: The Thin Red Line (1998), by Terrence Malick, ****


After directing two of the most extraordinary movies of the 1970s, Badlands and Days of Heaven, American artist Terrence Malick disappeared from the film world for twenty years, only to resurface in 1998 with this visionary adaptation of James Jones’s 1962 novel about the World War II battle for Guadalcanal. A big-budget, spectacularly mounted epic, The Thin Red Line is also one of the most deeply philosophical films ever released by a major Hollywood studio, a thought-provoking meditation on man, nature, and violence. Featuring a cast of contemporary cinema’s finest actors—Sean Penn (Dead Man Walking, Milk), Nick Nolte (The Prince of Tides, Affliction), Elias Koteas (Zodiac, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), and Woody Harrelson (Natural Born Killers, The People vs. Larry Flynt) among them—The Thin Red Line is a kaleidoscopic evocation of the experience of combat that ranks as one of cinema’s greatest war films.

17 July 2012

Book review: Prisoner of the Japanese, by Tom Wade, *****

English prisoners freed in Japan, September 1945 (AP Photo)

On 15 February 1942, the Japanese captured Singapore and took 130,000 Allied prisoners of war. One of those prisoners was British Lieutenant Tom Wade. For the next three and a half years he was to suffer the indignity and hardships of captivity and the torture and brutality of his captors, first in Changi, then in Korea and finally in Tokyo.

This book is the story of those years in captivity. They were years of horror and despair, characterised by harsh treatment at the hands of sadistic guards who believed that a soldier who has surrendered has lost all humanity. At Tokyo Headquarters Camp in particular, Wade and his fellow POWs had to suffer the paranoid beatings and victimisation of Sergeant Matsuhiro Watanabe, who successfully avoided prosecution by the War Crimes Commission at the war's end.

Wade's moving account of his period of captivity is characterised by the sense of determination, hope and endurance which sustained all those who shared his experience.

07 June 2012

Film review: Six Days, Seven Nights (1998), by Ivan Reitman, ****


Big-screen favorite Harrison Ford stars in this nonstop adventure hit about a dream vacation that turns into a hilarious tropical nightmare! A gruff, rough-hewn cargo pilot living in the islands, Quinn Harris (Ford) hates tourists ... though he's not above making a fast buck from a sharp-tongued New Yorker, Robin Monroe (sexy Anne Heche), when she's desperate for a quick flight to Tahiti! But this already uneasy relationship suddenly takes a nosedive when his weather-beaten old plane is forced down in a storm! Now, stranded together on a deserted isle, Quinn and Robin quickly discover all the perils of paradise.

15 March 2012

Filw review: The Pacific (2012), by Carl Franklin and David Nutter. ***

recensione in italiano di seguito in questo post


This limited collector's Blu-ray edition includes a bonus 7th disc entitled "Inside the Battle: Peleliu."

The Pacific is an epic 10-part miniseries that delivers a portrait of WWII's Pacific Theatre as seen through the intertwined odysseys of three U.S. Marines - Robert Leckie, John Basilone and Eugene Sledge. The extraordinary experiences of these men and their fellow Marines take them from the first clash with the Japanese in the haunted jungles of Guadalcanal, through the impenetrable rain firests of Cape Gloucester, across the blasted coral strongholds of Peleliu, up the black sand terraces of Iwo Jima, through the killing fields of Okinawa, to the triumphant, yet uneasy, return home after V-J Day. The viewer will be immersed in combat through the intimate perspective of this diverse, relatable group of men pushed to the limit in battle both physically and psychologically against a relentless enemy unlike any encountered before

Inside the Battle: Peleliu: An exclusive look into the battle of Peleliu. Combining exclusive historian and veteran interviews with real footage from the battle of Peleliu, this featurette illustrates the massive undertaking of the battle for Peleliu in the Pacific theater of World War II.

John Basilone

05 January 2012

Film Review: Windtalkers, by John Woo, **

US Marine Nicolas Cage--with a scarred ear and a fed-up look--is given the job of looking after Navajo Adam Beach, whose complex language is the basis of a code being used to fool the Japanese in the Pacific during World War II. His orders are to protect not Beach but the code, (including orders to kill Beach if it looks like capture is imminent) which makes for an uneasy progress from hatred-at-first-sight through growing respect to agonised male bonding.

Recensione Film: Windtalkers, di John Woo, **

Durante la seconda guerra mondiale, l'esercito americano decide di usare il linguaggio degli indiani Navajos per codificare i messaggi segreti così da impedirne la decodifica da parte dei giapponesi. L'esercito giapponese a sua volta decide di catturare dei soldati Navajos per usarli come traduttori. Gli americani, venuti a conoscenza del fatto, assegnano ai Navajos dei marines come guardie del corpo, con l'ordine di ucciderli in caso di pericolo. Il film narra l'amicizia tra il soldato navajo Ben Yazzie e il sergente dei marines Joe Enders, che dovrà mettercela tutta per non far cadere il suo amico nelle mani dell'esercito nipponico evitando però la soluzione estrema.

21 December 2011

Film Review: Pacific Battleship Yamato (2010), by Junya Sato, ****


World War II action film set aboard the Battleship Yamato, the most fearsome ship in the Pacific fleet and still to date the largest warship ever built. Based on a book by Jun Henmi with a framing story set in the present day and through the use of flashbacks, Yamato tells the story of the crew of a WWII battleship, concentrating on the ship's demise during Operation Ten-Go.

20 December 2011

Film Review: Assault on the Pacific - Kamikaze (2007), by Taku Shinjo, ****

World War II epic about a squadron of Japanese Kamikaze pilots and their journey through training and first missions toward the terrifying destiny of their battle with the US Navy over the Pacific Ocean. It is essentially a backstage shoot, very little in terms of war action.

07 December 2011

Film Review: Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), by R Fleischer, T Masuda and K Fukusaku, *****


Today is the sixtieth anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. That is one reason to review a forty years old movie. Another is the publication of a stunning new Blu-ray edition. A Japanese-American co-production, director Richard Fleischer (Soylent Green) and two Japanese directors put together this ultrarealistic account of the bombing of Pearl Harbor as presented from the perspectives of both nations, as diplomatic tensions rise between the two countries. While the Japanese military plans its attack on American military installations, the American forces nearly stumble into a much greater calamity due to a series of errors and mistakes. As the two sides plunge closer to war, the tension escalates until the final, spectacular air raid, arguably the most realistic ever filmed.

27 July 2011

Book Review: First Shot - The Untold Story of Japanese Minisubs That Attacked Pearl Harbor, by John Craddock, ****

America’s first shot of World War II was fired by a worn-out World War I destroyer. An hour before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S.S. Ward hit its mark - a tiny but lethal Japanese submarine - but no one heeded the captain’s report. Before the morning was out, more than 2,400 people were dead, thousands more were wounded, and more than 100 American warships were destroyed or crippled. What became of the Ward’s message?

12 March 2011

Recensione: Samurai!, di Saburo Sakai, ****

Saburo Sakai

Con il suo "record" di 64 abbattimenti ufficiali, Saburo Sakai è considerato uno degli assi dell'aviazione da caccia moderna. Sottoufficiale dell'aviazione della Marina, a bordo del suo leggendario Zero, uno degli apparecchi più micidiali che abbiano mai solcato i cieli, compì una serie di straordinarie imprese per eroismo, talento di volo, intelligenza tattica, ma anche per generosità e altruismo.

La sua storia trasporta i lettori nel suo ambiente familiare e negli anni del durissimo addestramento, per condurli poi nei cieli della Manciuria, dove Sakai combatté dal 1938 al 1941 contro i cinesi, e sul Pacifico, dove l'"ultimo dei Samurai" duellò fino al 1945 con i piloti americani, diventando una leggenda vivente e sopravvivendo al suo destino.

22 April 2010

Book Review: Sailing Around the World, by Lizzi Eordegh and Carlo Auriemma, *****

In 1993, Elisabetta Eordegh and Carlo Auriemma set sail aboard the specially designed Barca Pulita (which translates, literally, as "clean boat") to circumnavigate the world in an attempt to chronicle the last unspoiled natural sites on earth via a journey that made as little impact as possible on the earth and sea. A 44-foot ketch, the boat was equipped with state-of-the-art equipment that made the most of "green" technology, from the clean conversion of energy to the use of special non-toxic varnish...

Recensione: In barca a vela intorno al mondo, di C. Auriemma e L. Eordegh, *****

Le foto di questo volume documentano le avventure di Elizabetta Eordegh e Carlo Auriemma. Coraggiosamente, alla fine degli anni '80 gli autori decidono di tagliare con la routine e la vita regolare per perdersi in barca a vela negli spazi infiniti degli oceani, a contatto con persone, culture e tradizioni di cui prima ignoravano perfino l'esistenza.

26 September 2007

Recensione libro: Una ballata del mare salato (1967), di Hugo Pratt, *****


Novembre 1913, in tutto il mondo si sente aria di guerra a causa dell'imminente conflitto mondiale; Rasputin nel suo catamarano si dedica alla pirateria e durante un assalto fa prigionieri un ragazzo di nome Cain e una ragazza di nome Pandora, entrambi di buona famiglia, con l'intenzione di chiedere un riscatto.

Durante la navigazione incontra Corto Maltese, legato ad una zattera a causa di un ammutinamento di cui è stato vittima. Rasputin accoglie controvoglia Corto sulla sua imbarcazione e Corto ricambia collaborando con Rasputin nell'assalto ad una nave olandese che trasporta carbone, i due tuttavia vengono a lite quando Corto esprime il proprio disappunto davanti all'uccisione a sangue freddo del capitano della nave da parte di Rasputin.

L'intento dei due pirati è rivendere il carbone ai tedeschi, tuttavia per evitare complicazioni i due decidono di portare i due sequestrati fuori dalla vista dei tedeschi. Durante un fortunale il catamarano di Rasputin con a bordo Corto e i due ostaggi va a fondo e i ragazzi vengono catturati da una tribù di indigeni.

Corto e i due ragazzi rischieranno più volte la vita e vivranno diverse avventure per cercare di salvarsi. (da Wikipedia)

22 September 2007

Book review: Queen Salote of Tonga (1999), by Elizabeth Wood-Ellem, *****


This is an extensive biography of Queen Salote of Tonga. It is also a political and social history of the kingdom of Tonga between the years of 1900 and 1965. Researched over more than 20 years and written with the consent of the Tongan royal family, this book draws on the author's knowledge of Tongan society especially the role of rank, status and the complex marriage and kinship relations among the leading families. It is an in depth account of Queen Salote's skills in building and maintaining the loyalty of her people and the instability of the kingdom and in overcoming resistance both within and without Tonga. It is also a perceptive portrayal about individual personality, and gives a picture of ordinary people and daily people.

03 August 2007

Itinerario del viaggio a Tonga 4-29 Agosto 2007


Viaggio a TONGA 2007
Itinerario (clicca su una data per post dettagliato)

programma giornaliero
Venice Inn

Vava’u (Foe’ata)
Blue Lagoon
Vava’u (F)
Vava'u (F)
Vava’u (F)
Vava’u (F)
Vava’u (Mala island)
Mala Island resort
Vava’u (M)
Vava’u (M)
Pau hotel
Ha’apai – ‘Uiha
'Esi 'O Ma'afu
(in famiglia)
H (‘U)
H (‘U)
H – Foa
Sandy Beach
H (F)
H (F)
H (F)
Waterfront Lodge
In volo