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Released by the U.S. War Department during the occupation of Japan, this film is the first reel (only) of the feature film "Prayer at Dawn: Ballad of a Military Expedition of the Favourite Horse. This film was originally released in 1940 during the Showa era. It was directed by Yasushi Sasaki and stars Kinuyo Tanaka and others. The story is centered on a war horse, and depicts a soldier who is on the front lines in China and his wife on the “home front”. The film was created under the guidance and support of the Ministry of War, Horse Administration Division (whose chief was then Tadamichi Kuribayashi, or "Cavalry Captain Kuribayashi” as credited). The film was produced in order to raise awareness and interest in the military and in particular war horses. Apparently, Kuribayashi was personally interested in the movie, mobilizing combat units for filming and appearing on location himself. (Kuribayashi is best known for having been the overall commander of the Japanese garrison during the Battle of Iwo Jima.)
The theme song "Prayer at Dawn" became rather famous, as did another song, "Favorite Horse's Bride's Song" (lyrics: Yaso Saijo, composition: Tadashi Manjome, song: Miss Colombia, Hamako Watanabe, Akiko Kikuchi) Akiko). The "Favorite Horse's Assault Song" also debuted in the film, sung by Hisao Ito, credited as the "Singing Soldier".
The poems and songs in the film portray the thoughts of the horse soldiers and feelings of nostalgia, with the lyrics partly based on the victories achieved in the Russo-Japanese war. The records affiliated with the film became big hits. An analysis of the lyrics of the theme song and the "Song at the Bivouac", reveals that they are both actually "anti-war songs" about leaving family behind as a result of wartime service. This is perhaps the reason that the U.S. military administration of Japan felt the film was worthy of re-release in the post-war period. The songs remain well loved by the wartime generation of Japanese.
Synopsis:Chiyo is a rancher's daughter, and her mother Shige recommended her to marry Fuyuki, a cowboy foreman, but she fell in love with Shinkichi in the village and married Shinkichi. Therefore, Shige cut the ties between Chiyo and his parents. One day Shinkichi decides to go on the road, and Fuyuki, who is also Shinkichi's best friend, persuades Chiyo to forgive him, but Shige does not agree.
Eventually, the horse Taro, who was raised by Shinkichi and Chiyo, will be requisitioned by the army, but at the same time, a draft letter will come to Fuyuki. Fuyuki, a cavalry sergeant, talks to the captain to make Taro his own horse and goes to the continent (Invasion of China). Fuyuki, who was given Taro, learned that Shinkichi's troops were nearby and went to see him, but Shinkichi had just died in the battle the day before.
The news of Shinkichi's death in the war reaches the inland, and Shige goes to his wife to bring his daughter back, but Chiyo tells his mother that he will continue to be Shinkichi's wife for the rest of his life. Shige finally knows her daughter's sincerity, breaks the ties, and apologizes to her. On the continent, Fuyuki, who holds the remains of Shinkichi, straddles Taro's back and marches towards the military fortress.
Some of the interesting military footage shown in the film includes: Japanese bomber aircraft (15:23) bombing a Chinese city, Japanese tanks on the move (17:48), Japanese Imperial Army Infantry (18:39), Japanese cavalry troops (22:30), Japanese infantry marching in the rain (25:40).
This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD, 2k and 4k. For more information visit http://www.PeriscopeFilm.com