- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 25, 2002

Steven Spielberg continues his fascination with World War II with "Price for Peace," a vivid NBC documentary on the war's Pacific theater that airs Monday night on WRC-TV (Channel 4).

Mr. Spielberg and historian Stephen E. Ambrose are the executive producers of the two-hour film, which was directed by James Moll, whose 1998 Holocaust documentary "The Last Days" won an Oscar.

"Price for Peace" is the latest World War II-themed credit Mr. Spielberg can add to his resume, which also includes directing the films "Schindler's List" and "Saving Private Ryan" and producing the HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers."

He should be forgiven if his interest seems to border on the obsessive. Perhaps no other period in recent American history has yielded such a remarkable contrast between genuine heroism and human suffering.

It is a period of world history that should not be forgotten, which seems to be the purpose of "Price for Peace." The film doesn't necessarily break new ground even the casual World War II historian probably won't learn much new but it's worth reminding viewers of the Pacific theater's triumphs and tragedies.

Mr. Ambrose is a frequent on-screen presence in "Price for Peace," but the majority of the storytelling comes from interviews with the men who fought in the war and the women who supported them on the home front. It includes interviews with Japanese pilots and Japanese Americans who were in U.S. internment camps during the war.

All of the recollections are stirring but not overly sentimental. They are complemented by footage of the warfare, including some rare color images.

The most dramatic moment comes from Shigeaki Kinjo, an Okinawa civillian who recalls how Japanese propaganda led his countrymen to believe Americans would kill them if their island were invaded.

On the day of the U.S. invasion of Okinawa, Mr. Kinjo recalls how many Okinawans committed suicide to spare themselves from suffering at the hands of the invaders. Mr. Kinjo says he and his brother decided to kill their own mother and younger siblings rather than let them be harmed by the enemy.

It is a remarkable story. That it's being told through a translator does not minimize the impact in any way.

NBC has decided to tuck "Price for Peace" away on a holiday night, when few viewers may be home to watch it. How unfortunate.

Tom Brokaw, who introduces the film, says in his remarks that Americans should not forget the true meaning of Memorial Day. Don't worry, Mr. Brokaw. If viewers watch just a portion of "Price for Peace," they'll understand that Memorial Day isn't just for backyard barbecues.


WHAT: "Price for Peace"

WHEN: 8 p.m. Monday

WHERE: NBC (WRC-TV, Channel 4)


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