This week marks the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 – the event that mobilized America to enter World War II. In recognition, the latest Indiewire-curated selections on Hulu’s Documentaries page look back on that “date which will live in infamy” and the combat that followed on both the Pacific and European fronts.
In “The Secret Sub Attack on Pearl Harbor,” part of the “Pure History” series, scientists locate a Japanese midget submarine more than sixty years after the attack, submerged nearby. Their investigation presents intriguing evidence about its ill-fated role in the history-changing event.
Operation Downfall is the subject of “Japan: The Invasion That Never Was,” part of the “Secrets of War” series. Late in the war, working from the assumption that the war in Europe would soon be ending, the US developed a plan to end the Pacific fighting through a strategic and devastating invasion of Hirohito’s Japan, bookending Japan’s attack on American soil that brought the country into WWII.
Speaking of downfalls, “The Rise and Fall of Adolph Hitler,” part of the “WWII: History Remembered” series, goes to the European theatre for a brief exploration of the ambitions and ultimate failure of Germany’s Chancellor to oversee his Thousand Year Reich.
Part of Hitler’s world plan, of course, was “The Final Solution” – the endgame of the Nazi’s systematic scapegoating of the Jewish people: total extermination. After occupying Denmark, he ordered the arrest and deportation of Denmark’s Jews, with their ultimate fate in the death camps. Instead, as revealed in Karen Cantor and Camilla Kjaerulff’s “The Danish Solution,” ordinary citizens worked clandestinely with the Danish resistance to save over 99% of the country’s Jewish population by evacuating them to neutral Sweden.
A consideration of WWII wouldn’t be complete without an acknowledgement of America’s fighting forces. In the European theatre, the US Army’s 95th Infantry Division successfully fought back against repeated attacks in their liberation and protection of the French town of Metz, as recounted in “The 95th: The Iron Men of Metz.” Davidson Cole’s film details the heroism and valor shown by the “Iron Men,” and follows surviving veterans back to the battlefield more than half a century later.
Returning once again to WWII’s Pacific theatre, director Steven C Barber follows another veteran, Leon Cooper in his “Return to Tarawa.” Drawn back to the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the war, which he took part in more than six decades ago, Cooper is outraged to discover that the hallowed ground has long since been neglected, and sets out to restore this landmark to America’s fallen soldiers.
EDITOR’S NOTE: “Indiewire @ Hulu Docs” is a regular column spotlighting the Iw-curated selections on Hulu’s Documentaries page, a unique collaboration between the two sites. Indiewire selections typically appear in the carousel at the top of the page and under “Featured Content” in the center. Be sure to check out the great non-fiction projects available to watch free of charge. Disclosure: Some of the selections are titles provided to Hulu by SnagFilms, the parent company of Indiewire.
ABOUT THE WRITER: Basil Tsiokos is a Programming Associate, Documentary Features for Sundance and a consultant to documentary filmmakers and festivals. Follow him on Twitter (@1basil1) and visit his blog (what (not) to doc).