An attempt to bring about an understanding of how the Japanese reacted to their humiliating defeat in WW II, MACARTHUR'S CHILDREN deals with the problem on a microcosmic level, concentrating on a small, remote island called Awaji Shima rather than on the whole country. Set in the days just

following the defeat, the film portrays events through the eyes of children, particularly Ryuta Ashigara (Takaya Yamauchi), a young boy whose father was killed in battle and who is being raised by his grandfather, the local police chief. Ryuta's best friend, the rebellious Saburo (Yoshiyuki

Omori), refuses to accept national dishonor and instead threatens to run away to become a gangster. Although the children cannot fully comprehend what has happened to their country, they see the changes in the people around them. Then come the Americans, bringing candy bars and gum, baseball, and

Glenn Miller. They easily win over the children but simultaneously litter Japanese culture with their own unconscious imperialism. As with fellow Japanese director Nagisa Oshima, Masahiro Shinoda's talents blossomed in the 1960s, his subjects pertaining chiefly to the passions of youth. Here,

Shinoda places these passions in a historical context and a highly westernized narrative style. Unfortunately, he comes up with a mannered film lacking the power one might expect from a depiction of the clash of pre- and postwar Japanese cultures. (In Japanese; English subtitles.)