Americans should watch this film, especially those who pride themselves, as I, patriotic Americans. Now honestly this is not an A-Plus movie; it’s more like a B or B-Minus. Based on historian and activist, Howard Zinn’s Voices of a People’s History of the United States, it suffers the same faults. Both speak out against the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, an outrageous act which violated the rights of innocent Americans, but let’s place it in context of the time. The country had just been devastated by a crippling, near fatal attack and governments, like people, do stupid things when ruled by fear. So, Franklin Delano Roosevelt allowed for 110,000 American citizens of Japanese ancestry to be robbed of their property and interned.

Conditions in these camps were rough, but compare them to the camps of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Tojo had ordered the same for all British, American, Filipino Prisoners of War, as well as families of foreign nationalities in Japanese held territories. These POW’s, totaling some 350,000, were to be immediately executed when the invasion of Japan stated. Ovens, to depose of the bodies,had already been constructed when the atomic bomb ended the conflict.

There are stirring moments in this film: Sean Penn reading Kevin Tillman testimony before the committee, Christina Kirk and Viggo Mortensen reading the statement of Phyllis and Orlando whose son died in the 9-11 attacks, and David Strathairn invoking the condemnation of war by Admiral LaRocque. Plus the film offers what the book couldn’t; music by Pink and Neil Young.

Yes, the internment was wrong, but more despicable was this government dragging its feet until 1988 before officially apologizing and offering those interned compensation for their lost. The devil is in the details, they say, but so are the angels.

The closing, by Staceyann Chin, is a poem entitled The Low Road by Marge Piercy, and for that alone Americans should watch this film. Especially patriotic ones.

Extended version available on DVD and On Demand from online vendors or click here for more information on The People Speak Out.

Filmmaker: Howard Zinn, Anthony Arnove, Chris Moore

Cast includes: Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Morgan Freeman, Viggo Mortensen, Danny Glover, David Strathairn, Sean Penn, Marisa Tomei, Sandra Oh, Eddie Vedder, Ben Affleck, Casey Affleck, Benjamin Bratt, Jackson Browne, Don Cheadle
Rating: Not Rated

Year: 2009 (Originally airing on The History Channel)

Written by

An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. Kearney remains focused on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. His stage reviews and social essays can be found at and Follow him on Facebook.

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