Behind Forgotten Eyes (2007) – By Josh Samford

 As someone who has always been interested in World War II, and especially the role the Japanese had to play, I felt fortunate when we were contacted about reviewing Behind Forgotten Eyes. Being a documentary focusing on several issues that seem important to me, I was excited to get my hands on it. Unfortunately due to the postal system I finally received it about a month late due to my address having changed (and I suppose it was the one package where they forgot to forward it to my new address!). I had only read the basic outline of the film before popping it in the DVD player; but to say BFE was a shock would be an understatement. Behind Forgotten Eyes tells the stories of what the Japanese labeled "comfort women". These were young women from all over Asia during the Japanese colonization time leading up to and during WWII. Women from Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines were placed in camps and used as prostitutes for the troops. Often times serving up to 10 or 15 men a day.

The Japanese were known during the war to be quite possibly the most brutal of all waring countries, especially in their treatment of POW’s, at the time. You were far more likely to survive being captured by the Germans during the period than the Japanese. The horror stories from captured US soldiers within the Philippines, such as those force to walk the Bataan death march, make for some of the most horrifying POW stories I myself have ever heard. What makes BFE so amazing though isn’t just the tales told by the comfort women who were forced to endure sexual slavery and the complete and utter horror that unfortunately they still live with to this day – but what is truly amazing are the stories told by actual Japanese men from the other side of the story. These men tell their own horror stories, of their own brutality and express their own horrors that unfortunately lived within them at one time. This throws a completely different dimension to what otherwise would have been an ‘interesting’ film and for me made it something truly amazing.

The haunting score and the use of several animated scenes to express the stories of so many women from this time period who were forced into a lifestyle of someone else’s choosing… Behind Forgotten Eyes is simply a must see for all people, because hopefully then these women can at least be dealt the apology they are so rightly owed. Definitely one of the best documentaries I have seen in a very long time, and I know I will be haunted by the atrocities that these poor women were forced to endure so long ago. I hope more people will go out and pick this film up, and I sincerely hope that some form of justice will be declared in their name.