This two-part documentary tells the story of the brutal World War II campaign fought between Australia and Japan in the green hell of the mountains of Papua New Guinea.
Told from both the Japanese and Australian perspectives the series also explores the impact of the decisions of high command on the soldiers at the front line.
Kokoda delves behind the myths of war to tell the story from both sides of the conflict, giving an authentic and comprehensive account of the desperate confusion of war, the intricate connections between the frontline soldiers and military high command, and the political agendas that influenced the campaign and continue to percolate through contemporary Australian society.
To tell the story with authenticity, the Kokoda film crew walked and filmed the length of the Kokoda Track, capturing for the first time the visceral nature of the terrain and the Owen Stanley Mountains.
The series follows in the footsteps of Australia’s ill-equipped and poorly trained conscripts, the ‘chocolate soldiers’ and the battled hardened troops of the Australian Imperial Forces, walking the treacherous 98-kilometre jungle trail from Port Moresby to Kokoda, then on to the blood-stained battlegrounds of Gona, Buna and Sanananda.
The documentary includes interviews with Australian and Japanese veterans and historians, letters to loved ones, previously unpublished documents, archival footage, footage from the track and dramatisations in Australia and Papua New Guinea. The diaries of embedded war correspondents Okada Seizo and Chester Wilmot paint an intimate portrait of how soldiers on both sides felt during the battles.
Kokoda introduces the key commanders, including controversial American General Douglas MacArthur, Australia’s General Sir Thomas Blamey, and Japanese Commander Tomitaro Horii, for whom defeat in a campaign that had cost thousands of Japanese lives, was intolerable.
Kokoda examines the Australian public’s response to military campaigns – both then and now – and the myths that they engender.