Today is the 69th anniversary of the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima. We visited there two years ago with our son who was teaching in Satsuma Sendai at the time. The many memorials and monuments to peace and nuclear non-proliferation were moving, powerful, plaintive, sometimes even hopeful, though the world itself seems not to have heeded their messages, not to have learned many lessons regarding the value of human life and humanity.
I came across the movie, Children of Hiroshima, Gembaku no ko (1952), the third movie of director Kaneto Shindo, which was the first movie made after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima which actually dealt with the devastation of the atomic bomb (because American censorship had ended on April 28, 1952). The movie itself was commissioned by the Japanese Teachers Union (established in 1947) and is based on the novel by Arata Osada, itself based on personal accounts of survivors of the bombing. The movie was filmed in Hiroshima so has a very convincing feel of a documentary. Though there are definitely parts of this movie that are clearly very sentimental, it is an understandably poignant look at post-war Japan through the lives of survivors and from a Japanese point of view. The movie was first released here in the U.S. just two years ago (2012) when the Brooklyn Academy held a retrospective of Shindo’s films. (Shindo died a month later at 100 years old.) This film in Japan is considered one of Shindo’s most important (of the 48 films he directed and 238 films which he wrote).
Justified in the name of politics and power, the trauma we inflict on each other must end. Recognizing, honoring, valuing our mutual humanity is the work to which we must continue to commit. The magic of the internet has allowed me to post the film in its entirety below.