Monday, May 14, 2018

FILM ABOUT HIROSHIMA: On Tanabe's "Message from Hiroshima"

Film series on Hiroshima on Filmstruck

There are five films related to Hiroshima featured on Filmstruck right now:

Children of Hiroshima (Kaneto Shindo, 1952)

Hiroshima (Hideo Sekigawa, 1953)

Hiroshima mon amour (Alain Resnais, 1959)

Hellfire - Journey from Hiroshima (Michael Camerini, 1986)

Message from Hiroshima (Masaaki Tanabe, 2015)

I've raised the importance of lifting up the experience of Hiroshima (see list of links below) and it's worth emphasizing it again. I've decided to post some brief notes on each of these films (plus one additional film, I Live in Fear (Akira Kurosawa, 1955), also available on Filmstruck) to my blog. Today I'm starting with Message from Hiroshima.

Filmmaker Masaaki Tanabe as a little boy.
(Image from "Remembering Hiroshima Through Cinema".)

Message from Hiroshima

Having recently visited Hiroshima, and walked around the exact ground featured in Masaaki Tanabe's Message from Hiroshima, I was deeply impressed by his film concept and how Tanabe carried it out.

Tanabe's concept is to encourage the viewer to connect to the people living in the neighborhood around the epicenter of the bomb -- as people. To do this, he combines testimony of survivors, old family photographs, footage of the places as they appear today, and computer simulations of the neighborhoods before the bomb struck.

What Tanabe has done here is so important -- getting beyond the well-known photographs of the destroyed buildings of Hiroshima, and the statistics, and enabling us to think of the individual victims as they lived their lives.

A shoe store . . . a temple . . . people playing and fishing in the river . . . games of hide-and-seek around the big ginkgo tree . . . women shopping for kimonos . . . and wigs . . .

I thought of having a meal with people in Hiroshima at an oyster boat restaurant on the river . . .

I imagined myself weaving through alleys full of children playing marbles and menko cards . . .

 . . . past the barber shop . . . the movie theater . . . the seafood store selling clams and seaweed and dried bonito . . . the public bath that stayed open until midnight so the shop owners could visit after they closed for the night . . . the mom-and-pop candy store (the one that sold the model airplanes).

After an hour watching the film and listening to George Takei's narration, I have a much more powerful sense of what one of the speakers means when he says, "Many souls of the dead call out, "I'm here!'"

(Watch trailer for Message from Hiroshima.)

(Read more about Message from Hiroshima: "Remembering Hiroshima Through Cinema" on the Golden Globes website.)

Additional posts in this series

The Marukis' Antiwar Paintings: A Lesson in Collaboration

Are We All "Children of Hiroshima"?

"Hiroshima Mon Amour" and the Horror of Forgetting

Nuclear Danger: Three Ways of Talking About the Unmentionable

Additional links to related posts

The Fire and Blast of Hiroshima: Why Are We Still Hiding It?

Can We Confront the Fire and Blast of Nuclear War and Still Remain Human? (Watching "Grave of the Fireflies")

"People Will Find the Way to Eliminate Nuclear Injury"

An extensive list of resources on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on this AFSC event page.

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