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  • White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
    • White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
    • Runtime:86 min
    • Release Date:2017-01-22 09:09:42
    • Director: Steven Okazaki
    • Genres: Documentary
    • Studio:
MOVIE REVIEW:White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki


When I visited Hiroshima less than two months ago I thought that I knew
quite a lot about the the events at the end of the second world war in
the Pacific including the atomic bombs that were dropped upon Japan in
order to reach a faster end of the war. Nothing was however comparable
with seeing the destruction of Hiroshima at first hand in the Peace
Museum, as well as the impressing memorial monuments in the Hiroshima
Peace Park. Now comes this documentary by American-born Steven Okazaki
which complements the images and the information that I acquired during
my visit in Japan.

Let me say that it's one of the best historical and investigative
documentaries that I have seen in years, if not the best. There are
many direct witnesses that present the two sides of the event – the
Japanese survivors of the atomic bombardments in Hiroshima and
Nagasaki, who were most of them kids in 1945 and who carried for the
rest of their lives the physical pain in their flesh and the
psychological traumas in their souls, and the American crewmen who seem
to have gained awareness about the dimensions of the event they
participated in, but show almost no trace of guilt or remorse for their
actions. Some of the pictures taken immediately after the bombing which
some of them – it is said in the film – are being seen for the first
time in public are shocking and succeed to convey the intensity and
dimensions of the destruction and sufferings that were inflicted on the
civilian population of the two bombed cities.

Yet, it is the opening sequence that impressed me the most. It is
filmed today, in some big city of Japan. Young Japanese folks in the
teens or twenties are asked 'what historical event happened on August
6, 1945'. None of them knows the answer! Such films as 'White light,
Black Rain' can help however bring down completely the walls of silence
that still exist.


*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Well said, Dream_seeker. I saw this film when it originally aired on
HBO and it affected me profoundly. I watched it again today for the
second time and was just as moved. It is as gut-wrenching as any film I
have ever seen, fiction or non-fiction. It will make any grown man cry,
even a hardened one, as long as a heart beats within him. This is an
astounding piece of film-making and should be required viewing for high
school students all over the world.

{SPOILERS} Why? The common theme from every one of the survivors
interviewed is the same: Never again. As another reviewer noted, George
Santayana's observation that "Those who do not remember the past are
condemned to repeat it" couldn't be more apt here. Indeed, the first
scenes of interviews of young Japanese persons on the street drive home
this point right away as they reveal that they have indeed forgotten
and are clueless about the all-too-recent history of their elders. The
survivors and those who died as a result of the bombings suffered
horrors that should be unimaginable, but were and are still all too
real and painful. As one of the survivors noted, those emotionally and
physically painful experiences should end with them. No human beings
should ever have to face those horrors again.

This is mostly a Japanese production (just watch the credits). Despite
the obvious temptation to do so, the Japanese filmmakers deserve
tremendous credit for exercising grace and restraint by not engaging in
historical revisionism or anti-Americanism. They ensure the viewer sees
and hears the survivors of the atomic bombs almost universally placing
blame for their cities being bombed at the feet of the Japanese
government for starting the war and for keeping Japan in it long after
all hope for victory was lost. Some even became activists to petition
the Japanese government to own up to its role and grant them medical
and other benefits.

The filmmakers are so even-handed as to allow the surviving crew
members from the Enola Gay to express no regret for doing their duty,
without making them appear callous or cold. The filmmakers also portray
an officer from the crew warning young yahoos who might be hawkish
about nukes today that "nuking" someone is something no one should ever
have to do, or even contemplate ever doing again. There is a surreal
bit from the 1950s television show "This Is Your Life" in which a
captain from the Enola Gay appears and expresses regret and remorse to
a kind Japanese reverend on a humanitarian mission for women disfigured
by the atomic bombings. "My God, what have we done?" he tells the
reverend and the TV audience he thought after the crew flew away from
the flash, the mushroom cloud, and the devastated city below them.

One remarkable Japanese woman who was horribly disfigured by the bomb
even shares that when she saw him on TV, she cried for the American
captain from the Enola Gay because of the enormous guilt he obviously
bore when he appeared on "This Is Your Life." I found it very moving
and admirable that after everything she endured, that gentle woman
still possessed the humanity, grace, and compassion to feel for one of
the Americans who took part in causing all that death, despair, and
destruction. She cried not for herself and her own painful experiences,
but for him instead. Wow.

Despite all the sadness and horror portrayed in this film, there is a
ray of light in the humanity and dignity the survivors display. They
were each very brave to bare their tremendously personal and private
pain in a film for public consumption, but none of them asked for pity,
and none of them stood on a political soapbox. The only message they
wanted to convey was simple and selfless. Never again. {END SPOILERS}

The filmmakers have made a film that not only is impossible to forget,
but one which does the whole human race a public service as well. They
have portrayed in a way as honest and unvarnished as possible just how
horrific is the reality of the personal costs of using nuclear weapons.
Let us hope we listen to the survivors and remember their cautionary
tales. Never again.


*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Around August in 1945 was a day that changed not just two towns in
japan but the world as well; what caused after that set up a lot of
tragedy as well as a lot of fears for the future one that even Einstein
and Oppenheimer feared the worst.

"White light/Black rain" is another Strong, thought provoked, Gritty
journey into the nature of man. As a African-American man that actually
had a chance to visit the Nagasaki Peace Memorial park it did bring a
lot to me to actually walk the park itself and try to hold in some
emotion and not cry in the process. But seeing the Documentary I had to
let it out and this is a man saying that i cried for their generations
beforehand that went thru the experience and the lives and families
they have lost…the images throughout the film will have anyone that
watch this give some emotion one way or another; the part that got to
me was one of the survivors that watched her sister jump in front of
the train due to radiation poisoning and her reaction when she tried to
argue with an American solider who couldn't understand her but just
smiled…it made a person like me angry at that though.

Around 140,000 people and an additional 70,000 died in the wake of this
as well as the aftermath that would make the events of 9/11 feel like a
cakewalk in comparison; its a strong realization of how human nature
reaches a boiling point and set off a chain that will change the
future…if anything this film is very thought provoked and will have
anyone that view it either weep, or think and i recommend this film to
anyone that wants to see a dark side of history that this generation is
seeming to forget slowly but surely.

10/10- For a lot of powerful and scary images that will hit your senses
in one way or another and the survivors and there stories from
different points of view but all fall into the same fate, its a story
that needs to be told but its also a story that every human needs to
learn from.


*** This review may contain spoilers ***

For intelligent people this film is a solid "ten" but I crave that
films should be more outspoken. I'm just seeing the "This is your
life"-part of this documentary, in which a survivor is invited to an
American talk-show and made to shake hands with the pilot who dropped
the bomb on Hiroshima. The talk-master is careful to point out how 20
girls from Hiroshima are receiving plastic surgery in the US without
having to pay for it and he also makes the pilot understand that he was
on a military mission and that that excuses everything. That part of
the documentary is so revealing that it makes you stomach turn and you
suddenly understand a lot about the US. As we have witnessed in the
documentary before, Japan was already loosing the war and everybody
knew it, especially the Jap people who had no shoes and nothing much
else. One bomb would have been more than enough and it wouldn't have to
have been such a big one. But 2 bombs? What can I say? The American
people have a big cross to carry and I hope they do something about
their situation because if justice is ever done without them (and how
can we be absolutely sure that there is no God, who sees all this?),
their future does not look too bright.

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