Arrow Academy: Hiroshima (1953) - Reviewed

Hideo Sekigawa's film Hiroshima (1953) is a straightforward and clinical look at the bombing and its aftereffects but no less harrowing or emotional. It is based on the 1951 book Children Of The A Bomb: Testament Of The Boys And Girls Of Hiroshima by Dr. Arata Osada. The film starts several years after the bombing, in a school classroom. The event is still a fresh horror, but some semblance of normal life has returned. 

However, many of the children are stricken with the effects of radiation sickness (or burn scars) and are ostracized as a result. Initially, doctors and specialists were not aware of the dangers and long lasting effects of radiation poisoning and were not equipped to treat it. The Japanese government was also slow in acknowledging the magnitude of the problem and citizens who tried to get help were seen as whiners or detriments to society. These unfortunate souls were known as hibakusha which loosely translates to "person affected by the bomb". Information about the specifics of both the bomb and the long term effects of radiation poisoning were scarce after the war thanks to the American occupation of Japan and the censorship of information that occurred. 

Next, the time period shifts to Hiroshima right before the bomb is dropped. We get to see everyone going about their day-to-day lives. When the bomb hit, there was no air-raid siren so everyone was completely blindsided by it. The atomic payload is dropped and suddenly the idyllic area is turned into a literal hellscape. Buildings are blown down, fires are raging everywhere, people are horrifically burned and nobody has any idea what is going on. It's absolutely heart wrenching to watch this destruction of human life. 

There are lines of burned wraiths walking slowly out of the city, hands outstretched in front of them trying to escape an incomprehensible horror. One of the most poignant scenes is a teacher, herself badly injured, leading her children to a river (which unbeknownst to her is filled with radiation) to slake their thirst and cool their wounds. As they slowly wade into the river they all die, their bodies carried away by the streaming water like so much debris. All this death...for what?!

Akira Ifukube composed the music one year before his iconic score for Godzilla (1954) and it is haunting--a funeral dirge for the senseless loss of life. This is one of those films that everyone should see so that we can perhaps prevent something like this from ever happening again.


High Definition Blu-ray™ (1080p) presentation

Original uncompressed audio

Archive interview with actress Yumeji Tsukioka

Hiroshima Nagasaki Download (2011), 73-minute documentary featuring interviews with survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings now residing in the United States, with an introduction by the director Shinpei Takeda

New video essay by Jasper Sharp

Newly commissioned artwork by Scott Saslow

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Mick Broderick

--Michelle Kisner