Black Rain: Reflections on Hiroshima and Nuclear War in Japanese Film
In the literature on atomic bomb themes in Japanese cinema we find a number of trends. Some films, but surprisingly few, are intended as open social protest of America’s use of the bombs. There are some critics who see the bombings as the key stimulus to a film genre, including the works of Ozu and others, concerned with rapid post-war social transformations and all their related spiritual costs. There are still others who see the science-fiction genre, especially the Godzilla films, as the main cinematic legacy of the bombings and find in this genre, and its natural extension into anime films, deep insights into transformations in Japanese attitudes and social relations. Finally, there are films which perceive in the experience of Hiroshima and Nagasaki indications of broader spiritual and social dynamics with very real, apocalyptic potential. It is films in this last general category that I want to consider here, since they evoke a cautionary attitude that best suits the spirit of Hiroshima and which it is especially important to encourage in our students, given America’s growing emphasis on aggressive foreign policy and technological war-making.
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- Robert Feleppa