Directed by James Erskine
Network: History Channel
Yesterday marked 75 years since the bombing of Hiroshima by the United States. Recollecting the war tactics, the exciting scientific discovery, and the genocidal devastation it caused, Hiroshima: 75 Years Later uses new footage and audio recordings from both the Japanese residents and the American military officials to expound on this piece of history in a way that’s simple to take in.
This documentary is filled with newly released footage captured mere days after the bombing (and of the bombing of Nagasaki days later), when these cities was near completely annihilated and the deadly radiation was still looming in the air. This footage really sinks in the reality of this great tragedy, showing the city-wide enormity of the attack. Even more horrifying is the new footage of the make-shift hospitals, showing the burn victims being treated for their wounds, despite the lack of knowledge about the effects of radiation.
But at only 78 minutes, this documentary can’t grasp the total event – the ethical and political concerns over it, before and after these bombings. The context of the US’s and Japan’s involvement in the tail-end of World War 2 is pretty much non-existent here, removing the many reasons the US chose Japan as its target. Even though this is an American production, this documentary is too short to get into the details that had the whole world on edge, yet this documentary almost feels as if there wasn’t a world war happening at all.
Overall, 75 Years Later is a concise summary of this historical atrocity that paces itself through the bomb’s development, its usage, and its horrific aftermath. What’s missing is the historical context, of what pressured the US so much to devise a weapon, all the circumstances that lead to them deciding to bomb Japan, and the growing concerns of nuclear warfare that plagued the next few decades. A more comprehensive (and perhaps even longer) documentary on Japan’s bombings is likely out there, but this documentary stands out because of the starkness in which it shows this part of warfare history, especially because of the revealing new footage.