Akira Iwasaki

Akira Iwasaki (岩崎昶, Iwasaki Akira) (18 November 1903 – 16 September 1981) was a prominent left-wing Japanese film critic, historian, and producer. Born in Tokyo, he became interested in film from his student days at Tokyo University. He became involved in Marxist politics and established a career promoting progressive cinema and criticism. He was also involved in film production, first serving from the late 1920s as a central member of the Proletarian Film League of Japan (Prokino) but also as a filmmaker.

After Japan’s defeat in World War II, Iwasaki was active in criticizing those who participated in the war effort. He joined Nihon Eigasha (Nichiei), primarily a documentary film company, and helped produce two important, but ill-fated documentaries: The Effects of the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which was confiscated by Occupation authorities, and The Japanese Tragedy, directed by Fumio Kamei, which was banned for its critical depiction of Emperor Hirohito.

This film is derived from footage taken by Japanese filmmaker Akira Iwasaki and produced by the U.S. Department of War in 1946. Much of the material in the film was originally part of a somewhat triumphant, official government film released as ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ (Hiroshima and Nagasaki). In 1968, visionary filmmaker Eric Barnouw learned (via a letter from environmental activist Lucy Lemann) that a great deal of the footage in that movie was shot by a Japanese filmmaker Akira Iwasaki. In fact, Iwasaki visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki immediately after the attack, and filmed much of the immediate aftermath. His footage remained hidden from view for decades, however, as it could prove politically damaging to the U.S. – Japanese alliance (and for other reasons). After a great deal of work, Barnouw managed to obtain the suppressed footage from the National Archives and then created this short film with Paul Ronder. It remains one of the most chilling documents from the atomic bombings.

The film begins with the Trinity Test in New Mexico and then shows viewers the devastation following the bombing. On August 6th, 1945 the atomic bomb was dropped over Hiroshima by the pilots of the US AF’s 598 group (:56). Smoke clouds spill out as the bomb is dropped (1:03). Devastation followed as bombed out buildings (1:25) are captured with debris blanketing the foreground. Within nine seconds, 100,000 were killed (1:41) with a 100,000 more injured. The city caught fire leaving blackened soot marks all over the ruins (1:47). Hiroshima was covered in black smoke. Later, black rain fell from the sky (2:00). A survivor’s story is heard over footage of the innards of a mangled building (2:20). Building frames are captured in a twisted pile (2:43). Permanent markings like shadows on wood are seen left from the light from the bomb’s explosion (4:05). Civilians ride a bus moving through the wasted land (4:38). Other survivors move with their belongings towards relocation (4:44). Dead and wounded are loaded into stretchers as many continued to drop dead long after the explosion (4:48). Medics tend to the wounded in hospitals (5:05). Half the doctors in Hiroshima on the first day were killed (5:19). Daily, 2,000 perished (5:29). A bald patch is viewed on the back of a patient receiving an exam (5:33). A young girl wears an eye patch over her eye (5:37) and the burns of another young girl are treated (5:43). Medicine is delivered by teaspoon into patient’s mouths (6:04). The hospital grounds are littered with sleeping bodies (6:18). Another mushroom cloud billows upwards (7:06) as Nagasaki was then hit three days later on August 9th, 1945. The bones of trees poke up from the ground following the explosion (7:37) as 50,000 died within the first seconds. The Oura Catholic Cathedral and it’s blackened statues are viewed (8:07). The ruins of the Mitsubishi factory follow (8:27). 6,200 were killed or injured here (8:32). A medical college which had been 600 yards from the center (8:46) follows. The Nagasaki penitentiary was located 300 yards from the center (9:02). Trolley cars were blown from their tracks (9:28). A spine is seen in the ground among other skeletal remains (9:36). Some of the women were left with patterns from their kimonos seared onto their skins (9:57). A victim has their wounds treated (10:06). Five days after the bombing of Nagasaki, the war ended. Reports tell of wounds reopening wider on victims on the twelfth day (10:20). Reports also included hair loss and purpling of the gums and skin (11:01). Some of the victims’ skin would peel off with gentle touch (11:04). Those suffering from radiation sickness were quarantined (11:19). Vegetation began to grow in the cities on the 20th day stimulated by atomic radiation (12:21). This caused a strange effect of civilians dying from radiation while the city became blanketed in flowers. Mushroom clouds from the explosion (14:20) after the atomic tests viewed by Robert Oppenheimer follow (14:26). Oppenheimer; one of the inventors of the atomic bomb, is heard (14:33) in 1945. The film begins to wrap up with a warning towards the testing of nuclear bombs (15:16).

This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD. For more information visit http://www.PeriscopeFilm.com