[FoRK] [WaPo] post-bomb footage from 1945 (16mm, color)

Justin Mason jm
Mon Aug 8 14:02:05 PDT 2005


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Rohit Khare writes:
> [we need a del.icio.us for TiVo :) -- not to make light of it, but to  
> suggest that I'd rather have had my TiVo record, on spec, the stuff  
> my friends watch rather than just what I (forget) to program it...]

While the BitTorrent aggregator sites were not being DMCA'd, they provided
this functionality quite well -- I picked up the 3 episodes of "The Power
of Nightmares" that way.  No more, though; isohunt and TorrentSpy have no
hits for "Original Child Bomb".

Google did throw up this Mefi discussion:
http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/43958 .  However, it quickly veers off into
"did!", "did not!", Nanking, etc. -- as one commenter notes:

  This shit is like Godwin, every single time you mention atom bombs and
  Japan you set off a near nuclear explosion of countering arguments. This
  is nothing. Wait until Darth Cheney gets his wish to nuke Iran.

- --j.

> http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/05/ 
> AR2005080501648_pf.html
> 
> Hiroshima and Nagasaki, The Original Ground Zero
> Cable Documentary Shows Rare Film of the Days After Aug. 6, 1945
> By Neely Tucker
> Washington Post Staff Writer
> Saturday, August 6, 2005; C01
> 
> In the National Archives in College Park, the reels are numbered  
> 11002 and 11003.
> 
> Shot by a U.S. Army Air Forces film crew in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in  
> the months after the atomic bombs were dropped, the reels go from one  
> deformed survivor to the next. Women with scalded faces. A man with  
> melted ears. A boy with no skin on his back. A man with such horrific  
> wounds his hands appear to be leprous.
> 
> The footage was immediately classified as "top secret" by the  
> military and hidden for nearly three decades.
> 
> Images from "the 11000 series," as archivists refer to the 30 hours  
> of footage shot by the crew of Lt. Col. Daniel A. McGovern, make a  
> rare public appearance on television tonight, the 60th anniversary of  
> the Hiroshima bombing. The footage, shot in hospitals and across  
> Japan, forms the bulk of the postwar scenes in "Original Child Bomb,"  
> an hour-long film on cable's Sundance Channel. The documentary,  
> drawing its title and antiwar message from a Thomas Merton poem about  
> the A-bomb, debuts at 8 p.m. and repeats throughout the month.
> 
> "There are still parts of it I don't want to look at," says Holly  
> Becker, the show's producer. "Certainly we didn't use the worst of  
> what's possible there. . . . But the whole point of the film, of  
> course, is to document the human cost of nuclear war."
> 
> The footage is most startling at first because it's in color --  
> unusual for 1945 -- and because of its rarity. Filmed images from  
> Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the days after the bombings (Nagasaki was  
> hit Aug. 9) are almost nonexistent. The sky is a lovely blue. The  
> knoblike mountains around town are a delicious green. In the  
> destroyed zones, the valley where Nagasaki lay, the trees are  
> leafless and shorn off. Everything appears a lifeless brown, just  
> dirt, concrete and rubble. Factories are reduced to nests of  
> collapsed steel girders. There are wide shots of sections of town,  
> where everything is just gone.
> 
> Later on the film, when a trolley car jammed with people trundles  
> past the camera, the instinct is to jump, to suddenly realize that,  
> in the aftermath of the most destructive force ever unleashed, cable  
> cars in outlying parts of town kept working. People woke up, got  
> dressed, went to some sort of work each day. Life, horrid as it was,  
> went on.
> 
> In fact, hour after hour, as the military filmmakers traveled across  
> Japan to capture images of sumo wrestlers, children playing, open-air  
> markets doing business, a family eating a formal dinner at home, you  
> have to keep reminding yourself that this is post- A-bomb Japan. It  
> looks so normal that in "Original Child Bomb," filmmakers used the  
> postwar footage to depict the pre -bomb days.
> 
> "Portions are almost artful," says Greg Mitchell, the editor of the  
> trade publication Editor & Publisher and author of "Hiroshima in  
> America," who wrote about the history of the footage earlier this  
> week in his magazine. "The camera people had come out of Hollywood  
> studios. They had a film sense."
> 
> This weekend, there will be major ceremonies to mark the anniversary  
> of the bombings the world over. Candlelight vigils, marches, news  
> conferences are planned. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists  
> devoted its cover to the question "Would You Have Dropped the Bomb?"
> 
> To supporters, President Harry S. Truman hastened the end of a  
> horrific war -- more than 50 million people died worldwide in six  
> years -- by using the bomb to pacify a nation that had attacked Pearl  
> Harbor, shown no mercy in the Bataan death march and committed any  
> number of atrocities against the Chinese.
> 
> To peace activists, using a weapon that killed about 115,000  
> civilians almost instantly and tens of thousands more over the months  
> that followed was an unconscionable war crime.
> 
> Almost lost in the debate is the footage, which remains one of the  
> clearest historical records of the bombings' aftermath.
> 
> After the footage was quietly declassified in 1973, bits of it were  
> used for the first time in the seminal 1974 British television  
> history series "The World at War," according to Mark Meader, archive  
> specialist in the motion picture division of the National Archives.  
> Portions showed up in Japanese documentaries, on anniversaries of the  
> bombings and in a 1983 U.S. documentary called "Dark Circle."
> 
> Then it would disappear again.
> 
> "It gets 'rediscovered' every decade or so," says Meader. "It's on 16- 
> millimeter film, which means it can't really be used at good quality  
> in large-screen motion pictures. . . . People hear it's been  
> classified, they don't remember hearing about it and they always  
> think it's never been seen before."
> 
> The irony of the footage today is this: Originally shot as propaganda  
> for the U.S. military, it is now used almost exclusively by people  
> opposed to nuclear weapons and to the military.
> 
> McGovern was not surprised by this, he once told Mitchell.
> 
> "I always had the sense that people in the Atomic Energy Commission  
> were sorry we had dropped the bomb," Mitchell quotes McGovern as  
> saying years ago. "The Air Force -- it was also sorry. I was told by  
> people in the Pentagon they didn't want the images out because they  
> showed the effect on man, woman, child."
> 
> McGovern, now 95 and living in California, could not be reached by  
> phone yesterday.
> 
> In late 1945, he and a crew had gone to Japan to begin filming. They  
> eventually shot 90 reels of 16mm film, containing 30 hours of  
> footage. About five hours pertain to the damage and death in  
> Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The rest is about everyday life in Japan.
> 
> Viewing the silent, unedited raw footage today -- anyone can, it's in  
> public access at the archives -- is a historical experience on  
> several levels. First, there is the documentary aspect in seeing rare  
> footage from postwar Japan. Second, there's what it says about the  
> people behind the camera. The hospital footage is morbid in the way  
> it lingers over wounds. It's disturbing that the filmmakers had women  
> undress in front of the camera, exposing their breasts and radiation  
> damage.
> 
> And in the final image that they shot, on the very last reel, there  
> is a boisterous group of boys out fishing. They have bamboo poles.  
> They jostle. One little boy -- this image is included in "Original  
> Child Bomb" -- smiles, all bright eyes and jug ears, and you marvel  
> at him, there in the sunlight 60 years ago, the very image of  
> childhood resilience against war, death and heartbreak.
> 
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