(1995)4Mike CummingsThis made-for-TV film is riveting from beginning to end. It centers primarily on the political gamesmanship that led to the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, heralding the beginning of the atomic age. Filmed from both American and Japanese points of view, it eavesdrops on secret meetings, revealing historically accurate details about the strategies of the opposing sides. The film makes no judgments; it simply tells the story as it was. To maximize realism, the film uses archival 1945 footage -- both color and black-and-white -- to introduce scenes, make transitions, and depict battles. The splicing is seamless. For example, audiences see the real Harry Truman entering the White House and actor Kenneth Welsh, portraying Truman, closing the door inside. Between major sequences, American and Japanese government personnel in office in 1945 tell anecdotes about the political, military, and moral decisions of the time. In addition, ex-soldiers recite sometimes gruesome details about the brutality of war. Because these anecdotes usually last a half-minute or less, they do not detract from the film in any way. In fact, they enhance the sense of realism. The central conflict of Hiroshima, of course, pits the Americans against the Japanese. But the film also explores the conflicts between Americans over whether to use the bomb and between Japanese over whether to make peace or fight on. Tactics, morality, politics, and personalities all come into play. Suspense builds as Dr. Julius Robert Oppenheimer (Jeffrey DeMunn) and his team of scientists complete work on two bombs: a uranium device called Little Boy and a plutonium device called Fat Man. Hands wring; consciences reel. And then a plane dubbed the Enola Gay takes off for Hiroshima with Little Boy poised over the bomb bay. The acting is superb all around -- in particular, Welsh as Truman and Tatsuo Matsumura as Prime Minister Suzuki. Hiroshima deserves recognition as one of the greatest war films ever made. Oddly, Canadians play almost all of the Americans in the film.
This Canadian-Japanese co-production uses both vintage historical footage (including armed forces films and period newsreels) and contemporary dramatic reenactments to tell the story of how the scientific and military minds behind the Manhattan Project, under the orders of President Harry Truman (Kenneth Welsh), developed the first atomic bomb. The weapon was first used to attack the city of Hiroshima near the end of World War II, changing forever the shape of modern warfare and bringing fearsome devastation to a previously quiet Japanese city.