Japan remains the only country to have suffered the massive destructive powers of the atomic bomb. Not once, but twice within the span of days in August 1945 during World War II, the first being the city of Hiroshima, and then Nagasaki. Each year while we celebrate our National Day on the 9th of August, Nagasaki commemorates the anniversary of that tragic dark day in its history.
Much has been writen about, and probably everyone would have an idea of how destructive the bomb was. Beneath that mushroom cloud, if you're at the epicenter of impact, you evaporate. Buildings get flattened, and the radioactive fallout is just as deadly, if not, deadlier as victims undergo a painful, and slow death through immense burns, and most survivors are inflicted with cancer.
Nagasaki 1945 - The Angelus Bell recounts the days prior to, and immediately after the dropping of the bomb over Nagasaki. It follows a local doctor, Tatsuichiro Akizuki, who got dispatched to a theological seminary, which doubles as a makeshift hospital, Urakami First Hospital, and we witness the tragedy unfold through his eyes. An extremely dedicated chap, he galvanizes his team to saving his patients in the hospital, as well as the many citizens of the city with whatever medicine and equipment they can salvage.
The animation is deliberately kept very simple and unsophisticated (done by Mushi Productions, famous for AstroBoy), and that's perhaps not to distract from the main message of the movie, being anti-nuclear arms, and to serve as a reminder to a newer generation, through animation, of the negative effects of such weapons of mass destruction, and the humanitarian woes that come after. With the proliferation of such arms and the increased number of countries getting all ra-ra about it, this 2005 movie directed by Arihara Seiji, comes rather timely.
The movie doesn't flinch from trying to depict things as accurately as possible, with the charred bodies littering the grounds, and despite it being animation, the harrowing effects of the bomb are shown but never in a glorified manner. You will most likely be in awe of that massive mushroom cloud, though perhaps with the 20/20 hindsight that such a phenomenon brings about an extremely destructive nature beneath it. Buildings get swept aside, and you see people disappear at the blink of an eye. The entire explosion sequence, while short in duration, is perhaps one which blows you away yet resonates inside you as you inevitably think through the effects of the bomb on people.
Both the director and managing director of Mushi Productions graced the screening today, and had a short Q&A session with the audience. They provided some background to the making of the movie, and revealed certain nuggets of information about Nagasaki, like how its population is predominantly Christian, as well as production information that it took two years to make this film.
For those interested, there will be seminar tomorrow at Orchard Cineleisure Theatre Hall 8 at 1pm. Registraion is required and I think it's closed already, but you can always try at the door in case those who registered, do not turn up. If this movie gets a regular distribution locally, then I'll recommend everyone to go watch it.