American cinema is omnivorous. It has swallowed almost every subject from the trivial to great historical events, and then spewed them up. However, there is one subject it has refused to tackle directly: the bombing of Hiroshima and its consequences.
As it is now 65 years since the horrific event, the omission seems even more astounding. Is there is an element of collective guilt because the US is the only country ever to have used a nuclear weapon on a civilian population? It cannot be because the subject is too appalling to depict, since many other horrendous happenings have been portrayed graphically in American films.
The only references that American cinema, commercial or otherwise, has made to Hiroshima have been oblique. During the cold war, MGM produced Above and Beyond (1952), based on the experiences of Colonel Paul Tibbets, the pilot of the Enola Gay, the first aircraft to drop an atomic bomb. The film makes the oft-repeated argument that the bombing was justified because it contributed to the ending of the second world war, yet it seemed more concerned with the effects it had on the pilot’s relationship with his wife.
August 17, 2010