Published on April 20th, 2011 | by Chris0
In 1995 Showtime released this miniseries/docudrama about the events leading up to, and including the atomic bomb drops on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The short version: It's not bad, but its not great, either.
The facts are pretty well known, as is the story, so I won't even attempt to lay it all out here. The movie starts with the death of FDR, and from that point on focuses mostly on President Truman as he is (and his staff are) presented with the details of this new secret superweapon and the struggle with the decision on if, when, and how to use it.
Then there's the Japanese viewpoint, which, while present, doesn't seem to be as well thought out. Why exactly I can't say.
Overall I think it presents a pretty good estimation of what Truman was handed, and what it might have been like for him and his staff, to have to make such a decision. Ultimately, as history, and this film would portray it was a decision that once made, proved to be the right one, and one that he didn't regret.
I did appreciate that, for the most part, it didn't descend into a giant anti-nuke anti-war treatise. It stuck to its guns as a historical docudrama, and managed to present the various sides to the story without necessarily favoring one over another.
The actors chosen for their respective roles did an excellent job in portraying the people as we have become accustomed to seeing them in newsreels, etc. At first, it would seem that Kenneth Welsh's portrayal of Truman is wooden and, I dunno, absent... But paired up against actual footage it seems pretty spot on. Wesley Addy is particularly good, IMO, in his role as War Dept. Secretary Henry Stimson and his objections to using such a weapon.
Also of note are the (all too) infrequent interviews with people who were involved either with the Manhattan project itself, the US government/armed forces, and with bomb survivors and former Japanese military. These should have been either more prominent, or left on the floor entirely. While they did add a lot to the experience, there just wasn't enough of it for my tastes.
The entire package is quite lengthy, weighing in at approximately 3 hrs., but its necessary to get everything in there, so fair warning! It actually doesn't feel like 3 hrs once you get into it. It's paced well enough and incorporates enough of the side-stories that it manages to hold your interest throughout. The only reason I say above that its not great, is that it is rather flat, and while people may be portrayed accurately, its done without a lot of depth or emotion.
I would actually recommend this as an education piece, either at home or in school. I don't recall anything except for maybe a few passing instances of profanity that might prevent it from being used as such.
I would also recommend viewing the Japanese film, Japan's Longest Day, as a bookend, companion piece, or counterpoint (depending on your own persuasions) to this film, as it provides an almost parallel and much more complete look at what was going on there during this same period. The Sun might be included in that as well.
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THE GRIZZLY EVENTS LEADING TO THE FIRST ATTACK WITH A NUCLEAR WEAPON.
DVD InformationBinding: DVD
Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Manufacturer: Echo Bridge
Original Release Date:
- Kenneth Welsh
- Naohiko Umewaka
Summary: It stuck to its guns as a historical docudrama, and managed to present the various sides to the story without necessarily favoring one over another.