Archive for February 6th, 2012

Black Rain (1989)

August 6th 1945 and the atomic bomb drops on Hiroshima. Mr & Mrs Shimuza along with their niece Yasuko try to flee the chaos and the horrying aftermath caused by the bomb. Even though it was only Mr Shimuza in the city during the initial blinding flash, Mrs Shimuza and Yasuko returned and were subjected to ‘Black Rain’ – a combination of ash, radioactive fallout and water that fell on the city only hours after the blast. Five years down the line and we’re in 1950. The Shimuzas have moved to a quiet countryside location with other survivors of the bomb trying to lead a normal life but it is only now that the problems associated with exposure to radiation rears it’s ugly head as the Shimuza’s neighbours begin to fall sick and die. The Shimuzas are desperate to find a husband for Yasuko but nearly all are afraid that she’s been infected with radiation. The only person that Yasuko feels comfortable around is an ex-soldier who has post traumatic stress disorder in that everytime he hears an engine he panics and thinks it’s an enemy tank! The Shimuza’s soon begin to wonder when will it be their turn to die?

This is a great anti-war movie and a story of a community trying to move on with their lives after being in a traumatic situation but aware that a dark shadow is on the horizon that can strike them down at any moment. The opening 10 minutes of the movie is powerful and horrific as we witness the devastation and suffering caused by the atomic bomb – a young mother clutching on to the charred remains of her baby and even worse a man looking for his younger brother and finding him as a burnt survivor whose flesh is hanging off his fingers. He only manages to recognise him by his trouser belt. Truly terrible images that live long in the mind and it’s lucky that the entire movie is in black and white or those scenes in color would have been even more nasty to watch. As the movie switches from the day of the bomb to the countryside in 1950 we see that the Shimuza’s are trying their best to deny that they are sick from radiation exposure. The story now focuses more on the aunt and uncle trying to find Yasuko a husband. Even though a doctor’s note classifies her as not being infected, just being around Hiroshima on the day of the bomb has put off many of her suitors. Yasuko’s plight in is even more tragic as we come to the climax and as she combs her hair watching herself in the mirror and we see a large clump of it falling off. The silent deadly killer finally taking it’s toll on her.

Black Rain is a very thought provoking, sobering, grim and moving piece of cinema that deserves to be seen by everybody. It’s very well directed by Shohei Imamura, the acting is brilliant and the story whilst depressing has some humourous parts now and then. An ingenious move by Imamura to shoot the movie completely in black and white. Nearly 70 years ago from Hiroshima/Nagasaki and human beings still haven’t learned from the past. Wars are still being fought and even though no further a-bombs have been dropped, the countries in these conflicts have used other weapons to harm people. The threat of a rogue country launching a nuclear weapon still looms large.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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