PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY GEOFFREY POISTER
DISTRIBUTED BY NATIONAL ASIAN AMERICAN TELECOMMUNICATIONS ASSOCIATION
346 NINTH STREET, SECOND FL.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94103
FAX: (415) 863-7428
1996. VHS VIDEO. 56 MINUTES.
Reviewed by David G. Goodman
The Spirit of Hiroshima is an introduction to the issues surrounding the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and to the attempts by Japanese in that city today to make its legacy meaningful to themselves and to future generations. It is a well-intentioned but not altogether successful film that will be most useful with younger audiences, who will respond to its emphasis on the experience of children. Older and more sophisticated viewers will want better storytelling and a more thorough analysis of the political, military, and humanitarian issues than this film provides.
The film begins by introducing us to the Tonai family, an attractive young couple and their two sons, aged eight and twelve, who live in present-day Hiroshima but who have never been to the annual commemoration of the atomic bombing on August 6. The Tonais have decided to give their children a history lesson and to attend the memorial service together, and we accompany them as they eat breakfast, take the train into the city center, and attend the ceremony.
As the Tonai family proceeds with its preparations, we meet three survivors of the bombing, who each tell us the story of their experience: Matsubara Miyoko, a schoolgirl in 1945 who apparently was one of the Hiroshima Maidens brought to the United States in the 1950s for reconstructive plastic surgery; Sasamura Hiroshi, the principal of an elementary school; and Masuda Tsutomu, a teacher-turned-painter. The Spirit of Hiroshima cuts back and forth among these witnesses, the Tonais, and historical images of the bombing.