Gembaku no ko (Children of Hiroshima) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Gembaku no ko (Children of Hiroshima) Reviews

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June 19, 2014
A Japanese melodrama about the A-bomb aftermath in Hiroshima shot in the style of Italian neo-realism.
Super Reviewer
April 28, 2011
In "Children of Hiroshima," Takako(Nobuko Otowa), a teacher, is returning to her home in Hiroshima for the first time in years, having moved to an island to live with relatives after the atomic blast. On her return, she finds the city in the process of rebuilding but also Iwakichi(Osamu Takizawa), a former employee of her father's, and now nearly blind, forced to beg on the streets. At least, while Natsue(Niwa Saito), a friend and former colleague, is infertile, she also works as a midwife as she and her husband(Tsutomu Shimomoto) are in the process of adopting a baby. Takako's next stop is to look up their three surviving kindergarten students.

"Children of Hiroshima" is a heartbreaking movie shot in the finest neo-realist style, as it successfully takes the tragedy of the bombing down to a personal level with the city in the background. What soon becomes apparent in the individual characters' stories is the indiscriminate nature of the deaths, depending on where a person was when the bomb went off, thus breaking up families and creating large amounts of orphans. Even years later, the radiation still kills, randomly and suddenly. Actually, nobody got away totally unscathed in the city. Takako's most visible wound is the glass shard in her shoulder but to audiences of her time, it probably seemed tragic that she had little hope for marriage.
August 22, 2010
****): Thumbs Up

A powerful film experience.
½ June 28, 2010
More of a dramatic documentary than a movie. Historical and quite an important account of the Atomic Bomb aftermath as you see Hiroshima and its people during the reconstruction era but as a film, it is rather sentimental and a bit mediocre.
½ July 10, 2009
"Children of Hiroshima" tells the story of a young school teacher who revisits the city where she lost her parents and sister, four years after the bombing of August 6, 1945. As she meets a former colleague, an old family friend and the last three surviving children of the kindergarten school where she used to teach, the film shows the many ways in which "Pika", the A-Bomb, shattered the lives of the inhabitants of the city.

However compelling a topic I find the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to be - I have read a few books on the subject, watched several documentaries and dramatisations, read most of Keiji Nakazawa's "Barefoot Gen", and even shaken the hand of a hibakusha - I didn't find "Children of Hiroshima" very successful as a film. Of course, the shots of Hiroshima in 1952 (the year the film was shot) are invaluable as documents. But the story itself is too episodic, and feels more like a melodramatic parade of the blind, the scarred, the maimed, the sterile, the orphans, the homeless and, of course, the dead, whom the bomb left behind.

The very short flashbacks to the bombing are praiseworthy in their attempted abstraction, as a more realistic depiction might have seemed exploitative, but they give the impression that what the bomb did was bare women's breasts and wither flowers. Reminiscences of the time before the bomb are also much too idyllic, as if the atom had interrupted an innocent summer holiday. There is no sense of the hardships, the squalor, the hunger or even the paranoia that the Japanese must have endured.

As for the personal anecdotes, they feel more like generic tableaus than authentic life stories, and I wish Kaneto Shindō had adapted genuine biographical testimonies, or directed a fully-fledged documentary, rather than come up with this not too subtle and slightly preachy caricature.
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