film review from Liberal Street Fighter

“It was a beautiful day …the plane was shining in the sun. We stopped working, mesmerized … admiring the plane.

I’ve heard so many people talk about how beautiful the day was when the World Trade Center was attacked. The sky was crystal blue, cloudless, a perfect fall day.

That’s not the day being described by the person quoted above. It’s a memory relayed in the haunting documentary Original Child Bomb, which was shown on the Sundance Channel earlier this evening. In an earlier piece, I focused on the excellent piece by Greg Mitchell in Editor & Publisher, but I’d like to share my impressions about the movie Mr. Mitchell played a part in creating.

What does the bombing of Hiroshima have to do with 9/11? The film makes a connection, between those events and so much more …
… the connection is fear, and lies. The misunderstandings people have of one another, misunderstandings stoked by propaganda and government distortions, from all parties involved.

The film uses long-lost footage from the aftermath of the bombings, but that isn’t the sole source of its power. Thomas Merton’s poem is quoted throughout, but the director Carey Schonegevel mixes in modern music, anime, children’s drawings, art work from survivors, statistics about nuclear weapons and so much more to drive home how important open communication and the power of art to bridge our differences.

We see a photographer developing film of the bombings, pictures that become increasingly gruesome and disturbing. Disgusted, he starts to destroy the photos, the pieces of which become the graffiti raining down on Times Square on VJ day. Jubulation born out of horrible pain.

A japanese boy walks through modern Hiroshima listening to electronic music, dressed in a ball cap, jeans and a tee shirt, while the street scenes morph into film shot in the aftermath. Film, music, photos … they help us to step into other people’s experiences. THAT is why so many governments, NOT just our government, declare writings and artwork forbidden.

Our greatest hope is this ability to make ourselves understood through the insights offered by art. The only way to avoid a conflict that could lead to widespread nuclear destruction (which the film highlights by show the growth of nuclear arsenals over the decades) is to keep those lines open.

The questions of children, the stories and pictures created by children, are scattered throughout Original Child Bomb. If they are to have a future, it’s vital that we oppose any government that seeks to squelch the truth, that seeks to demonize people we don’t know as OTHERS, because if the bombs DO drop, the pain is the same pain, the rent flesh hangs in the same bloody ribbons, no matter who they fall on.

Original Chld Bomb is a powerful film. It will be shown again on August 09 2005 04:30 pm; August 14 2005 03:30 pm; August 19 2005 02:00 pm; August 24 2005 12:00 pm. Try to take it in if you can.

photo from Materials News

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