Moviegoers question the lack of Japanese perspectives in Oppenheimer

Originally published at: Moviegoers question the lack of Japanese perspectives in Oppenheimer | Boing Boing


I’m not sure Nolan could make such a movie, even if he wanted to. His films are slick-looking, but despite their air of self-importance they’re just not that smart, and I’ve never seen any indication that he possesses the depth necessary to approach such a story.


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Oi, Chris,

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I saw Grave of the Fireflies… talk about a punch in the gut if you need a Japanese perspective. Outside the scope of the Oppenheimer movie though undoubtedly, but I have yet to see it.


This movie was clearly never going to do that, but I do think we could stand a movie that does explore the Japanese perspective. Too many people in the US still just accept the conventional view that dropping nuclear weapons on Japan resulted in less loss of life that the alternative. I would love to see a movie that honestly evaluates challenges that assumption. There probably is one, but another one couldn’t hurt.


This perfectly sums up the feeling I get about so many discussions online. It’s the movie version of the woman who got lit up for saying she enjoyed a coffee in the garden with her husband, and not taking the feelings of all the people without husbands, or gardens, or quiet mornings into account. Some people need to stop fishing for internet points by looking for every opportunity to Further the Discourse.


There are a lot of things to dislike about Clint Eastwood but I thought it was a brilliant idea to make two back-to-back movies about the battle of Iwo Jima, one from the American perspective and another from the Japanese perspective. If he’d tried to tell both stories in the same movie neither one would have landed the same way.


I just thought that the mention of Clint Eastwood was interesting because a few years back he did something that some of the critics of this film probably would have appreciated: at the same time that he made the film Flags of our Fathers he also made Letters from Iwo Jima, telling the story of that battle from the Japanese perspective. I thought it worked really well to watch those films back to back, and was much more coherent than if he had tried to cram it all into a single film.




This gets into complicated questions… but isn’t it possibly of more value to have a movie by Japanese filmmakers exploring the Japanese perspective? What’s the additional value in having Americans and Brits make a movie exploring the Japanese perspective? Simply audience size?


Uncanny, like youze speak a weird twin language or something.


If it hasn’t been done yet there could be an in-depth study of the lead-up to Truman’s decision, including the generals who thought it was a bad idea, or the fact that the surrender immediately followed the Soviet declaration of war.


The surrender came some time after the Soviet declaration of war. When they already overran Manchuria and the northern half of Korea. Giving Mao a major boost and leading to divided Koreas post war.

(Covered in the movie Human Condition Part 3 and the docuseries Soviet Storm)


I would love to see a film by a Japanese filmmaker on the topic. I’m sure there are several, but made primarily for the Japanese cinema? I have no idea. Regardless, I think a lot of Americans, including some who otherwise hold reasonable, even progressive, political viewpoints, still just accept without challenge that the bombs were a necessary evil. I think some of them might be more receptive to an alternate viewpoint if it came from Hollywood, or American Indie film. But that’s just a feeling I have, I don’t have any special knowledge to back that belief up.

Interestingly, if you visit the Truman museum in Independence, Missouri, the exhibit there on Truman’s decision to drop the bomb does actually include opinions that it was the wrong decision and did not save lives. I mean, I don’t want to overstate it, the overall message there is still that Truman did the right thing, but it does at least present contrary opinions.


(Thanks. The timeline is apparently jumbled in my head. For some reason I thought the Red Army had amassed in Manchuria and was almost ready to invade the home islands when the formal declaration was made. )


If only someone had written a book with the perspective of those who took an atomic bomb in the head… Maybe he could read it and get an insight or two.



There are plenty of Japanese ones that do that for sure (Grave of the Fireflies, Barefoot Gen, … but a western film would be nice.

Here is a documentary from 2007 about the bombs:

Primarily, greater exposure to narratives other than “we had to do it.”

Again, people noted two that have a wider audience than just Japan that are made by Japanese production companies.


I freely admit my ignorance in this area of cinema. Thank you, and others, for the recommendations.


It’s an important topic for sure. But of course there were a number of possible alternatives, most of which would have been better, but some of which were even deadlier, so you have to clearly lay out which alternatives you’re talking about. People tend to forget that Hiroshima and Nagasaki weren’t even the bombings with the highest death tolls. Firebombing can be pretty damn horrific too.