Hiroshima documentary airs on Sundance tonight

August 06, 2005|By KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

WASHINGTON - Sixty years after the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, a film documenting the aftermath is reminding Americans about the horrors of nuclear war.

Footage from a U.S. government-produced film, labeled top secret and kept out of public view for decades, is included in Original Child Bomb, a documentary that will air on the Sundance Channel at 8 p.m. today, the 60th anniversary of the day that Hiroshima became the first city to suffer atomic attack.

Its release is the culmination of years of effort to bring the government footage before a large U.S. audience. Some antiwar activists see the film's appearance on cable television as a crucial step toward an open discussion about the controversial bombings that ended World War II.

The young soldiers who shot the film in Hiroshima and Nagasaki less than a month after the dawn of the atomic age were unprepared for what they found.

"It was to me the most horrendous, terrifying thing I had ever seen," camera operator Herbert Sussan, now deceased, said in a 1983 interview with the British Broadcasting Corp.

Showing their work to the rest of the world was no easy task. The nine hours of film, shot in color, captured horrifying scenes of destruction and suffering, including a woman with a dress pattern burned onto her back and the shadows of vaporized civilians burned into walls.

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