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White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (2007)

Harold Agnew , Shuntaro Hida , Steven Okazaki  |  NR |  DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)

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White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki + BBC History of World War II: Hiroshima + 24 Hours After Hiroshima
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Product Details

  • Actors: Harold Agnew, Shuntaro Hida, Kiyoko Imori, Morris Jeppson, Lawrence Johnston
  • Directors: Steven Okazaki
  • Writers: Steven Okazaki
  • Producers: Atsuko Shigesawa, Jason Cohen, Jules Greenberg, Kathleen Sullivan, Michael Wilson
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: Unknown
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: HBO Studios
  • DVD Release Date: August 7, 2007
  • Run Time: 86 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000RL6G8M
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #137,403 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Through the powerful recollections of atomic bomb survivors, White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, an extraordinary new film by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Steven Okazaki, presents a deeply moving look at the painful legacy of the first -- and hopefully last -- uses of thermonuclear weapons in war. Featuring interviews with fourteen atomic bomb survivors - many who have never spoken publicly before - and four Americans intimately involved in the bombings, White Light/Black Rain provides a detailed exploration of the bombings and their aftermath.-  In a succession of riveting personal accounts, the film reveals both unimaginable suffering and extraordinary human resilience.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
101 of 118 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible heart-wrenching production August 7, 2007
If anyone ever says to you, "ah, just drop a nuke on them." Or, if any policy maker ever says, "What we need are tactical nuclear weapons", then they haven't seen nor understand the real horrors not of being killed, but surviving an atomic blast. Instantaneous disintegration is the easy part of this discussion. This is a movie from the survivors point of view that should be shown to all Americans, especially anyone who thinks nuclear war is a game to be won. The effects of these bombs in August, 1945 are still with the survivors today. I never stopped to think what life must be like with your skin burned off, or the side of your face sheered away, or skin dangling like string from your body. You may not be able to watch this documentary all the way through as you see U. S. Army footage of the actual horrors of these blasts, but when you return to the TV after having cried, you will leave with a deep understanding that nuclear weapons are one of the scientific advances the human race should never use again.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gary W. January 15, 2009
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent HBO Documentary; the opening showing modern day Hiroshima with a man on the street asking present day Japanese teen agers this question. "What significant event happened on August 6th, 1945?" None of them knew, one guessed "earthquake." The rest of the documentary focuses on actual victims and their testimony of the bombing, their life after and archival footage of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The documentary was well done, there was never any anti-American sentiment but some negative views of the Japanese government were expressed principally the WW-II era military government. I presently work in Japan and have been to Hiroshima and the Peace Park there. It is a very moving experience I hope to go to Nagasaki this year. The most humbling thing for me of that visit is the story of a very athletic and intellegent young girl, Sadako Sasaki a victim of cancer likely induced by radiation exposure she died in 1955, Sadako was 12, people should read about her will to continue life by folding over 1000 paper cranes even when it took her hours to do one because of her weakened body. Sadako and her cranes are now huge symbol of peace for children. The Japanese people do not like talking about WW-II because it was a horrific experience for them and totally altered the concepts and society of Japanese thinking and logic. As a child myself in the fifties and a teen in the sixties and having served on active duty in both the USAF and US Navy for 20 years I can recall the fear of the possibility of total world destruction by a nuclear war. It was a very stressful period and that awareness was always at the back of many of our thoughts. The war had to end and in actuality the use of the bombs saved many more lives, that should not be forgotten either. Read more ›
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38 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Been There August 6, 2007
This is an extra ordinary documentary. I have been to ground zero in Hiroshima and it was one of the most moving experiences in my life. An excellent piece with unbelievable fairness. Show this to your children.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wow, just wow May 24, 2008
I can't even describe what I was seeing in this movie without getting the urge to cry. Absolutely shocking detailed documentary mainly focusing on the Japanese (with English subtitles), and what they had to deal with when they were children and the Hiroshima nuclear attack happened.

Let me tell you- this movie will absolutely shock you on several occasions, because it shows footage of the famous bombing incident in World War II, and you will get to know a few select Japanese people who were a part of the disaster and lived through it, with all the amazingly accurate and heartbreaking details revealing to us exactly what they had to go through.

It's almost hard to believe real people had to go through these horrible events and deal with diseases, their skin falling apart, and other major problems as a result of one devastating bomb.

It's a film worth seeing from a Japanese perspective, because for years we've all been seeing the American point of view of what happened that horrible day. Now it's the Japanese telling their stories. You'll get to know each one of them and listen to their incredible stories. What they had to go through was just... unbelievable.

Worth watching, but don't be surprised if the shocking stories and video footage becomes too much for a weak stomach.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Watch March 22, 2008
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I could go on and on about this film. I'll only say that it is DEEPLY important that this period in World History be VIVIDLY remembered so that we do not lose touch with our humanity in the face of such catastrophic power. This film captures that humanity effortlessly. The most moving documentary I have seen in a long long time. I would go so far as to beg people to see it. Educate yourself.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From an old man September 11, 2008
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I had personal reasons for wanting to get out of the Army, even though it had given me a safe and easy job. The war seemed to be going on forever. If I had known beforehand of the existence of an atomic bomb that could end the war, my first impulse would be to use it.

President Truman was more reflective. He was a plain man, and had not witnessed an atomic explosion. His judgment used the number of lives, both American and Japanese, that would be lost or saved. He believed that the Japanese people would not surrender unless American soldiers fought to occupy all of Japan, with a huge loss of life. He concluded that lives could be saved by dropping a bomb on a Japanese city.

The scientists who had witnessed the first atomic explosion in New Mexico felt differently. Their leader, J. Robert Oppenheimer, gained an appointment with the President, and pleaded that a bomb not be dropped on people. (See "American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer"). But Oppenheimer was excited, and made a poor choice of words. He said that he had blood on his hands. The President said that the blood was on HIS hands, and he must make the judgment.

As the DVD describes, there was a small medical study of the effects of the bombs on the survivors. Humans at ground zero were simply vaporized. I have read that some of them a little further out survived, but temporarily lost all sense of human kinship. They were just machines, running around desperately. These people should have been interviewed extenively. It's too late for that now. Most of them have passed on.

But White Light/Black Rain finally gives us the impressions of those who were only children in 1945.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting, stark documentary. Please watch!
This is a very well made documentary from HBO. I come from a long line of military members in my family. Read more
Published 11 days ago by Rocky B
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
It should be a required viewing in all high schools when discussing World War II.
Published 20 days ago by ginger peters
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative
Riveting events has told by survivors of the bombings. I would think more effort should have been made on bombing military installations and surroundings than civilians and... Read more
Published 26 days ago by WBW
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This documentary will leave you speechless.
Published 1 month ago by CC
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking and breathtaking
This is probably one of the best, most surreal documentaries I have ever seen. Aug 6th was literally hell on earth and this bomb started a whole era of nuclear weapons. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Kimberly Bouck
5.0 out of 5 stars Required Viewing for All Humans!
This brings to light the very real possibility of nuclear holocaust on planet Earth. Everyone can afford and hour and a half to become aware of what it means to explode a nuclear... Read more
Published 1 month ago by D
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a well done documentary and is a must ...
This is a well done documentary and is a must see for those interested in the WWII history especially the bombing of Japan with the Atomic bomb.
Published 1 month ago by CherryO
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
Very interesting
Published 1 month ago by Gary McPeak
4.0 out of 5 stars but beautiful documentary.
Gut wrenching., but beautiful documentary.
Published 1 month ago by topper
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Interesting documentary about two very dark days in the history of two countries.
Published 1 month ago by Archie
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