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By Phil Hall | July 11, 2011

In “Hiroshima Nagasaki Download,” director Shinpei Takeda and producer Eiji Wakamatsu set out to record interviews with North American-based survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings of 1945. In concept, it is a fascinating subject for a documentary.

The now-elderly survivors offer an extraordinary first-person account of living through the aftermath of an unthinkable horror – many were children at the time of the bombings and would come of age in a city ravaged by radiation-based diseases. A few of the survivors offer truly memorable anecdotes, including the role played by the Hiroshima Carp baseball team in rebuilding the city’s pride.

Unfortunately, Takeda and Wakamatsu decided that they were much more interesting than the subjects of the film. A great deal of this documentary is wasted as the filmmakers engage in endlessly dull conversations about their own experiences and their comments on the cities they visit as the travel from interview to interview. As a result, the survivors’ are mostly treated like an afterthought – and in many cases, their life stories become half-told histories as obvious questions are ignored and follow-up questions are never pursued.

The 65th anniversary of the atomic bombings is coming up next year, and hopefully there will be more intelligent non-fiction films that will succeed where this dismal work of dilettante cinema has failed.

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