Picks and Pans Review: Remembering the Bomb
PBS (Wed., Aug. 6, 9 p.m. ET)
On this night, PBS marks the 41st anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima with an understated and spectacularly moving documentary about last year’s 40th anniversary in Japan. You watch a man who was in school 2,500 yards from Ground Zero return to that place every morning to pray for the souls of his classmates. He remembers children in agony. “Nobody asked for help,” he recalls. “To ask for help was considered shameful.” Today he runs Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Museum, and you listen as he talks to children about that day. You meet a woman who was 875 yards from the blast, a Hiroshima Maiden brought to the U.S. so that doctors could repair her facial disfigurement. For years she would not talk about the bomb. But now she too goes to the Peace Memorial to tell children about Aug. 6. You meet Jacob Beser, radar man on the B-29 bomber Enola Gay, as he makes his first visit to the grounds of Hiroshima, where he sees pictures of the terrible pain as well as the rebuilt city. “I have no regrets,” he says. “No act of war is pleasant.” And you meet American teen tourists who talk like acned Rambos until they’re bruised and bowed when they see what war is like. “I might have advised [President] Truman to go for it,” one kid says. “But knowing what I know now, definitely not.” The documentary succeeds because of its subtlety. It leaves you with a most powerful message without trying to force-feed you.