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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, July 28, 2004

New film retells of atomic bombings

Advertiser Staff

Cinema Paradise is bringing fans of the documentary a contemporary new film at its monthly screening today. "Original Child Bomb," a 2004 documentary by U.S. director Carey Schonegevel, combines visually sophisticated presentation and original music by cutting-edge artists Ryuichi Sakamoto, Dan the Automator, DJ Shadow and Mos Def.

Cinema Paradise

Based on a prose poem by Thomas Merton about the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II, the 57-minute film uses spare voice-over narration to quote from Merton's text throughout the film.

Graphic images in color and black and white are incorporated to show the human face of war. The documentary makes extensive use of home movies, period newsreels, still photographs, drawings, computer graphics, present-day interviews and animation.

'Original Child Bomb'

Cinema Paradise monthly film screening

  • 8 tonight
  • The Opium Den at Indigo Eurasian Cuisine
  • $5 general, $3 Cinema Paradise members
  • 550-0496
  • www.cinemaparadise.org
Schonegevel gives the documentary a contemporary immediacy by shuttling back and forth between various images from the past and present: scenes of daily life in Japan before the dropping of the atomic bombs are juxtaposed with images of its devastating aftermath; stock shots of the atomic tests in the Nevada desert are conjoined with an interview with an American veteran who witnessed that event; and a newsreel of President Harry Truman's declaration of victory over Japan is contrasted with televised images of George W. Bush's response to the threat of weapons of mass destruction.

"Original Child Bomb" has a point of view. It begins as a dramatic retelling of the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan, and it concludes with a strong plea against nuclear proliferation.

The filmmaker effectively brings this point home by focusing on the reactions of contemporary American youths. A round-table discussion among teenagers focuses on America's responsibility for exploding nuclear weapons. An animated sequence by Emily Hubley and Jeremiah Dickey depicts a girl's reaction to the nuclear age.