Thursday, April 18, 2024

Hiroshima grapples with Oppenheimer Oscars success 

Oppenheimer had a glittering night at the Oscars but in Hiroshima, devastated by the first nuclear bomb in 1945, the film about the weapon’s creator is harder to stomach.

Kyoko Heya, president of the Japanese city’s international film festival, after the blockbuster won seven academy awards including best picture said “is this really a movie that people in Hiroshima can bear to watch?”.

Christopher Nolan also picked up best director for the biopic, which was a huge hit worldwide last summer — except in Japan, where it was absent from cinemas.

There was no official statement at the time, fueling speculation that sensitivities around the subject matter had kept the film off Japanese screens.

Around 140,000 people died in Hiroshima and 74,000 in Nagasaki when the United States dropped atomic bombs on the cities, days before the end of World War II.

The mega-budget “Oppenheimer” will finally be released in Japan on March 29, but Heya has organized a special screening for high school students.

From the city’s peace memorial park near the bomb’s hypocenter, the 69-year-old says that she had found Nolan’s movie “very America-centric.”

Read Also: ‘Oppenheimer’ Wins Top Screen Actors Guild Prize

In the park, the ruins of a domed building stand as a stark reminder of the horrors of the attack, along with a museum and other somber memorials. Heya was at first “terrified” about the prospect of screening it in Hiroshima, today a thriving metropolis of 1.2 million people.

Yu Sato, a 22-year-old student at Hiroshima City University, says she felt “a bit scared” about how bomb survivors and their families would react to the Oscar-winning film.

Sato says, “i have mixed feelings, to be honest,” who works with the survivors through her studies. “Oppenheimer created the atomic bomb, which means he made this world a very scary place.

“Even if he did not intend to kill many people, he cannot be seen as completely unaccountable.”

Director Nolan has said he was inspired to make “Oppenheimer” after stumbling upon a Pulitzer prize-winning biography of j. Robert Oppenheimer, the physicist who oversaw the invention of the atomic bomb.

But those jokes sparked anger online in Japan, the only country to have suffered a wartime nuclear attack, and social media users were also quick to react to the “Oppenheimer” Oscars sweep.

One user on x, formerly twitter, called the movie’s seven victories “overwhelming,” asking: “what is this strength? It must be one heck of a masterpiece. Another questioned its frame of reference.

“maybe it’s time someone made a film about atomic bombs from the perspective of Japan or a Japanese person.”

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