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Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Great Atomic Film Coverup

For years I’ve felt that one of the few “untold stories” of World War II, especially after all of the media and film attention the war has received in recent years, is the U.S. occupation of the two atomic cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I’m one of the few Americans to write widely about it, going back to the early 1980s – largely focusing on the film aspects and a “cover-up” of key footage -- and then even more after I visited the two cities at length a few years later. This led to my rather well-known 1995 book with Robert Jay Lifton, Hiroshima in America, and articles for dozens of leading magazines and newspapers, as well as serving as chief adviser to the award-winning 2004 documentary, Original Child Bomb.

As recently as last month I wrote a column for Huff Post on James Cameron visiting one of the few Japanese to survive both atomic bombings just before he died – and then purchasing the film rights to the new book on the survivors, although he may just have a TV documentary in mind.

I’ve written about all aspects of Hiroshima but particularly about the U.S. occupation in 1945 and 1946, the obvious health hazards faced by our servicemen there, Hollywood and TV movies about Hiroshima, and the “film cover-up” angle. I hope the time is right now for a book—and a major film feature or documentary (contact me at: epic1934@aol.com). Yes, there have been plenty of "Hiroshima" films but none that have focused on U.S. servicemen in the aftermath.

Anyone interested should start with my lengthy piece about the film coverup at Huff Post (a much shorter version is in the Hiroshima in America book). In a nutshell: A special U.S. military film crew was sent into the atomic cities shortly after the bombing to record the devastation – but their footage was locked up for decades so the American people never got a true glimpse of the effects of the bomb during the whole period of the nuclear arms building up and testing from the 1940s to 1980s. (We also seized all of the Japanese footage.) Hollywood produced hokey versions only. I interviewed both the director of the U.S. filming and one of his chief aides who tried for years to get the footage released, and obtained exclusive records documenting the shooting – and the cover-up. I also now have on tape all of the key footage that they shot.

It’s a great, human, story focusing on two fascinating men (one shot other footage for Hollywood and the other went on to a pioneering CBS job) and their struggle, all in the context of the U.S. occupation, our film and TV industry, and the nuclear arms race. Again, check out the Huff Post piece. My contact email again: epic1934@aol.com

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