Japanese Survivors Shaded by Puzzlement and Sorrow
Kaneto Shindo’s “Children of Hiroshima” was released in Japan in 1952, when the memories of World War II and the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were still fresh and painful.
A sense of immediacy, or working through recent and almost unfathomable trauma, is palpable in the film, much of which was shot in Hiroshima itself.
That it is only now opening in the United States – as part of a welcome and revelatory retrospective devoted to Mr. Shindo at the Brooklyn Academy of Music – heightens that uncanny sense of present-tense witness, even as Japan’s more recent disasters impart a somber feeling of renewed relevance.
Mr. Shindo, who turns 99 on Friday (and whose brand-new feature, “Postcard,” will be shown in the 11-film program), has been overshadowed, at least in the West, by some of his predecessors, peers and successors: filmmakers like Kenzo Mizoguchi, Akira Kurosawa and Shohei Imamura.