Nostalgia World War II Video Library #5

190. NOSTALGIA WORLD WAR II VIDEO LIBRARY #5 (1945-USA). Produced by the Army Pictorial Service Division of the Signal Corps. The shocking aftermath of World War II-told from two fascinating, and very different, perspectives. Here is the spectacle of humanity at its most inspiring, and at its most destructive. These are films you are not likely to forget.
1. DIARY OF A SERGEANT (1945). With HAROLD RUSSELL. The moving autobiography of a soldier who’s lost both hands, and who overcomes his fear and depression, learns how to use mechanical hands, and struggles his way back to a meaningful life. Events are dramatized, but Harold Russell (who would win two Oscars the following year for his memorable performance in “The Best Years of Our Lives’) takes us through many of his actual previous experiences, and the film is a perfect blend of documentary and drama. As he masters the overwhelming tasks of writing, opening doors, brushing his teeth, dialing telephones and other everyday activities we take for granted, as he determines to enroll in college, as he meets and romances a nice young woman, and as he tells us of his optimism about the future, he provides a true profile in courage.
2. THE ATOM STRIKES (1945). An official government document of (and justification for) the atom bomb’s awesome destructive power, starting with the July 1945 Alamogordo, New Mexico tests (filmed with three cameras) and concentrating on the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August. The film takes us from the center of each blast’s target, moving outward to show how many square miles were affected. All of the horrifying footage of twisted metal and piles of rubble is accompanied by an extremely emotionless narration, The emphasis is on buildings and other structures; almost nothing is said about victims. No human casualties are shown, although the silhouette of a vaporized pedestrian imprinted onto a bridge tells, as the narrator calmly says, “its own meaningful story.” We’re reassured that in both cases, the bombs were dropped well above the ground, and that in fact the cities were perfectly safe to enter soon afterward, A Jesuit priest in Hiroshima tells us that the Japanese do not hate Americans: on the contrary, they admire our technical skill! The pros and cons of the bombings may be argued forever, but this film is unarguably a cold piece of propaganda. As such, it is not only an essential record of the events, but also a revealing insight into the attitudes of the time. 53 minules total. Propaganda