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Kuroi Ame (Black Rain)

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Kuroi Ame (Black Rain)

Shohei Imamura’s Kuroi ame, marketed in the west as “Black Rain” tackles the social stigma of radiation in the aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing. The film was released in 1989 and is based on the novel of the same name by Masuji Ibuse. Imamura chose to film in black and white to give the film a contemporary connection to the period presented. A feature film also titled “Black Rain” featuring Michael Douglas fighting the Yakuza came out the same year, care must be taken to select the correct film. The first part of the film covers the devastation of the Hiroshima bombing but quickly moves to the countryside, five years later, with the survivors of the blast. The storyline centers around a man from an upper class family who is struggling to find a husband for his niece. The rumor that she may have been exposed to radiation stigmatizes her prospects. After a failed attempt to marry her off and with limited prospects, a woman from a lower class suggests her son as a possible husband, which brings class conflict to an already complicated situation. The film is very useful in a Social Studies classroom, for World History, Sociology and Psychology. The themes go beyond the historical bombing and into the entrenched class division which were still present in Japan in the 1950’s. It’s not overtly graphic, features no nudity nor profanity, making it classroom friendly.

The themes covered include:
- Post war devastation
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Class conflict
- Women’s rights
- Urban vs. rural conflicts.

More information can be found here:
edited by sochoa on 2/10/2016

Dennis O'Connell
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Topic Posts: 4
Black Rain

The synopsis by this Anonymous source is for the most part accurate.  I appreciated the movie being in black and white to give it an "authentic feel" like it was filmed closer to the post-1945 events in Japan.  I also appreciated the rural setting (many of the scenes could be used in a classroom to contrast with the city images we usually associate with Japanese cities).  The Anonymous writer above says there is no nudity.  This is not completely correct.  There is one scene (a dramatic one in which the protagonist finds her hair falling out) where there is frontal nudity.  The other scenes of woman bathing (once in a tub and once or twice in a river/lake) are tastefully done.  

In my third grade classroom each year, we read the book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.  This movie complements that book well in that students can understand that the devastating effects of war are felt long after the war is over.  In the movie, there are characters who suffer from the actual bombing itself, from the "flash" of the bomb and subsequent illnesses, and from the black rain which falls as a result of the bombing and who come down with ailments many years later.  There is even a character who served in the Japanese military who has some form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  This is a good movie for showing that innocent people are often the victims of war.  

That being said, I had the same feeling during the latter part of this movie that I had when I visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial in 1993.  In both the movie and the museum/memorial one is meant to feel that the Japanese were somehow innocent bystanders to World War II.  There is no mention of Pearl Harbor and dragging the USA reluctantly into the war.  There is no mention of kamikaze pilots (suicide bombers).  There is no mention of how the Japanese treated prisoners of war.  There is no mention of Nanking, China and atrocities perpetrated by the Japanese on innocent civilians.  There is no mention of how hard it was for the US led troops to capture the small island of Iwo Jima (meaning that attempts to subdue mainland Japan would be costly and lengthy).  While I despise war and killing on any level, I find it a bit unfair to somehow place a lot of guilt at the feet of Truman and the USA when the decision to drop the bombs was made.  I believe the dropping of the bombs ended the war many years before it would have ended had they not been dropped.  I believe the USA gave the Japanese many opportunities to surrender and warned of the consequences.  I sympathize with innocent people who die and suffer in wars, but let us not blame the enders of a war and try to make them feel guilty.  Perhaps there should have been thought before starting a war in the first place.