IRVINE, Calif.—According to Japanese producer and director Hidetaka Inazuka, James Cameron will work on a project about the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the experience of living through both, back-to-back.
On April 16, the film Twice Bombed: Legacy of Yamaguchi Tsutomu was screened at the seventh Annual Japan Film Festival, in Irvine, Calif. The documentary follows the life of Yamaguchi Tsutomu as he recounts the horrors in both cities, the self-imposed silence that followed for 60 years, and the eventual telling of his story.
Twice Bombed was directed and produced by Inazuka, a major Japanese television producer. He filmed Yamaguchi for several years as the survivor emotionally recounted his tale to high school students, the United Nations, and elsewhere in Japan.
Yamaguchi was one of only approximately 190 people to have experienced both nuclear bombs, and one of the few to ever talk about the experience. He was the first governmentally recognized “double survivor,” and his story spread around the Internet. James Cameron heard about it and decided to visit Yamaguchi in Japan.
Prior to Cameron’s arrival, Yamaguchi had been hospitalized with cancer and was approaching death. As shown in the film, Cameron held Yamaguchi’s hand and promised to tell his story to the rest of the world. In the film, Cameron said that Yamaguchi “was symbolic of the need to remember.”
Yamaguchi finally opened up and shared his story for the last five years of his life, which is captured in the documentary. On his 91st birthday he said “I think it’s my destiny to pass on that message, and somebody is letting me live because of it.”
The film shows Yamaguchi in the hospital speaking to Cameron in English. He musters his last ounce of strength to say, “I have done my duty.” He died a few days later at the age of 93, in January of 2010.
Inazuka traveled from Tokyo to Irvine and relayed a message to the audience after the screening. Cameron had reportedly contacted him recently with the message that he has “not forgotten his promise.”
Cameron is currently working on the second Avatar film, and according to Inazuka, will begin working on this new film about the twin bombings and nuclear aftermath to coincide with the 70 year anniversary in 2015.
Charles Pellegrino is an author and was also the scientific adviser on Cameron’s Avatar. He traveled with Cameron to meet Yamaguchi and collect data for a book he wrote called The Last Train from Hiroshima: The Survivors Look Back, released in 2010.
The book tells Yamaguchi’s story along with that of other double survivors. The name comes from the real-life hardship that Yamaguchi and others faced.
According to the book, after being knocked down by the first blast in Hiroshima, Yamaguchi tried to leave the city by train. But to get to the train at Koi Station, he had to cross over a wide river full of corpses. The corpses were so numerous that he was forced to use them as a human raft. He finally made it to the train, rode it all the way to his home town of Nagasaki, and was then hit by the second nuclear bomb.
The book is extremely graphic with its depiction of the nuclear bomb and its millisecond-by-millisecond destruction of human beings that underwent the blast. It is also very anti-nuclear, as was Yamaguchi.
Yamaguchi’s real-life story of the dangers of nuclear war will live on through the future film of James Cameron. Although, it remains to be seen how Cameron will handle such a sensitive subject.