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This short film debuted just after WWII ended. I doubt if it could have
been done the same way had it come out before the last bomb was dropped
on Japan. That's because the film is very straight-forward--without a
lot of the typical propaganda language of films from 1942-1945. The
enemy was neither demonized nor humanized in this film...it simply
chronicles the bombing campaign in the Pacific against the Japanese.
While this will no doubt come off as dry, it is very important
historically--giving us a nice glimpse into the past.
By the way, I noticed another reviewer was critical that the film did not show the victims of the bomb blasts. Well, considering how bloody the war was, there certainly was no desire by the average American to see this--they just know they'd been attacked and their children were forced to go off and fight in a war. It's pretty easy today to be critical of the past--but in context, what else was there to do?! Good history should neither be filled with propaganda nor colored to satisfy modern sensibilities.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This documentary was nominated for the Academy Award for Documentary,
Feature, losing to The True Glory. There will be spoilers ahead:
This documentary is more or less just that-a documentary, about the bombing campaign conducted in 1945 against the Japanese empire during the closing months of World War II. It discusses the bases at Guam, Saipan and Tinian. It goes over the painstaking preparations of the air crews and ground crews before a mission. A flight is shown, though it's fairly obvious that the scenes with a bomber crew are staged. Portions of this are "reenactments" and portions look to be newsreel footage shot by military cameramen.
The fire-bombing of Tokyo is touched on, as is the taking of Iwo Jima. The fighter escorts for the bombers are shown. The arduous, time-consuming nature of the missions is shown, as is the toll taken on the crews and the tension in the mission.
A couple of crashes are shown, as are the rescue efforts to try to save planes and crews. The piece closes with a brief comment on the last two bombs dropped, the atomic bombs which ended the war, hence the title. This isn't really about those two bombs. Their mention almost seems like an anticlimax.
This is well worth watching and can be found online.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The B-29 Bomber stands out as a beautiful plane but a deadly one. The
blood on it's massive wings for it's carpet bombing of the Japanese is
shown, but only from the air. The hundreds of Bombs go hurtling down,
their impact puffs of smoke on Japan.
But who can not be impressed by this huge bird as it flies across the screen? Watch it barely clear a runway, see a squadron of B-29's above the ocean. See the men who flew it from dawn to dusk, risking their for destroying the enemy.
Best footage of the P-51D Mustang in combat I have ever seen. They shine in the sun as they turn and roll and open fire. Watch them destroy everything from fighters to ships.
See the Atomic Bomb blast rising in into, smoking in terrible satisfaction.
As you watch, you see it depicts the final days of the ill fated Japanese Empire and the triumph our Flyboys gave to the United States and the World!
The documentary is technically superb, apart from some rather boring
repetitive air combat scenes (irrespective real people was being shot
in the making), for everyone in the right side, from General LeMay to
the least Chamorro folk strolling down some Guam street appears acting.
The funny thing is that there is no face for the enemy.
We never see what happens when the napalm hits the wooden houses many feet below. We don't see the face of the victims.
One can naturally argue 'The Last Bomb' is a paradigmatic WWII propaganda movie, aimed to insufflate enthusiasm into every American heart. But even then, it's hard to believe the average spectator not having the least curiosity on the fate of the people in the wrong side of the film.
'The Last Bomb' is an interesting product, not only showing the massive destruction chain production American approach, but the sociology (maybe pathology) of a crazy age.
But... what was happening in the wrong side of this documentary, under the shinny armored bellies of the B-17 bombers? Take a look at 火垂るの墓, Hotaru no Haka, Grave of the fireflies, and find out.
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