Accessible Films on Hiroshima/Nagasaki and Nuclear Weapons

There are many films about the atomic bomb, the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the dangers we face from nuclear weapons.  The following is offered as a short list of films easily available through popular media channels which touch on basic information, personal stories and some of the myths of our nuclear age.  These stories illustrate the profound truth of the Hibakusha: Human beings and nuclear weapons cannot co-exist. 

To begin with, here is a 17 minute clip of actual US military footage, withheld from Americans for many years, showing the destruction wrought by these bombs. Warning, the images are graphic and disturbing.



The Bomb (2015)
The Bomb is a two-hour 2015 PBS American documentary film about the most destructive invention in human history. It outlines the development of nuclear weapons from theoretical scientific considerations to their first use on August 6, 1945, to their global political implications in the present day. Much of the film footage and images had only been recently declassified by the United States Department of Defense. It is available to PBS members.
White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
White Light/Black Rain is a powerful HBO documentary film. It was released on August 6, 2007, marking the 62nd anniversary of the first atomic bombing. The film uses extensive interviews with survivors and archival footage, revealing the aftermath of the 1945 atomic bombings. It features interviews with fourteen Japanese survivors and four Americans. In preparation for the film, Okazaki met with more than 500 Japanese survivors of the bombings and collected over 100 interviews before settling on the fourteen subjects featured in the film.IMDB: Light/Black Rain is available for rental or purchase for Amazon Prime members.
The Moment in Time: The Manhattan Project

The Manhattan Project was a research and development undertaking during World War II that produced the first nuclear weapons. It was led by the United States with the support of the United Kingdom and Canada.

The controversial creation and eventual use of the atomic bomb engaged some of the world’s leading scientific minds, as well as the U.S. military. Most of the work was done in Los Alamos, New Mexico, not the borough of New York City for which it was originally named. The Manhattan Project was started in response to fears that German scientists had been working on a weapon using nuclear technology since the 1930s—and that Adolf Hitler was prepared to use it.


Command and Control

Command and Control is a 2016 American documentary film based on the 2013 non-fiction book by Eric Schlosser about the 1980 Damascus Titan missile explosion in Damascus, Arkansas between September 18–19, 1980.  It was released in the United States at the Tribeca Film Festival and then in the United Kingdom at the Sheffield Doc/Fest on June 11, 2016.  

It won the award for Best Documentary Screenplay from the Writers Guild of America and was among 15 on the “shortlist” for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature but was not among the five nominees.



The Man Who Saved The World

The Man Who Saved the World is a 2013 feature-length Danish documentary film about Stanislav Petrov, a former lieutenant colonel of the Soviet Air Defense Forces and his role in preventing the 1983 Soviet nuclear false alarm incident from leading to nuclear holocaust.

The film premiered in October 2014 at the Woodstock Film Festival in Woodstock, New York, winning; “Honorable Mention: Audience Award Winner for Best Narrative Feature” and “Honorable Mention: James Lyons Award for Best Editing of a Narrative Feature.” On February 22, 2018 the film premiered in Russia at the Documentary Film Center in Moscow.


Tsutomu Yamaguchi (March 16, 1916 – January 4, 2010) was a survivor of both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings during World War II.  Yamaguchi, an engineer, was in Hiroshima on business when the city was bombed at 8:15 am, on August 6, 1945.  He was injured but survived and returned to his home in Nagasaki.  The following day, he returned to work on August 9. That morning, a second bomb was detonated in Nagasaki.  

Yamaguchi survived that bomb also and in the early 1950s, he and his wife, also a survivor of the Nagasaki atomic bombing, had two daughters.  

In his eighties, he wrote a book about his experiences (Ikasareteiru inochi), as well as a book of poetry  and was invited to take part in a 2006 documentary about 165 double A-bomb survivors called Twice Survived: The Doubly Atomic Bombed of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which was screened at the United Nations. At the screening, he pleaded for the abolition of atomic weapons.

Yamaguchi became a vocal proponent of nuclear disarmament. Speaking through his daughter during a telephone interview, he said, “I can’t understand why the world cannot understand the agony of the nuclear bombs. How can they keep developing these weapons?”.

YouTube five minute summary: 

History Channel: 


Historical Movies of Interest:
Nuclear Tipping Point
Nuclear Tipping Point is a 2010 documentary film produced by the Nuclear Threat Initiative. At that time, the US and Russia accounted for 95% of the world’s nuclear weapons: around 20,000.  The film follows the work of four American government officials who were in office during the Cold War period and their fight to reduce reliance on nuclear weapons, prevent their use and ultimately end them as a threat to the world.  Former Secretary of State George P. Shultz, former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, and former Senator Sam Nunn tell the stories that led them to writing the January 2007 op-ed by the “four wise men” in the Wall Street Journal entitled, “A World Free of Nuclear Weapons.”  The film was first screened at the White House on April 6, 2010. The film website at features trailers, the full-length film, an interactive timeline and more. The DVD is available in 52-minute and 35-minute lengths online with subtitles in Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, Russian and Spanish.

Watch Nuclear Tipping Point:


Children of Hiroshima It’s post war Hiroshima: four years since the last time she visited her hometown. Takako faces the after effects of the A-bomb when she travels around the city to call on old friends.

Children of Hiroshima (????, Genbaku no Ko, lit. “Children of the Atomic Bomb”)  is a 1952 Japanese  docudrama that appeared at the 1953 Cannes Film Festival. This compelling film, both fiction and documentary, illustrates with painful intensity the human and ethical tragedy of Hiroshima. 

(Japanese, English 1 hr 37 min)

The film is available on Filmbox with Prime Video Channels or Turner Classics

The Nuns the Priests and The Bombs

Follows a community of peace activists, including two Catholic nuns and a Jesuit priest in their eighties, who are willing to go to prison, and even risk death, because of their deeply held conviction that nuclear weapons are immoral and violate international humanitarian law.

Since 1980 activists in lay and religious life have undertaken dramatic Plowshares protests in an effort to raise public consciousness on the growing threat posed by the world’s nuclear weapons. Through their actions the activists seeks to invoke the biblical injunction, “They Shall Beat Their Swords into Plowshares”. This film follows two federal criminal cases against the activists for their protests: the July 2012 break-in at Y-12 in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, home of the largest U.S. stockpile of highly enriched uranium, and the 2009  break-in at the Kitsap Bangor U.S. naval base near Seattle. The film follows the activists’ legal efforts to justify their actions under international law and documents efforts at the United Nations to enforce the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and negotiate the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Available on ITunes, Amazon, Youtube, and Google Play for as Little as $3.99