Watch Chilling Footage of the Hiroshima & Nagasaki Bombings in Restored Color

“You saw nothing in Hiroshima. Nothing,” says Eiji Okada in the opening of Alain Resnais’ Hiroshima mon amour. “I saw everything,” replies Emmanuelle Riva. “Everything.” The film goes on to show the effects of the American atomic-bomb attack that devastated the titular city nearly fifteen years before. This was the first many viewers had seen of the legacy of that unprecedented act of destruction, and now, six decades later, the cultural image of Hiroshima has conflated Resnais’ stark French New Wave vision with actual wartime documentary materials. By now, we’ve all seen contemporary photographs (and even film clips) of the fate of Hiroshima and subsequently atomic-bombed Nagasaki. Can we regard this world-historic destruction with fresh eyes?

A Youtuber known as Rick88888888 offers one way of potentially doing so: almost half an hour of colorized (as well as motion-stabilized, de-noised, and otherwise enhanced) footage of not just the explosions themselves, but the ruined Japanese cities and their struggling survivors, the airplanes that performed the bombing, and the United States President who ordered it. “The Japanese began the war from the air at Pearl Harbor,” says Harry Truman in a broadcast on August 6, 1945, the day of the attack on Hiroshima. “They have been repaid many fold. And the end is not yet.” From the President, the American public first learned of the development of an atomic bomb, “a harnessing of the basic power of the universe. The force from which the sun draws its power has been loosed against those who brought war to the Far East.”

As we know now, this was the fruit of the Manhattan Project, the secret U.S.-led research-and-development effort that created the first nuclear weapons. Its success, Truman says, prepared the Allies to “obliterate more rapidly and completely every productive enterprise the Japanese have above ground in any city. We shall destroy their docks, their factories, and their communications. Let there be no mistake; we shall completely destroy Japan’s power to make war.” That they did, although military historians argue about about the justifiability of dropping “the bomb” as well as the exact extent it played in the ultimate Allied victory. But nobody can argue with the striking vividness of these “color” motion pictures of the event itself and its aftermath, which reminds us that the era of potential nuclear annihilation doesn’t belong to the distant past — rather, it’s a chapter of history that has only just begun.

Related Content:

J. Robert Oppenheimer Explains How He Recited a Line from Bhagavad Gita–“Now I Am Become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds”–Upon Witnessing the First Nuclear Explosion

Haunting Unedited Footage of the Bombing of Nagasaki (1945)

The “Shadow” of a Hiroshima Victim, Etched into Stone Steps, Is All That Remains After 1945 Atomic Blast

Hiroshima After the Atomic Bomb in 360 Degrees

Way of Life: Rare Footage of the Hiroshima Aftermath, 1946

Photos of Hiroshima by Hiroshima Mon Amour Star Emmanuelle Riva (1958)

This 392-Year-Old Bonsai Tree Survived the Hiroshima Atomic Blast & Still Flourishes Today: The Power of Resilience

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

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Comments (13)
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  • Mel says:

    I am sick and tired of the focus on the 2 atomic bombs dropped to end WWII. How come these are the focus of the war with Japan when no one discusses the 10s of thousands of people killed by Japan. The numbers killed by Japan are far more (exponentially) than those killed by these bombs. As an aside, the US might not have been involved if the Japanese did not bomb the US in a sneak attack.

    Of course we cannot talk about the atrocities committed by the Japanese in prisoner of war and concentration camps or the “Comfort women” the Japanese took from China and Korea.

  • Fuktrump says:

    Criminals proud of their crimes. United States committed more crimes and atrocities than hitler , the only country in modern history to cause more wars and mayhem worldwide than hitler

  • Jonathan says:

    Spot on Mel!

  • Rick says:

    I once saw a bumper sticker that read. If there had not been a Pearl Harbor there would have never been a Hiroshima. My dad fought the Japanese in Burma China India campaign he was on of the fortunate ones to come home

  • Percy says:

    Japan deserved atomic bomb for their crime committed in asian countries

  • k´lon says:

    Most people of the world, like those in USA or Japan are not in charge of their governments and cannot be fully responsible for crimes their so called leaders plan to commit or have already commited in the name of some fabricated higher morals or etical reasons.
    Guilt of meny horrible acts have been distributed trough colective consciuosness of so called nations, so the real thugs can escape consequnces and avoid justice.
    Infact what government want is total dominance and control over their population either through use of force or trough peoples will to comitment, it can then continue to manipulate public opinion mostly towards its own advantages for the benefit of few.

  • Henry says:

    I agree…that we should discuss the beginning the middle and the end. Just before a civilian prison was liberated for example, the Japanese forces slaughtered many civilians before they fled

  • makedoanmend says:

    It’s become fairly predictable what type of posts will set off a certain type of political response from a certain section of the political spectrum.

    This is one of those posts. If the “West” is portrayed in anything other than a favorable or completely positive light, it sets off an almost pavlovian response these days. Nuance is often replaced by obfuscatory logic; insightfulness replaced by certain belief; and rationality attacked by, well, rationalisation of belief – as if you state something often enough it becomes de facto reality.

    Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Dresden all fall into the war is horrible bucket. I can only conjecture that when it became routine and easy to kill during war and when death is your goal, that dropping a few more bombs just has its own internal logic. I also tend to think the USA used the bombs in a geo-political sense to stop the Russians advancing further down Japan, to end the war quickly, and to notify the rest of the world who was now in charge.

    All war is a human and natural tragedy, and the end of the war saw reprisals that probably suprised no one at the time.

    I suppose in hind sight we might be better trying to learn the lessons about why wars start rather than justifying particular actions or broadly accepting a single narrative that makes us comfortable in our base beliefs rather than acknowledging the full spectrum of horror that all humans unleash on each other and the justifications we use to be horrible.

    On balance, WWII came to a successful conclusion for democratic peoples. Yee just have to wonder how much longer democracy will last. It’s certainly under pressure at the moment.

  • Mary Adams says:

    Hear, hear! The Nanking Massacre resulted in the murder of 300,000 Chinese civilians alone by the Japanese troops. This does not include every other massacre they were responsible for on mainland China, and multiple other islands in the Pacific. The U. S. didn’t come anywhere close to the number of civilians killed by the Japanese troops. Nor did our soldiers make a game of how many people they could kill! It is amazing to me that the U. S. is always potraited as the “bad guys” in every conflict, regardless of the situation. I am sick of it! A lot of you fools need to read a little bit and get the facts, before spouting nonsense! And it would behoove many of the nay-sayers to also read about the tortures of American, Australian, French, Dutch, Chinese, Phillipino, Korean, etc. POW’s who were systematically beaten, starved, worked to death, beheaded, burned alive, and buried alive, used for bayonet practice, etc. Japanese soldiers made the “SS” look like choir boys. And in all of this, Japan has never apologized for the atrocities, paid their debt to the U. S. for monies we lent them to rebuild, nor paid ANY fines that were assessed by the world Court for war atrocities and damages. Don’t ever mistake the U. S. for being the bad guys here. Internationally the Germans were much more reviled, brought to see their problems and continue to educate their children about the “Holocaust”. The Japanese have never even acknowledged their atrocities, nor paid any retribution!

  • Glen says:

    BS, read your history, we didn’t start the way with Japan or Germany, Hilter had millions killed before we ever got into the war.



  • Chosey says:

    Your knowledge of history rivals that of a 5 year old. Please shut the hell up for everyone with a brain’s sake.

  • Joanna says:

    Evil. Absolute evil. Imagine being this proud of your ability to decimate a city and its civilians this way. Pointing out the destruction to the school like it’s an achievement. All the innocent people who were killed, including children. How can anyone look at this and feel PRIDE???? How can anyone look at this and want to CELEBRATE???? Absolutely disgusting.

    Shame on the U.S.A. Shame on us. I hope every single person involved in the planning and/or development and deployment burns in hell for eternity for this, along with every single person that celebrated it. There are no words to describe how utterly abhorrent this is.

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