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 (23)
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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

  • 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.

  • Johnson Cockspeed says:

    yeah what you all said. and just sik­ish. cel­e­brate each morn­ing with a repeat­ed view­ing of atmoic bomb footage.

  • Rick says:

    They are the only 2 nuclear attacks on a coun­try! What would you pre­fer they com­pare to the present and the future? There’s no doubt that the US is the ONLY coun­try in the entire world that has ever used nuclear weapons against an ene­my. Stick around though — I’m sure the Russ­ian mon­ster (Vlad) will only be hap­py when he has used those tac­tics as well. Atroc­i­ties that you’re refer­ring to were all con­ven­tion­al in nature. Japan had no nuclear any­thing! It’s a shame when the peo­ple of the only coun­try to ever use a nuclear any­thing on any­one points to some­thing else, almost as if you’d like to dis­tract peo­ple from what our coun­try, the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca, did. I have no more words for you, except this. In today’s world, once you use a nuke, it’s basi­cal­ly game over for most of the world, whether they were hit direct­ly or not. Radi­a­tion in the form of nuclear fall­out will be inescapable, assum­ing you sur­vive the ini­tial blast. Man, there are times (like this), when I ques­tion the san­i­ty of my fel­low Amer­i­cans…

  • Frev says:

    Would of been worse for them if we kept fire bomb­ing every city. Japan is a rot­ten empire. They mas­sa­cred mil­lions of inno­cent peo­ple.

  • Ashoka Palamakumbura says:

    With­out drop­ping two atom­ic bombs USA could have shown its stre­anth to the Japan. Civil­ians are not respon­si­ble for the war. Ulti­mate Civil­ians had to suf­fer for Atom­ic bombs. I think USA has done injus­tices too Japan­ese civil­ians.

  • Your mum says:

    Mel…shut up please nobody real­ly cares because both sides are dumb and shouldn’t of done this and that so yea shut up

  • Your mum says:

    Shut up Mel nobody cares. the us shouldn’t of dropped the bomb­shell on japan and when they did they prob­a­bly killed more peo­ple than the Japan­ese did espe­cial­ly when they dropped two bombs and also with­out the Japan­ese you wouldn’t have ramen noo­dles stu­pid so shut up

  • D.T. Rogers says:

    Dur­ing the ear­ly stages of Japan­ese con­trol of East­ern Asia. Human exper­i­ments were being con­duct­ed on pris­on­ers of war. All result­ing in death, none sur­vived. Cov­er ups were attempt­ed, some leaked out. The US does­n’t have clean hands on this one, still we are not to blame. The sovi­et union was­n’t much bet­ter. Why spend alot mon­ey on devel­op­ment on bio­chem­i­cal weapons when some­one did the work already plus its free? Go see unit 731.

  • Wahdj says:

    Lmao that such the biggest load of BS I’ve ever heard… Lit­er­al­ly the dumb­est sh*t I’ve ever heard…

  • Wahdj says:

    The above is a reply to:

    “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”

  • Wahdj says:

    @Your mum — That is not true at all, not in the case of the Japan­ese. There was hard­ly a prac­ti­cal solu­tion to dis­abling the Japan­ese war machine oth­er than dev­as­tat­ing civil­ian pop­u­la­tions. Unlike most coun­tries in WW2 the Japan­ese almost entire­ly pro­duced all the machin­ery, equip­ment, and ammu­ni­tion for their war machine in civil­ian homes piece­meal, then to be shipped off to oth­er civil­ian hous­es to be assembled/built fur­ther, until even­tu­al­ly they were able to build an entire func­tion­al Zero or a func­tion­al bomb (or any­thing, real­ly).

    I’m not exact­ly con­fi­dent that the US WOULDN’T have bombed civil­ian pop­u­la­tions even if all of Japan’s out­put hap­pened in spe­cial­ly des­ig­nat­ed fac­to­ries and fac­to­ry lines like was the case in Ger­many, Britain, and the US, just because it proved to be such an effec­tive tac­tic in mak­ing coun­tries capit­u­late, but in the case of bomb­ing Japan it was all unfor­tu­nate­ly a nec­es­sary evil. If we did­n’t use the atom bombs we would have fire­bombed all strate­gi­cal­ly impor­tant cities. On top of con­tin­u­ing to dev­as­tate cities with tra­di­tion­al explo­sive and incen­di­ary weapons the war would have also been extend­ed such that Japan would will­ing­ly have been using tens or hun­dreds of thou­sands of civil­ians in an effort to repel the US, will­ing­ly sac­ri­fic­ing them like cat­tle for the sake of “glo­ry” (I believe Japan even had an offi­cial plan put togeth­er for this that’s been report­ed on before, named some­thing like “The glo­ri­ous death of a mil­lion” or some-such).

    And that’s only talk­ing about Japan­ese civil­ians, it’s a sep­a­rate (and arguably more awful) dis­cus­sion to speak of all the inno­cent Asians in Japan­ese-occu­pied coun­tries that would have con­tin­ued to be raped, tor­tured, killed, and forced to kill them­selves in an effort to push US sol­diers back had the war con­tin­ued.

  • Andrea Bennington says:

    @Wahdj. Final­ly there is some­one who knows his­to­ry and what they are writ­ing about. Thank you for tak­ing the time to explain the sit­u­a­tion to the cretins who did not pay atten­tion in World His­to­ry class.

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