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 (22)
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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.

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