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  • Gareth Crook

Barefoot Gen (1983)

Updated: Jul 31, 2019

This has to be one of the most upsetting films about war I’ve ever seen. Even animated it’s difficult to watch. Based on true stories of World War 2 and the atomic bombs dropped on Japan. It’s war from a child’s perspective, as he struggles to survive in Hiroshima in the aftermath. Most of his family dead, the city obliterated, his new born sister starving, it’s intentionally brutal. All the more disturbing after the carefree opening minutes, with jaunty music and innocent abandon, even with the food shortages, the full extent of the ravages of war not yet present. It’s beautifully drawn as expected, but exceptionally graphic when the bomb goes off and these scenes are some of the most difficult to watch, with limbs torn, bodies melting, babies dying in mother arms, it really strives to depict the realities of what happens when you drop an atomic bomb on a populated area. The boy grows up quickly, forced to survive and provide however he can and it’s truly heartbreaking. There’s no Disney happy ending, even with a little spark of hope as the earth attempts to recover with new shoots and signs of life, the reckless waste of war are present to the end. I watched a dubbed version which did feel a little grating in places, I’m sure the original audio would’ve been better, but perhaps I’ve done myself a small favour with this mild distraction. If there was ever an advert for the pointlessness of war, this is it.



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