Kamei Fumio Retrospective [Post-War Documentary Films]

The World Is Terrified: The Reality of the “Ash of Death”

(“Sekai wa kyofu suru: Shi no hai no shotai”)
- 1957 / B&W / 16mm (orig. 35mm) / 79 min

Directors: Kamei Fumio, Teshigahara Hiroshi, Osanai Haruo
Photography: Kikuchi Shu, Fujii Yoshitaka, Usuda Junichi, Nishibori Michie
Editing: Shuzui Fusako
Sound: Ohashi Tetsuya, Okuyama Junosuke
Music: Nagasawa Katsutoshi
Narrator: Tokugawa Musei
Lighting: Kume Mitsuo, Aoki Toshio
Producers: Ono Tadashi, Inoue Takeo
Production Companies: Japan Document Film, Saneisha
Source: Japan Document Film

At a time when the USSR and the USA fervently vied to develop nuclear arms, the mass media buzzed with terms inspired by nuclear testing on Bikini Atoll such as the “Daigo Fukuryu Maru Incident,” the “ash of death,” “radioactive tuna,” and “radioactive rain,” and nuclear testing continued, Japan, the only nation to have suffered an atom-bomb attack, felt massive anxiety. “What is the radioactive ash of death?” “What effect does it have on living creatures?” Against the background of the era, the film scientifically describes the terrors of radioactivity with the cooperation of many scientists, physicians and research institutions. After the accident at the Chernobyl atomic power station in 1986, the film was thrown into the spotlight again. It enjoys a reputation as a superior science film and is still widely shown today. At the end of the film, Kamei’s words, ‘the “ash of death,” is a human creation, and so fundamentally different from natural disasters such as earthquakes and typhoons. Consequently, it stands to reason that it could be solved if only humanity were to demand this. I would like to record this here.’ The narrator is Tokugawa Musei, a famous movie orator (benshi) also remembered for Kobayashi Issa (1941). Foreign film distributor Saneisha distributed the film to theaters around the country and also aimed for a wide distribution internationally so that people around the world could see the film. Ogawa Shinsuke once praised it saying, “Kamei really surpasses himself in this amazing film.”

• Kamei Fumio Retrospective [Pre-War Works] Hiking Song | Shape without Shape | An Introduction to Radio: The Audience | School Broadcasting | The Geology of Fuji | Airspace [Pre-War Documentary Films] Shanghai | Peking | Fighting Soldiers | Kobayashi Issa [Post-War Documentary Films] A Japanese Tragedy | Children of the Base | The People of Sunagawa | Wheat Will Never Fall | Still It’s Good to Live | Record of Blood: Sunagawa | The World Is Terrified: The Reality of the “Ash of Death” | Living in a Rough Sea | Fluttering Pigeons | Voice of Hiroshima | Men Are All Brothers | Towards a World without Arms | All Must Live: People, Insects and Birds | All Living Things Are Friends—Lullabies of Birds, Insects and Fish [Feature Films] War and Peace | A Woman’s Life | Become a Mother, Become a Woman | Woman Walking Alone on the Earth [PR and Educational Films] Poem of Life | Invitation to Japanese Architecture | Penmanship | Quiet Construction Methods | Living with Ideas: A Profile of Sharp | Let’s Weave a Rainbow | Hong Kong, Taipei | Norihei Travel Manners | The Southern Cross Is Calling | Wishing for Tomorrow’s Happiness [Other Works] Underwear Makes the Woman | The Models and the Photographer | Kamei on Kamei: A Record of Yesterday’s Film Production Discussion Group | Human Conceit: The World of Director Kamei Fumio