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'Barefoot Gen' Japanese Animation film screening.
HIROSHIMA in the early summer of 1945, was a city, like many other Japanese cities, serving the ravages of war. The tower of Hiroshima castle rises to the blue sky. Within this unnatural citizens continue frugally.
NAKAOKA GEN is a normal, active young boy, who is a second grader in the local elementary school, and is living with his parents, an older sister, EIKO, and his younger brother, SHINJI. Although poor, they are living as well as they can, by supporting each other. GEN’s father, DAIKICHI, is critical about the war and always tells his children that they must live strongly, like wheat plants which grow even though they are trodden. His pregnant mother, KIMIE, although very hungry herself, gives up her sweet potato, because her children are begging for food. GEN is proud of his family and is looking forward to seeing the new baby who is expected to be born soon.
On August 6th, carrying atomic bombs, the U.S. bomber Enola Gay takes off from Tinian Base and sets a course towards KYUSHU. Because of the cloud cover, the original target city of KOKURA is spared, but Hiroshima is chosen as the alternative.
At 8:15 in the morning, the bomb is dropped. Intense pale lightning flashes. The tower of Hiroshima castle is destroyed, and rows of houses collapse. Thousands of burned corpses pile up and other thousands of people with pieces of glass impaling their bodies are bleeding and dying.
GEN miraculously survives, but running back to his home, he witnesses his father, his sister, and his brother trapped under the collapsed house. He and his mother try desperately to save them, but their efforts fail. GEN and a neighbour, realizing it is hopeless, carry GEN’s mother away from the now flaming house. They watch in helpless horror. GEN’s mother gives birth prematurely, with her son’s assistance. The little girl is named TOMOKO, friend by a proud older brother.
On August 15th, Japan’s Government surrenders. Some neighbours pass by and profess their grief. GEN’s mother says “Why not sooner!”
Obtaining food becomes so difficult that GEN’s mother and the baby suffer from malnutrition. One day, GEN meets a boy named RYUTA who resembles his dead brother. RYUTA joins GEN’s family for he has lost his family in the A-bomb attack. They find a job taking care of a promising young artist, SEIJI, who was badly burned over 90% of his body by the fires that broke out after the bombing. At first SEIJI, embittered by his condition, takes his anger out on GEN and RYUTA. GEN, angered finally by his behaviour, tells him that he has no right to self-pity, for many others have also suffered. He tries to paint again, but his injuries are too severe, and he dies.
GEN and RYUTA are paid 100 yen for their care of SEIJI, and they hurry off to buy powdered milk for his little sister with the money they painstakingly earned. It comes too late, for she has died from lack of food.
Upon the barren fields, GEN and RYUTA see wheat sprouting. Many believed that 70 years would pass before anything can grow. GEN, who has been afraid that he might suffer more after-effects, feels encouraged by the vitality which the wheat shows. He now believes there is a future.