The Day the Sun Fell is about the cycles in which man destroys each other. This was going to be a documentary about the generation of older Japanese people. Those who helped each other during the nuclear bomb attacks in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
It’s understandable for people who have lived in important historical times. That not all of them have been at the centre of those events that happened when they were alive. Director Aya Domenig helps juggle their memories through archive footage that she incorporates sensitively with the her ‘present day’ footage.
Mind you, these are people in their 90’s that Domenig are talking to. Sometimes their memories fade before a documentarian speaks to them. Although there are those who remember. And they have a raging yet civil debate on whether or not to talk about the events.
Again, the reluctance to talk about this is understandable. There are those who do want to talk, like Dr. Hira, who gives speeches about his experiences practicing medicine after the attacks.
It’s important that he peaks about this especially since some Westerners believe that the attacks were necessary. The importance of his words are also apparent with the recent events in Fukushima.
The film and its talking heads hint at Japan’s fatalistic culture. It matches that theme with the plaintive notes of its score. But that modest tone slowly turns into fury that these elders have. They’ve had enough of the false ways their country looks at its past and present.
There’s a delicate way that Domenig handles all of this. That’s the best way to approach gnawing questions about whether or not radiation slowly killed a surviving generation. That like her grandfather, that radiation has continually victimized these elders in different ways. And the film brings that sorrow across effectively.