DAI-SANJI SEKIA TAISEN: YONJU-ICHI JIKAN NO KYOFU (1960)
aka The Final War
Article 4166 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Shigeaki Hidaka
Featuring Tatsuo Umemiya, Yoshiko Mita, Yayoi Furusato
What it is: End of the world drama
When an American nuclear bomb is accidentally detonated over Korea, the resulting tensions between the US and the Communist countries escalates into a hot war, with Japan caught in the middle. The story is told from the point of view of a reporter, his girlfriend nurse and their friends and families.
I’m glad to have finally gotten a chance to see this elusive movie (which eventually ended up on my “ones that got away” list), though I’m not surprised that I could only find a copy with no English subtitles or dubbing. Sadly, this is one of those movies that heavily relies on dialogue to tell its story rather than visuals, and if I hadn’t had some handy plot descriptions, I would have been mostly lost, and would have had to rely on the visuals of the final ten minutes (where almost all of the special effects can be found), and a short sequence in which announcements are made in English. Even the plot descriptions are a bit contradictory, with some saying the bomb exploded over South Korea and others saying over North Korea. Still, most of the action is not shown, but announced to the various characters as they listen to the radio. The scenes of panicking people on the run are interesting, and part of the plot seems to hinge on those who are trampled and hurt during the panics. It seems well-directed and well-acted, and, given the subject matter, it’s no surprise that it’s a little depressing. Still, I must hold off on any serious evaluation of this one.