What is the main argument of the video?
The main argument of the documentary Untold History of the US. Episode 3 (directed by Oliver Stone) is that the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the US should be referred to for what it was – one of the most despicable crimes against humanity, committed during the WW3. To substantiate the validity of this idea, the director refers to several historically proven actualities. The main of them is concerned with the fact that there was no military necessity in bombing both cities.
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Summarize the video from start to finish
Even though Untold History of the US. Episode 3 does not feature any structural sub-chaptering; there is much discursive integrity to how the off-screen narrator goes about substantiating the soundness of the promoted ideas logically. In its turn, this can be explained by the fact that the director had made a deliberate point in exposing the nuclear bombing of both Japanese cities, as such that has been predetermined dialectically. This explains the strongly defined analytical essence of the film’s argumentative logic, and the sub-sequential order of the narrator’s discursively unconventional claims, upon which this logic is based. As viewers watch the film, they get to find out the following:
- President Truman was an ardent racist, who considered it thoroughly appropriate to refer to the Japanese as ‘yellow monkeys’ in public. The same used to be the case with most members of his Administration (except Stimson and Wallace), who was involved in deciding to drop nuclear bombs on Japan. This created the objective preconditions for the concerned individuals not to bother assessing the would-be consequences of such their decision from a moral perspective.
- During the WW2, the Allies (Anglo-American) never had any reservations against killing civilians en masse, whatsoever. To support the legitimacy of his suggestion, the narrator refers to the Anglo-American bombing of Dresden on February 13, 1945, which resulted in 150.000 German civilians having been burned alive. To kill as many women and children, as possible, was the main objective of the nuclear bombing of Japan, as well.
- Truman’s insinuation that the bombing-induced incineration of close to 250.000 civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki has helped ‘saving millions of American lives’, is blatantly fallacious. After all, as it was shown in the documentary, in the aftermath of both bombings, the Japanese remained unaware that they have been attacked with nuclear weapons. It was namely the USSR’s entrance into the war and the US Government’s promise not to hang Japanese Emperor Hirohito, which compelled the Japanese to capitulate.
The documentary ends with the narrator claiming that most Americans possess a distorted view of their country’s history.
Does the video give time to opposing viewpoints? If so, are opposing viewpoints treated in an equal manner? Why or why not?
Untold History of the US. Episode 3 does acknowledge that there are opposing viewpoints on the subject matter in question. However, the film exposes them as such that does not hold any water, whatsoever. For example, after having mentioned the American official standpoint on the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, according to which there was no way to avoid such a development, the narrator comes up with factual evidence in support of the idea that the destruction of both Japanese cities did not have anything to do with military logic.
Rather, Truman’s decision to proceed with dropping nuclear bombs on Japan was dictated by his desire to horrify Stalin, so that the USSR would not interfere with America’s plans to establish its strong presence in post-war Southeast Asia. It must be acknowledged that this point of view does appear thoroughly credible – while promoting it, the narrator never ceases to make references to a number of the commonly overlooked historical facts of relevance.
How does the documentarian use sounds, video, images, camera movements, etc. to convey their message?
Among the film’s main strengths can be named the fact that the director succeeded in choosing the thematically adequate musical themes in d-minor (composed by Wagner and Shostakovich) to be heard in the background, as the narrator continues to elaborate on the significance of the nuclear holocaust in Japan. While exposed to it, viewers are more likely to realize the sheer magnitude of the tragic event in question, as well as what kind of effect did it have on establishing the postwar world order. The documentary’s visuals are limited to the archival footage of the related historical events with the off-screen narrator explaining what accounts for their discursive connotations. The used editing technique is consistent with the provisions of cinematographic Realism – something that does make much sense, given the film’s genre of a documentary.
How does this video strengthen or undermine what we have discussed or read in class?
The film’s argumentative stance does contradict the conventional outlook (the one that we have discussed in class) on what should be deemed a proper interpretation of the nuclear bombing of Japan. This simply could not be otherwise – according to the governmentally endorsed view of the event, the Japanese are themselves to be blamed for what happened to them. Had they been smart enough to surrender earlier, there would be no need in having hundreds of thousands of them burned alive.
President Truman was an outstanding person – a devout Christian, a father to his children, a husband to his wife, etc. Truman would normally never give out the order to nuke Japan, and it is only because this highly admirable man was confronted with the impossible circumstances in the summer of 1945 that he was left with no choice but to give ‘go ahead’ – doing this with a heavy heart. In the aftermath of the bombing, Truman never ceased feeling sorry for the poor victims. At the same time, however, he persisted to remain strongly convinced that he did the right thing and that if some ‘Japs’ ended up being turned into human torches – it is just too bad.
The documentary, on the other hand, tells something different: Truman was a bible-thumping racist, who in a similar manner with Hitler used to contemplate the extermination of millions of civilians without experiencing even the slightest remorse as if these people were nothing but cockroaches. If it was not up to the USSR’s first testing of its nuclear bomb in 1949, this megalomaniac would have tried plunging the world into WW3 as early, as during the following year.
Explain why the video was or was not engaging? Also, explain why the video was or was not educationally valuable?
The film did prove strongly engaging – all because it tells the truth. Its educational value is concerned with the fact that it enlightens people about the fact that it was named the Soviet declaration of war on Japan, which compelled the Japanese government to surrender to the US and not the nuclear incineration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Often when a film ends it leaves you with more questions than answers. Write down two questions you would have liked answered after watching the film
My two questions are: Why does it never occur to our politicians in high offices that America’s commitment to the protection of ‘human rights’ worldwide is seen as highly hypocritical by the rest of the world? Will there ever be a time when the US ends up paying some monetary compensation to the Japanese?
The Untold History of the United States – Season 1. “The Untold History of the United States. Episode 3.” YouTube video. 2015. Web.