James Cameron Options Last Train to Hiroshima

hiroshima_cameron

While in Japan to promote Avatar, James Cameron visited Tsutomu Yamaguchi, who until his death this week was the only man to have been officially recognized as a survivor of the bombs dropped on both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. While visiting Yamaguchi, Cameron pledged to “pass on his rare and harrowing experience to future generations.” Because Cameron was accompanied by author Charles Pellegrino, speculation arose that the director might be developing a film based on Pellegrino’s book Last Train to Hiroshima, which will be published on January 19. Indeed, that’s exactly what is happening.

Now we know that Cameron has indeed optioned the book, but the project is in very early stages, and isn’t yet set up at his own production company Lightstorm Entertainment or at Fox. This is the point where Cameron will be looking into a lot of possible projects, even with legacy options like The Dive already in development. He’s said recently that he’s less interested in producting movies for others to direct, because it takes too much time without offering the satisfaction of directing. Which isn’t to say that he’ll necessarily direct this; it’s one of a handful of possible films in front of him.

According to Variety, the book “takes place over two days and weaves together eyewitness accounts of the Japanese civilians and American pilots who experienced the atomic explosions firsthand. According to the book, 30 people are known to have fled Hiroshima for Nagasaki — where they arrived just in time to survive the second bomb. Yamaguchi was the sole survivor who experienced the full effects of the detonations at ground zero both times.”

No doubt a powerful dramatic film could be made based on the material in Pellegrino’s book. But given Cameron’s definitive lack of subtlety, I’d be afraid of the disaster porn potential inherent in the material. I’d actually quite like to see him make a documentary based on the book, but at this point the nature of the project can only be speculated upon. Which do you think would be a better fit for the filmmaker?

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