Among the eight vignettes in Kurosawa’s 1990 film Dreams is “Mount Fuji in Red.” It’s the sixth story, and among the eight dreams, it’s one of the nightmares. It’s a stark, bleak view of a few people discussing——while trying to flee——a nuclear disaster.
Akira Kurosawa: DREAMS (1990) from cinema.antifono on Vimeo.
[Update July 2013: Ugh, someone took down that video. Sorry for the inconvenience. Until I find another version to embed, you can read the relevant script dialogue here.]
I saw this before Japan’s earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster, which began just about two years ago. But where the short film might come off as preachy and reflective of some reflexive late-80s anti-nuclear sentiment, it now evokes the anxieties and concerns about nuclear safety that we’ve come to know as Japan’s “safety myth.” That, as the Times summed it up, “Japan’s nuclear power plants were absolutely safe.”*
“They told us that nuclear plants were safe,” says the woman in the dream. “Human accident is the danger, not the nuclear plant itself. No accidents, no dangers. That’s what they told us. What liars!”
*Or, rather, as the Japan Times put it after the government’s report on the disaster, the myth required ignoring the possibility of rare but extreme events.