Pulling 'Hereafter' From Post-Tsunami Japan Won't Help With Healing

Maressa Brown

hereafter movie dvdThe solution to enduring the aftermath of last week's horrific earthquake and tsunami in Japan is apparently not a Clint Eastwood movie. Hereafter, which was directed by Eastwood, executive produced by Steven Spielberg, and stars Matt Damon, shows a special effects-filled re-creation of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami in Southeast Asia. Although the flick has been playing on Japanese screens since February (it was released in the U.S. in October), it's being pulled from theaters. Warner Entertainment Japan Inc. says that thanks to the tsunami scenes, the film is simply "not appropriate" for Japanese audiences now.

Surely, this was a case of poor timing, but I really don't think it would have been a big deal to keep the movie screening at this point. It was only set to run through the end of this month anyway. I can't imagine too many people in Japan are heading out to the movies right now and/or would want to go see a movie depicting a tsunami, but what if they did?

Can't Japanese movie-goers decide for themselves if the movie would be too much to bear? Warner Bros shouldn't feel like they have to "hide" a depiction of a tsunami from the Japanese people. They've seen the real thing on the news or in person. A movie, which only covers the topic in the first sequence or so of the film, isn't going to make what really happened better or worse. And yanking the film from theaters isn't going to help the Japanese heal any faster.

Obviously, it's not exactly the same thing, but I remember how immediately post-9/11 just how hair-trigger Hollywood got about every little reference to terrorism or scenes showing the Twin Towers. Oh, no, Hollywood execs worried! Let's get rid of that quick pan across the New York city skyline in August 2001, because it might upset American audiences to see the WTC! They altered Zoolander and Serendipity, among others. The Bourne Identity (Matt Damon again!) had to be "heavily edited" due to its plotline about terrorism. Even though that flick was based on a BOOK! (I guess it turned out to be very loosely based!)

It's so wild to me. I just don't get how trying to erase history is going to make current, tragic events easier to cope with.

When you take a step back from the situation, Japanese movie-goers would probably not want to see that opening sequence of Hereafter after what they've just been through. And with only a couple of weeks left of the movie's run, it doesn't make that big a difference if they pull it now. But I just hate when a big company is trying so hard to be PC that they end up second-guessing the public. We can decide for ourselves if a movie's subject matter is too traumatic for us to view.

Do you think it was right for Warner Bros to pull Hereafter from Japanese theaters?


Image via Hereafter.WarnerBros.com

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