While textual representations of the Fukushima disaster and its aftermath provide a conduit for the imagination to construct the scenario, visual depiction renders the landscape with visceral immediacy. “A Journey To Namie” is a short visual documentary by Sulfikar Amir, a professor at Nanyang Technological University and a scholar in the field of Science & Technology Studies. The documentary presents a journey that the director takes with his guide to Namie, a town caught in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster. The journey is shot through the first-person perspective of the director. The audience is privy to this perspective and views Namie through this viewpoint.
The film takes us through the somber landscape, in the drive to Namie. In the town, the director depicts a kind of humanscape that is devoid of humans. The film emphasizes the mundane: shoes, park benches, cycles, unopened bottles of wine. These objects make the viewer wonder about the people who once completed the equation of this humanscape. The movie ends with information on the uncertain future of the inhabitants of Namie.
Questions for undergraduates:
- Every documentary is a political (and aesthetic) creation. In this light, and considering the context of the Fukushima Disaster, deconstruct and comment upon the director’s journey. Emphasize the themes and symbols that the director depicts.
- Two major themes of the film are spatiality and materiality. Critically examine these themes in terms of the pre-disaster and post-disaster scenarios. [Prompt: What does spatio-material dimension of the movie add to scholarly knowledge of Disaster Studies].
- Diagram the actor-network relations for Namie based on the information presented in the movie.
Additional question for science fiction buffs:
- Compare the theme and setting of the movie with the one presented in the sci-fi short story, “There Will Come Soft Rains,” by Ray Bradbury (http://www.gs.cidsnet.de/englisch-online/originals/soft_rains.htm)
Vivek Kant, Nanyang Technological University