**This review contains spoilers**
All That Remains is a feature length film produced by independent film company, Pixel Revolution Films. I got the opportunity to see it during a charity screening at Yorkgate, Belfast. It tells the story of Takashi Nagai, a Christian doctor who lived in Nagasaki at the time of the atomic bombing which claimed the life of his wife. His memory has been immortalised through the books he wrote in the final years of his life, including The Bells of Nagasaki and Leaving My Beloved Children Behind. I was first introduced to his work when I bought an English translation of Leaving My Beloved Children Behind in Nagasaki, and was thrilled to find out that a film was being made about Nagai’s life.
The film deals with Nagai’s life from his time as a medical student right up to his death at the age of 43. The first half deals with the years leading up to the Second World War. As a student he lives with the Moriyama family, leaders of the local Kakure Kirishitans group, which literally means Hidden Christians, a term harkening back to the time when Christianity was outlawed in Japan and driven underground. Thanks to their influence he attends church and eventually converts to Christianity. He marries the Moriyama’s daughter, Midori, and they have two children, Makoto and Kayano. Not mentioned in the film are his two other daughters who both died in infancy. Nagai became involved in radiology research and it is likely that his research caused him to develop leukaemia. Despite this, he continued working day and night, especially when the war pushed the hospital he worked in to its limits.
Then comes 9th August 1945, when an atomic bomb is detonated over Nagasaki. Nagai and his children survive, but Midori is killed instantly. The film portrays the utter devastation of the bombing and its aftermath in graphic detail. However, even in the face of such profound tragedy, Nagai returned to teaching in due course. He also fought censorship policy in order to publish several books, which were written while he was bedridden with cancer. He gained worldwide fame in the final years of his life, and was visited by many influential figures including Helen Keller.
The Christian influence behind All That Remains is evident throughout. The title is based on 1 Corinthians 13:13: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Even in the face of utter devastation, love never dies. Nagai and the other Christians in Nagasaki retain their faith in God even when they have lost homes, family and their livelihoods. Also referenced in the film through neat animated segments are the 26 Martyrs of Japan, who were killed for their faith in the 1500s. The overall theme is clear: we may lose everything in this life, but God is always with us and we have ultimate hope in eternal life.
As for the technical aspects, I am no film critic, but initially some of the special effects did not blend in with the rest of the scene and looked a bit fake, particularly the falling snow. However, it more than redeemed itself later on with the bombing sequences and the subsequent landscapes of atomic destruction. The visuals were truly harrowing, especially the very realistic looking keloid scars that several of the characters suffered.
In conclusion, this was the first feature-length independent film I have ever seen, and although it did not have a multi-million dollar Hollywood budget, it more than makes up for it in the richness of the narrative. The website for Pixel Revelation Films states that they produce films, “with an emphasis on story and compelling visuals.” I couldn’t agree more.