New documentary depicts the end of WWII through rare footage, firsthand accounts

Top stories from across Hawaii and around the world, as seen on the 6 p.m. news broadcast from Hawaii News Now.
Updated: Sep. 1, 2020 at 5:07 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A new documentary, “Apocalypse ’45,” chronicles the final year of the war in the Pacific that ultimately led to Japan’s surrender and the end of World War II.

Director Erik Nelson calls his new film a time machine that immerses the viewer in the war experience.

“You are not watching a movie about 1945, you are in 1945,” he said.

Nelson combines restored footage taken by war photographers with first-hand accounts from two dozen World War II veterans.

“I was aware of the existence of this extraordinary color footage and I was aware of the ticking clock with our veterans. All of them are in their mid- to late 90s. They simply aren’t going to be around much longer to tell their stories,” he said.

The 90-minute documentary includes film taken by legendary Hollywood director John Ford that shows Pearl Harbor just months after Japan’s attack.

“No one has seen this before,” Nelson said. “It has been hiding in plain sight in the National Archives, mislabeled. When we discovered it we knew that had to be used in the film to some degree.”

He wants his audience to come away with a better understanding of what brought the war to a close.

“If you understand the sacrifices these guys gave to give us the country we have today it might help us put things in perspective,” he said.

The film was supposed to be shown in the shadow of the USS Missouri Battleship as part of the 75th commemoration ceremony taking place Wednesday. But COVID-19 concerns canceled that plan.

It’s now available online. To watch “Acopalypse ’45” go to

Copyright 2020 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.