Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2019

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Film Studies

First Advisor

Jeanne Liotta

Second Advisor

Melinda Barlow

Third Advisor

Marcia Yonemoto

Streaming Media URL



Despite living in a modern world, there remains a lingering fear that we will make the same mistakes as those who came before us; in politics, social rights, and most haunting of all, crimes of war. As a Japanese-American, with family in Japan still affected by the aftermath of WWII, and relatives who were wrongfully interned, this concept of a visual poem of sorts, has been a passion project of mine for many years. Moments Before illustrates the idea that the past is destined to repeat itself, unless drastic changes are made; not only for nuclear war, but for events of great trauma in general. This film is about the fear of that cyclical past realized, and shows the horrifying ‘moments before’ an impending attack, and the journey of one family’s experience of that time. My goal for Moments Before is to create a visual depiction for the resilience of the Japanese people, namely through the horrors of Hiroshima / Nagasaki, and US internment camps, although the latter aspect is not addressed directly, it is implied to be present. The title of the project also refers to a more general idea of the past, and anything predating the present day’s predicament. The film incorporates elements of documentary, such as archival footage of World War II nuclear test footage, rarely seen images of the survivors of the attacks on Japanese citizens, and a perspective from the United States. Much like one of this film’s key inspirations, The Thin Red Line (Malick 1998), Moments Before refrains from vilifying any one side, and aims to portray the horrors of war as just that: mistakes of the past. By taking a more objective approach to the historical accuracy, yet a subjective point of view for the emotional facet of the story, this film is able to blur the line between good and evil, necessity and overkill, positive prayer and blind devotion, and the varying levels of desperation to save oneself and loved ones in such a time of crisis. While the film serves as an allegory to the past in many ways, and historical accuracy is important in the sense of building a believable future from elements of the past, Moments Before should still be contextualized in the bigger picture of a fictional narrative. It is not a premonition, but a cautionary tale; and a tribute to the pain that comes with death and rebirth, of both physical rebuilding, and the preservation of culture and heritage.