Apocalypse ’45: The Harrowing Reality of the Pacific War

Kamikaze'd Carrier, Photo courtesy by Discovery. Apocalypse '45: The Harrowing Reality of the Pacific War - Factual America Podcast
Kamikaze'd Carrier, photo courtesy by Discovery

Premiering to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the Pacific War’s end, the documentary Apocalypse ’45 combines pristine raw, colour footage of the last months of World War II in the Asia-Pacific theatre with the voices of the two dozen men who lived through the nightmare.

Critically acclaimed director, producer and writer, Erik Nelson, joins us to discuss the making of Apocalypse ‘45Erik shares how he found this never-before-seen footage of the war and made contact with the veterans who had lived through these gruesome events.

He talks about how, as director, he created the narrative of the film and what the creative process looked like. We also learn what it was like for Erik, as producer of Grizzly Man (2005), to work with the legendary director Werner Herzog.

“A good deal of that footage was filmed by a cameraman who was killed on Iwo Jima. He was sealed up in a cave alive. The man literally died to make this footage.” – Erik Nelson

Time Stamps:

00:38 – The trailer for Apocalypse ‘45.
05:08 – The synopsis of the film.
06:09 – Why Erik focused the film on the last year of the Pacific War.
07:36 – How he found out that this footage existed.
09:55 – The amount of footage Erik went through. 
11:58 – Who filmed this footage and why.
15:10 – The harrowing realities of the war that were found on these reels.
17:30 – Discovery’s streaming service and their licensing of the film.
20:55 – What Erik thought when he first saw this footage.
23:18 – The lack of sound that the original footage had.
25:03 – How Erik constructed the narrative and script of Apocalypse ’45.
26:24 – How he made contact with veterans  and how eager they were to tell their stories.
29:50 – The different perspective of the war that Americans and Brits have.
32:34 – Whether it was a right or wrong decision to drop the atomic bomb.
40:04 – How Erik attempted to bring people into the realities of living through the war.
43:53 – Erik’s view of today’s generation.
45:02 – What it’s like to work with Werner Herzog.
47:07 – The next project Erik’s working on.
48:50 – The popularity and future of archive films.  


Apocalypse ‘45 (2020)
The Cold Blue (2018)
A Gray State (2017)
Grizzly Man (2005)
Encounters at the End of the World (2007)
Thank God for the Atomic Bomb, a book by Paul Fussell
Dinotasia (2012)  
This is Distorted
Alamo Pictures

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Episode 59