Movies · TV

Cary Fukunaga is Directing a Film About Hiroshima

By  · Published on February 20th, 2017

The prolific, multi-platform auteur returns to the big screen canvas.

Deadline reported Thursday that Cary Fukunaga, the masterful director behind Beasts of No Nation and the good season of True Detective, is in talks to helm Shockwave: Countdown to Hiroshima for Universal. The project, which will be scripted by Drive’s Hossein Amini, is based on a non-fiction book by documentarian Stephen Walker about the final days, hours, and minutes before the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945. Given the subject matter and the talent involved, it’s sure to be an emotionally draining nail-biter perfectly suited to Fukunaga’s sensibility.

But hold on a minute – what is that sensibility? Fukunaga is so wildly prolific and versatile that it’s hard to pin down his identity as a filmmaker. To date, he has directed: a taut immigrant thriller (Sin Nombre), a Victorian romance (Jane Eyre), and a drama about child soldiers in Africa (Beasts of No Nation, on which he also served as cinematographer). He’s also helmed an entire southern noir series (True Detective Season 1), a branded short film (Sleepwalking in the Rift), and three episodes of the upcoming Netflix comedy Maniac. Oh, and he’s also the showrunner on Maniac, the co-writer (with Amini) on TNT’s The Alienist, and the co-writer on the upcoming remake of It. Somewhere in there, he also managed to shoot this Birdman-esque oner of Jake Gylenhaal performing a show-tune. And now, as if to prove his mettle to the filmmaking gods, he’ll be tackling arguably the most consequential moment of the last century.

Fukunaga represents a new breed of auteurism, one particular to our multi-platform, multi-media age. He is a writer and director of extraordinary personal vision, but he has been able to purpose that vision across genres, platforms, subjects, and epochs. His work is at once entirely contemporary and curiously classical – a product, perhaps, of having studied history and political science before entering the world of film. Shockwave will undoubtedly give him a chance to bring his history chops to bear, but it’s also a personal story for the Japanese-American director. Fukunaga’s father was born in a Japanese internment camp during the second World War.

Walker’s book is not an easy adaptation. It covers multiple points of view, including those of President Truman, Manhattan Project scientists, and Japanese victims of the attack. It remains to be seen whether Amini’s script will transition the material into a simpler narrative. But one suspects – and hopes – that Fukunaga’s lens on the material will be characteristically lacerating and evenhanded.

Perhaps once he’s finished he’ll even find a moment to sleep.

Writer, filmmaker.