Some other opinions, many listed above:
It’s got NO comment-- no narration whatsoever. Everything stands on its own.
Agreed, but what I love about the film is the way that their choices of film clips and the juxtapositions they choose give their intended comment without the need for explicit narration.
Like when they cut from the animated explanatory film that says that alpha and beta radiation can’t enter your body except through cuts or if you ingest or inhale it, which then cuts to a reporter interviewing one of the soldiers at one of the “war games” tests “So did you keep your head down or did you get a mouthful of dirt [after the bomb went off]?” “I got a mouthful of dirt!”
And one clip that had absolutely nothing to do with atomic bombs, but I think they found it and HAD to throw it in. “Richard Nixon helps ring the bell for Mental Health, saying mental health is one of our country’s leading problems”
Interesting list, but more strange than unique - like Barton Fink.
I misinterpreted the OP to address ‘unique entertainment’. Barton Fink is fortunately unique, but not entertaining. Perhaps all bad movies are uniquely bad.
Though it was surprising to see VP Nixon call mental health America’s biggest problem, I think the clip was relevant since it was in the middle of discussions of fallout shelters, duck and cover maneuvers and general Cold War anxiety. A powerful documentary without any comment. So that’s pretty unique.
Nope – check it again. The section with Richard Nixon and “ringing the bell for mental health” has absolutely nothing to do with fallout shelters or “duck and cover”. It could have been excised without touching those points. In that sense, it was completely gratuitous – but irresistible if you’re not a fan of Nixon.
Because there is no commentary, the viewer is left to their own devices to interpret the content and order (far from chronological) of the archival footage.
It is highly unique. An important movie. If it is a movie. (I deem it so.)
Each clip is its own thing. I agree the surprising Nixon clip by itself makes no comment on nuclear power or the Cold War.
However, I did not conclude it as out of context due to the obvious anxieties associated with overall topic. You may disagree with that, but we still agree the clip was too irresistible not to use in any case.
The clip I found most jarring was the removal of the friendly natives from the Bikini Atoll. Their reaction to a translation of (words to the effect of) “We’re going to be doing an important experiment for the betterment of mankind” and complete trust in those greatly indifferent to their situation.
I actually support nuclear power and can understand why it was used in WW2. However, the industry remains in an uphill battle to restore faith in policies and procedures. Like the Silicon Valley ethos of “do it anyway”, it has consequences that will affect generations in unknown and unsettling ways. That is one reason this film deserves to be better known.
You might want to have a look at the documentary Half-Life: a parable for the nuclear age
I came in her to post Greenaway’s Drowning by Numbers.
But Prospero’s Books will do just fine.
As will The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover.
I saw the film when it was new, which was, like, 1983, so my memory may be a little fuzzy, but first, you have to remember that it was the Reagan administration, and Reagan was famous for simply ignoring anything that he couldn’t answer. He never said “AIDS” once during his time in office.
Nixon calling anything else our biggest problem was sort of his version of never saying “AIDS.”
Also, the film was pretty much about nuclear war, IIRC, not so much about nuclear power.
I’d agree with what you say. You clearly have a good memory and an extensive knowledge of film.
I found all these movies, which some of my friends loved, very pretentious and nearly unwatchable.
Still, I have to say they were unique.
I’m Interested in this documentary but I’m also a coward. How graphic is it?
The Atomic Cafe? There are some shots of victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but aside from those, not very graphic at all. Judgment at Nuremberg is much more graphic. --Unless you consider the shots of bombs exploding that don’t show any living things being hurt, in and of themselves graphic, then, no it’s not for you.
Thanks. Sounds like I’ll be able to handle it.
Most of the images are images that have been released before, albeit, a few may not have had a US release, It’s the juxtaposition, and the relentlessness that make the movie. It’s hard to recreate seeing it during the actual era of nuclear proliferation. But just bearing that in mind goes a long way.
The remarks on Atomic Cafe made me think of another unique movie (albeit only 32 minutes, so it might not qualify). Night and Fog (Nuit et Brouillard (1956) in the original French), which documented Nazi atrocities with shots of Auschwitz only a few years after the evil there. Unique in that once it has been seen, anything else dealing with the Holocaust, no matter how well done, will always be compared to the real things seen in this movie.
Oh, another one I haven’t seen mentioned; Fantastic Planet (1973), which used very primitive (even for the time) art in stop motion to tell a rather…well, fantastical Science Fiction tale which, as far as I can tell, has never been repeated, at least in animation circles.
IMHO as always. YMMV.
the animation wasn’t that unusual. I’ve seen lots of examples like it, and many even less smooth.
In any event, the film isn’t completely unique. The director, Rene Laloux, made another animated science fiction film in 1987 – Gandahar. Isaac Asimov wrote the English-language script for it, and Christopher Plummer, Glenn Glose, Penn and Teller (yes! Teller speaks!) and Bridget Fonda did some of the voices. It was released as Light Years in the US
Teller speaks a lot in public now, including his several-episode appearance as Amy’s father on TBBT, but throughout the 80s and 90s, he maintained a very guarded public silence.
When I was in college (late 80s), I babysat for a family, the mother of which was a first cousin of Teller’s, who told me that that family had been asked please not to tell anyone (the press especially, but anyone) whether he was even capable of oral speech.
That seems a bit weird. Teller speaks in the 1989 movie Penn and Teller get Killed.
I’ve actually heard Teller speak quite a few times in different places, but it’s still vastly outnumbered by the times he doesn’t.