Trinity and Beyond: The Atomic Bomb Movie

1995 documentary

Rating: 15/20 (Dylan: 16/20)

Plot: The story of the greatest pissing contest in all of human history.

I've had this from my brother for somewhere around seven years. The cover says that some of this is in 3D, but I'm not sure what part that would have been and don't think I have the right equipment (Biff's friend's glasses in Back to the Future) anyway.

This is a great companion piece for The Atomic Cafe. This is the evolution of weapons of mass destruction and some lovely scenes of test explosions. The Atomic Cafe is more about the reaction and psychology of the masses. As a kid growing up during the waning years of the Cold War, I had my share of nuclear holocaust nightmares, visions of mushroom clouds dancing in my head. I'm not old enough for bomb shelter obsessions and turtles telling me to duck and cover, but these two documentaries helped me relive some of the paranoia of my childhood. That's always nice--revisiting past paranoias.

This isn't much different from what I'd assume you could see on the History Channel or something as a pretty basic look at the chronology of the development of these bombs. There's some serious mushroom cloud porn if that's the kind of thing that gets you off, and William Shatner's narration fills in gaps, telling you mostly things that you won't remember anyway. I did enjoy learning that Nagasaki got Fat Man because I thought it was the other way around. That might come in handy for bar trivia nights.

What sets this apart is first the music composed by William Stromberg and performed by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra. It's incredible, one of my favorite scores I've heard this year. It adds gravitas to visuals that don't even need it. I doubt Stromberg composed while watching videos of billowing mushroom clouds, but it almost seems like that destruction is choreographed to the symphony, and it's really cool.

There's a lot of this that is chilling, but what got me was the interview with Edward Teller, the hydrogen bomb's daddy. He talked about how knowledge is power but how others wanted to stop the madness. There's just something chilling about knowing that a whole bunch of people, the people responsible for the evolution of these weapons and not just ordinary guys wetting themselves when they think about Commies reaching for giant red buttons, knew this was all a terrible idea.

My favorite moment in this is the feverish montage that ends this that shows the Chinese getting involved in a feverish montage. Their tests involved a big more pomp and circumstance which was interesting enough, but watching Chinese soldiers charging a mushroom cloud on gas-masked horses was something else.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you had this? oh man. i need to apologise to amy. i thought she had loaned it out.
love the almost innocence with which they tested nuclear bombs not understanding the medical, political, and sociological consequences.