Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Atomic Cafe (1982)

Title: The Atomic Café (1982)

Directors: Jayne Loader, Kevin Rafferty, Pierce Rafferty


If you knew your country had just blown approximately 80,000 people away, would you be parading on the streets all happy and jolly about it? I know I wouldn’t. No matter what my political views might be, I would not be happy and jolly with such knowledge. I’d probably be depressed for a long time at how crazy the world we live in is. Yet this is exactly what happened during 1945, when knowledge spread that the U.S. had “won the war” by blowing the people of Hiroshima away Americans where ecstatic, jumping and dancing on the streets as if the best thing in their lives had just happened. Where all these people nuts? 80,000 lives where blinked away in a matter of seconds and your freaking ecstatic? I mean, no matter what the Japanese did to the U.S.; it’s still thousands upon thousands of innocent people being blown away, innocent people paying for the actions of their countries military. The bombing of Hiroshima didn’t kill the government officials who were at war with the U.S., that atomic monstrosity blew away innocent men, women and children who probably never picked up a gun in their lives; effectively burning them to a crisp in a matter of seconds. This to me is one of the darkest days in human history, along side Hitler and his holocaust; what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki is one of the greatest horrors humanity has ever known!

Mass Grave of Atomic Victims

The Atomic Café is an amazing documentary that shows us how after such a brutal show of force every country and their mother wanted an atomic bomb! It shows us how after the Russians got a hold of atomic weapons as well, atomic paranoia spread through an entire generation, taking over their minds for a very long time. Such was the aura breathed in the United States during the late 40’s and early 50’s. This paranoia is what The Atomic Café captures so well. The documentary expertly gathers military films that prepared their soldiers for an atomic attack; news footage that informed movie goers that the United States had just won the war! It shows us news paper articles from that time and radio shows; T.V. commercials that would sell people the idea of living in an Atomic neighborhood where all the houses had their own underground nuclear shelter! The nuclear paranoia was not only mass hysteria, it was also extremely profitable. The Atomic Paranoia took over the world, they made songs about the atomic bomb, even alcoholic drinks where named after the bomb.

Nagasaki being blown away!

The film shows us how the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima weren’t enough to satiate the hunger of knowledge for this new terrifying weapon, oh no, we had to know more! So what did the U.S. do? They blew up a couple more atomic bombs in different parts of the world to find out the destructive capabilities of this new atomic monster. But of course, the majority of these tests didn’t take place in the vicinity of the United States, their new weapons were tested near Japan and in the Marshall Islands where the largest Nuclear test ever was conducted, this test was called ‘Castle Bravo’. Watch this documentary and you’ll see news footage that actually calls the nuclear blast ‘a beautiful site’ to behold. Want to see how the United States military convinces the natives of Bikini Island to get the hell out of their little island because they want to tests atomic weapons on it? Look no further then the military films gathered in The Atomic Café. I can completely relate to this, the U.S. military actually tested their weapons in a small island next to Puerto Rico called Vieques; that is until the people of Puerto Rico and Vieques kicked them out, people where dying of cancer left and right!  

See how the government prepared children to react when a nuclear blast hit U.S. shores! They even created a cartoon character called ‘Bert the Turtle’ that sang a song that taught kids to duck and cover! As if this would help at the hour of a nuclear blast! Ducking and covering would only get you charred to a crisp in this position, nothing else. This is really an outstanding documentary; it is chilling because it is real. I cant recommend it enough As some of you many know, I’m a humanist, and things like war and nuclear weapons simply make no sense to me. Seeing all these people in such a state of paranoia simply made me feel sorry for them, seeing the government manipulate and openly lie to them made me feel even worse. Ever seen a government tell people not to worry so much about a nuclear explosion? Because in a nuclear explosion on 15% of the population would die? That worrying so much over so little makes no sense? Such things where said to Americans by their government during those nuclear scare days. Hell, I couldn’t believe it when I saw the footage of a nuclear test where they actually had soldiers walk towards the nuclear blast! How freaking stupid where those guys? Guinea pigs for sure!

Stare right at it kids, dont worry, the radiation is the least of your worries!

We don’t have such worries during our times, but who knows when our governments might decide to start up another nuclear paranoia? The people of Japan actually lived through a post-apocalyptic time thanks to the bombs, this is something that is still reflected in the films they make. The best example is of course, Gojira (1954) a film that completely mirrors how the Japanese people felt about the bombs and atomic power. The creature known as Godzilla embodies everything that they feared about Americans and their atomic weapons! Godzilla was a creature that destroyed Japan with its atomic breath, I'm sure that this is no coincidence. Thankfully, there are a couple of treaties in the works to make nuclear testing illegal, but unfortunately they aren’t in effect yet. Believe it or not countries don’t want to sign these treaties! I guess that would make them look all weak or vulnerable? This of course means that any country with ‘weapons of mass distruction’ is still capable and willing to blow us the hell away as we comfortably eat our dinners in our living rooms, watching Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985). Heaven help us, and don’t forget to “duck and cover”; which will do absolutely nothing to save you, have a nice day.

Rating: 5 out of 5 

'Castle Bravo', the biggest Nuclear Test ever conducted by the U.S.!


eddie lydecker said...

Francisco, i think its important for you to remember and realise that 300 millon Americans (and hundreds of millions of others around the free world) literally owe EVERYTHING they have directly to Paul Tibbets and Charles Sweeney and those 2 giant mushrooms on Japan 67 years ago (and to Adolf and Eva snuffing it in that bunker in Berlin just over 3 months earlier as well, obviously). When people now take the luxury position of trashing what happened in August of 1945 it does seem as though they are delighting in "biting the hand that feeds them" (as it were). Like i said Francisco, we ALL owe owe freedom directly to Tibbets and Sweeney, i think we should all just be thankful for that, rather than being hypocrites and bleeding-heart-liberals ! ! !.

SFF said...

My friend. Let me begin by saying I enjoyed your impassioned review. Let me also add that I don't discount your own personal feelings or experiences which have a reality to them for which I cannot fully comprehend I'm sure.

I know you are a free thinker and I think it is safe to say this is a great forum for conversation when disagreements arise. I would suggest that, like your feelings, I could never fully grasp the relief by Americans who lost many loved ones following world war II. It was indeed the great war and war is hell and America did much to aid many a nation. They suffered greatly and the events surrounding the end to that war were complex. I have read interviews with some Japanese whereby they understood the reason for Harry Truman s decisions. They were not easy ones to make.

But again this a complex issue and this documentary would surely be interesting. As you know too, documentaries can be colored and shaded to present an agenda more than a fully balanced picture of actual events or understanding the entire picture.

Again, I can certainly see the pain for many people's during this period and being Tyne nation that fathered the atom bomb and used it is sobering but I still believe the country to be a great place where people generally look to come to better their lives when so many places offer little hope. I like to have faith in our intentions.

I also can't pretend to know what went on in the minds of families and Americans following surrender in world war II. I do understand your thinking here Fran but I would temper it with some reflection. People are still taking to the streets today and doing some pretty horrific things. I'd like to think most Americans were not celebrating the death of innocents but the end to the loss of american lives.

This is a good post Franco my friend even if I beg to differ respectfully submitting you have your own feelings on the matter.

Franco Macabro said...

@Eddie Lydecker: I'm criticizing the use of the atomic bomb which to me is one of the most horrifying inventions ever created. This does not mean I hate Americans, I can deferentiate the American people from the actions that their governments take. But I am totally against war and all the death and distruction it brings. More than a liberal, I am a pacifist. I don't bite anybodies hand, I just slap it when it does something that I consider wrong.

@The Sci-Fi Fanatic: Yeah, this kind of thing hits close to home because a similar situation happened in Vieques, which is a small island next to Puerto Rico, where I live. The bomb testing that went on there was harmful to the people who lived on the island, people died and got sick because of it. Thankfully it's all over now and only a few scattered bomb shells and empty military compounds remain...but the damage went on for years and years without any regard for human life. Same thing that happened with the testing of the atomic bombs in the ocean near Bikini and Japan.

Of course, I hope it's clear that this does not mean that I am defending the Japanese and their actions, of course I know they also did their part in angering the U.S. and making them do what they did. I just wish humanity could find another way to resolve their problems without the use of nuclear weapons, so many people who have nothing to do with the war die...its sickening! Ever seen any footage of those that died during Hiroshima? I recommend watching a film called Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959), where it is greatly explored.

I know documentaries can bend things to make you see things their way, but this documentary has no narration, it simply shows you the military films that the U.S. government made themselves...and the news reel footage, you'll see how americans felt after the surrender. The film shows archive films, news reels and pictures that more than speak for themselves.

Highly recommend you check out The Atomic Cafe, it truly is an interesting piece filmmaking. It reminded me in many ways of "Reefer Madness" where they made people think that weed would turn you into a crazy psycho killer/rapist.

Hey man, I love the USA, in fact, Puerto Rico (where I live) IS territory of the United States; and I agree with you, the US is a place where any one can go and try and live a better life (in fact I'm actually going to relocate to NY soon!) and I want to be clear that I'm not thrashing the American people in general (many of my readers and friends are Americans and I certainly dont hate them!) I am only criticizing the way their government acts sometimes, with disregard to human life. Testing their weapons without taking the proper precautions as to not harm others is something I cannot applaud, know what I mean?

I'm just glad no country has ever found it necessery to use atomic weapons ever again, I hope it will remain this way, though sadly many countries still have nuclear weapons ready to go at the press of the button.

Glad you enjoyed the review and thanks for your respectful reply!

SFF said...

My pleasure. I enjoy reading your thoughts and clearly you come at this from a very unique perspective.

Let me close with this, I don't for a minute think you have any of the feelings you reflect upon in your sixth paragraph.

I would never think that, but I'm sure you know this about me.

In fact, I respect the fact your honest. It's not easy to be. In fact, it's not easy to offer counterpoints sometimes either. It's good for the discourse my friend.

eddie lydecker said...

Francisco, if what Tibbets and Sweeney did in 1945 gave us ALL our freedom how can it be wrong ?, it doesn`t matter how a war is won as long as it is "WON" by any and all means neccessary so that people like us could reap the benefits and luxurys 67 years later, like being a pacifist for instance ! ! !.

Franco Macabro said...

@SFF: Thanks man!

@Eddie Lydecker: Winning at any cost, even if that cost is killing more than 180,000 innocent lives (between nagasaki and Hiroshima) is something I've never been able to agree with, but hey, I guess we'll agree to disagree on that one.


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