Last weekend I was cruising through my local video store and my eye caught the cover of a movie whose trailer I had seen several months ago. I remember the trailer had rattled a major nerve inside of me when I first watched it, but it was a bit vague in my memory, so I rented it. From my recollection, it’s the only film I have ever watched in my entire life that I wish I had not seen. Not because it was poor, but because it was achingly terrifying. And I’m not talking about the kind of “post-movie” fear that passes through your head mere minutes afterwards. No, this is the kind of fear that is so intense it almost alters your DNA. Permanently. After I finished watching it I remember laying in bed staring at the ceiling, practically vibrating in sheer horror. As it turned out, the trailer was a mere pin prick compared to the full power of the film itself.
The film in question is “Countdown To Zero”, a documentary made by the same producers as “An Inconvenient Truth”. And the effect that “Truth” had on the environmental movement, will almost certainly be matched by the effect that “Countdown” will have on nuclear weapons awareness worldwide. The film is elegantly structured on a John F. Kennedy UN speech which opens the film:
“Every man woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment, by accident, miscalculation, or by madness.” ………………………..- – – President John. F. Kennedy Jr.
When the film opened in July, 2010, Variety concluded that the film makes “a convincing argument that the human race is on borrowed time: Given the number of nuclear weapons in existence, the ease with which they can be made, the eagerness of terrorists to possess them and a worldwide cluelessness about nuclear security, it’s only a matter of time before something terribly ugly happens. A politically urgent picture, it will also literally scare the breath out of what will certainly be a worldwide audience.” Reuters News Service called the film “Unbearably chilling.”
So how do we eliminate the threat of a nuclear explosion? According to the filmmakers, and their interview subjects, it’s simple: ban nuclear weapons the same way we banned land mines and poison gas. It’s a compelling argument and, from this perspective, impossible to refute. Perhaps the most terrifying fact, however, comes from the world’s leading watchdogs in charge of supervising nuclear non-proliferation (whose work I discovered after having watched the film). Even with their collective dedication and devotion to making sure we never have to experience a disaster of this proportion, they have still concluded:
“There is a 50% chance we will witness a nuclear detonation in an American city within the next ten years.”
Here’s the trailer for “Countdown To Zero”. And like I said before, the trailer is nothing compared to the film itself:
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