Posts Tagged ‘Nuclear War’


May 21, 2009

Today, The Alder Fork presents another piece of the mighty National Film Board of Canada collection.  Julian Bigg’s 23 Skidoo is an eeire look at the possible devestation of a neutron bomb.   If you are familiar with Montreal’s downtown than this film will be even creepier to you.

The basic premise of the film, that a neutron bomb has killed everyone in the city, while leaving everything intact, represents two realities. The first is the Cold War fear that the entire world would be destroyed by nuclear weapons.  That concern is less present today, as people seem to be more afraid of viruses and terrorism than nuclear war.  In fact, for younger generations, the cold war worldview is more of a historical curiousity than a reality.  The destruction of society in this film is caused by an accident, as a by product of a test gone wrong.  That plot twist is intriguing because it departs from the standard mutually assured destruction model.  By the 1960’s people were beginning to oppose the testing of nuclear weapons because of the potential dangers.

The second reality in this film is the understanding that a neutron bomb would only kill people.  Since the technology was brand new in 1964, it’s understandable that the filmmaker wouldn’t know the way these weapons were later utilized.  Indeed, a neutron bomb still yields in the kiloton range and would cause sizable material damage.

The phrase “23 Skidoo” was popular in 1920’s America as a way of implying that someone was going to “get while the getting is good.”  What a witty choice for a film about the death of everyone.

This film won awards from the UN and BAFTA.  It’s striking message, creepy soundtrack, and stiring visuals bring the extinction of humanity into focus.  It is still shocking today, and were it not for the teletype machines and old tv monitors it could be from 2009.  23 Skidoo asks, where are we going and how soon will we get there?

Duck and Cover

March 9, 2009

Vodpod videos no longer available. more about “If You Love This Planet by Terre Nash…“, posted with vodpod

This 1982 video is a stark reminder of the reality of nuclear annihilation that reached its zenith during the Cold War.  Dr. Helen Caldicott was exetremly passionate about nuclear proliferation.  Although it is a long film (25 minutes) it is worth a watch, especially for those who don’t know much about life before 1991.

I think it could be argued that the potential for an all out nuclear war has greatly diminished in the last 20 or so years.  It is certainly possible that India and Pakistan, or perhaps the U.S. and a future Russia could engage in some limited attacks using hydrogen bombs, but it is not likely.  Since the end of the Cold War, and particularly in the last few years, nations have generally backed off their efforts to create massive weapons which are capable of killing millions or billions of people.  This is partly due to the new relationships between larger world powers, such as the occasionally tenuous relationship between the U.S. and Putin’s Russia.  But the emergence of terrorism as the main opponent in global conflicts has also been a major factor.  Nuclear weapons are essentially useless in fighting an enemy who works in small numbers and without held territory.

The National Film Board of Canada featured this video on its main page in part to highlight International Women’s Day and the role of women in changing the world. Certainly Dr. Caldicott’s battle against nuclear proliferation is a shining example.  I have chosen to embed this video because it is a reminder of what life was like just 20 years ago, when many humans feared for the future of the species.  Now we are more afraid of killer viruses, asteroid collisions and limited terrorist attacks than ICBM’s with megaton payloads.  I’m not sure which alternative is better, but I do know I hate the vision of the future painted by Dr. Caldicott.