DIRECTORRafferty, Kevin / Loader, Jayne / Rafferty, Pierce
TITLEThe Atomic Café
DISTRIBUTORFirst Run Features
RUNNING TIME88 minutes

This creatively edited film depicts American uncertainty, fear, ignorance, and paranoia in the early Cold War, using the very propaganda that instilled these traits into the American consciousness. It is a montage of U.S. government archival footage and newsreel footage from the forties and fifties. It begins with Col. Paul Tibbets narrating his mission that dropped the atomic bomb over Hiroshima, spliced with the footage of the explosion and ensuing human effects. Tibbets describes being demonized for his role, and states that America is suffering an atomic guilt complex. The clips include footage of U.S. Army training. One shows an officer telling soldiers that radiation is nothing to worry about, and then records the men racing into a still smoldering atomic test area. Other footage reflects the suburban paranoia—families gather in bomb shelters believing themselves safe, while children outside practice “Duck and Cover”. A memorable clip shows an American officer explaining to natives of Bikini Atoll that they must be evacuated for the good of mankind. The sound track contains a wonderful collection of “bomb” songs from diverse genres. The film conveys Cold War xenophobia pervading Americans' views of communists, Russians, and even scientists.

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