Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Review of Trinity and Beyond: The Atomic Bomb Movie


If you ever want to learn about the Cold War, I recommend the documentary Trinity and Beyond: The Atomic Bomb Movie. I ran across this title in the instant view catalog at Netflix. It came out in 1995 and I vaguely recalled that it was really cool. My memory was certainly valid this time. In less than two hours Trinity and Beyond drives home the jaw dropping and soul shuddering madness of nuclear weaponry and the insanity that reigned supreme among Cold War leaders.

Derived from declassified films of nuclear weapons detonations and narrated by William Shatner, the documentary takes you year by year from the end of World War II to the first successful atomic test by the Chinese. The movie mesmerizes with the astounding beauty of multiple megaton mushroom clouds and the transformation of Pacific atolls into deep dark blue craters. Watching explosion after explosion, I was gripped by the loving marriage of terror and beauty in the colossal releases of atomic power. More disturbing than the lunacy of blasting radioactive particles throughout the atmosphere hundreds of times were the comforting propaganda films where clean cut men reassure a nation that it will never succumb to the Soviet Union. In one film the narrator explains that those who may die of cancer from the radioactive fallout from testing are the fallen unknown soldiers in a war not yet fought. Scary!

I'm a child of the Cold War. I grew up worrying about nuclear war, but the truth is that the nuclear war actually happened in the 1950s and 60s as the United States and the Soviet Union detonated hundreds of powerful weapons in a grotesque display of gorilla chest pounding on a global scale.

From the pictures of piled up skeletons in Japan to the buildings and vehicles disintegrating in the blasts in the Nevada desert, this documentary shows that no fiction writer's imagination surpasses the tragedies that occur in real life. If you are like me and dare to seek horrible information, then Trinity and Beyond is an absolute documentary classic. The films are riveting. The music selections are epic, and as I mentioned William Shatner narrates.

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