Countdown to Zero

Countdown To Zero* * *
Countdown to Zero
– sp – When I was a youngster I was keenly aware of the eminent threat of nuclear disaster that could wipe us out at any moment. We had drills in school where we would duck under our desks and run away from the window, as if that could protect us from a nuclear blast. But once the cold war ended, the idea that an Atomic or Hydrogen Bomb could destroy our cities or end our lives was not a concern. Even when the news reported that Iran was trying to become a nuclear power, my anxiety was not raised and I never thought that my life, the safety of my family or our country’s well being was in jeopardy. That is until I saw this documentary film written and directed by Lucy Walker and produced and edited by a crackerjack experienced team. They skillfully build the film around the words of John F. Kennedy who proclaimed in a speech in 1961, “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 or miscalculation or by madness.” The filmmakers then show us dramatic movie clips of such events as near nuclear accidents where five of six safety devices failed, lost atomic weapons, both American and Russian governments misinterpreting data and being seconds away from launching a retaliatory nuclear strike against an imagined attack on their country. There are interviews with former CIA agent Valerie Plume, Mikhail Gorbachev, Jimmie Carter, Tony Blair, and Robert MacNamara in the last interview before he died, which all discuss the serious dangers that nuclear weapons pose today. The film shows how easy it is to make a nuclear bomb, how destructive it can be and how terrorists are very hot to make one and use it. The film pulls no punches and certainly can scare the living daylights out of you. The goal of this documentary and the various sponsors of the film are encompassed in the title, “Countdown to Zero” with the subtitle ” Demand Zero”. It is worth noting that JFK followed up the quote mentioned above with the statement, “The weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us.” The filmmakers believe that if the people all over the world demand nuclear disarmament, it will happen. This documentary certainly makes their point and one of their principle producers, Participant Media makes suggestions on their web site: as to how to get this conversation started. This film will also eventually be shown on the History Channel, which is one of the backers of it, and I also hope it will end up in many schools to pass on this message to new generations who will have to finish the job of nuclear disarmament. (2010)

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