Vicki Lesley’s sprightly, inconclusive documentary tackles a perennially controversial subject: nuclear power and its contested ethical status. Like almost all documentaries these days, this begins with a clip of some sonorous 1950s propaganda film – shorthand for the hilariously naive, reactionary stance that we’ve supposedly overcome. It is an amusing gimmick, but in danger of being overused here. Nuclear power was idealistically embraced after the war as part of our white-hot technological future (a notable partisan was once Labour politician Tony Benn) but then rejected with the news of terrifying accidents, notably the partial meltdown at Three Mile Island in the United States in 1979. (Lesley perhaps should have mentioned the very real importance of James Bridges’ movie The China Syndrome, a nuclear-disaster drama that came out just before Three Mile Island; praised as prophetic and genuinely instrumental in popularising anti-nuclear attitudes.)
Guardian 14th May 2020 read more »
The Arts Desk 14th May 2020 read more »
Paul Brown: At last: a fair deal for our atomic love affair: However you view the argument, nuclear passions run strong. This film gives you a breathless ride through our atomic love affair. It’s probably hard to imagine a dispassionate account of the West’s atomic love affair, the way so many of us have been beguiled by the notion of both civil and military nuclear power. And, although it’s taken more than a decade to come to the big screen, the wait has been worthwhile. Anyone interested in nuclear power, politics, or simply how to make a documentary, should watch The Atom: A Love Affair. It’s hard to beat the New Scientist’s summary of the film (6 November, 2019): “It takes no sides and pulls no punches in its witty and admirably objective archival account of the West’s relationship with nuclear power.” Vicki Lesley, of Tenner Films, UK, who directed the film, has amassed a remarkable library of clips of scientists, politicians, campaigners, old newsreels and up-to-date interviews, to chart the evolution of nuclear power from the first atom bombs to the present, the start of the so-called nuclear renaissance. To someone who has used for teaching purposes other excellent but much shorter films directed and produced by Lesley, it seemed likely that this feature-length documentary, running for 90 minutes, might be anti-nuclear. But it is much cleverer than that.
Climate News Network 15th May 2020 read more »