Atomic Bombs on The Planet Earth

UK/The Netherlands | 2011 | 13 min | Art & Experimental documentary
Director: Peter Greenaway, Video Design Irma de Vries
Producer: Change Performing Arts | Language: Multilingual

Synopsis: Very surprisingly from 1945 to 1989 there have been 2201 atomic bombs dropped on the planet Earth - an astonishing number of atomic bombs implying huge destruction and fall-out. The film shows evidence of every bomb explosion documented with the nation responsible, the date and location, the force and the height about earth or sea level in a relentless build up of accumulating destruction that is both inspiring and dreadful in the true biblical sense of the phrase - full of dread.

Awards: International Uranium Film Festival Hors Concours Award, Rio de Janeiro 2012

Special Achievement Award

for reminding us of something we have tended to forget, or maybe even not to know: that 2,201 atomic bombs have been exploded on, within, or over our own home planet -- which, from Earth's point of view, are not atomic tests at all but preemptive nuclear strikes. Greenway creates an infernal cinematic aesthetic to convey this truth. Using 25 screens at once, Atomic Bombs on Planet Earth overwhelms the viewer's field of vision with dazzling cascades of poison fire punctuated by percussive sounds and eerie sonics to convey the reckless enormity of the many Bombs humans exploded not all that long ago. The grid of screens gives rise to multiples of every blast a dozen times or more and staggers clips to make them tumble downscreen, slantwise, in coruscating tides. By the time the razzle-dazzle's over, Greenway has delivered more fireballs than any viewer will be able to absorb -- and more than any living planet may be able to sustain. The first Trinity blast appears several times as Robert Oppenheimer provides the film's voice-over with words repeated like a mantra:

Some laughed/ Some cried/ Most remained silent.

These are hardly words of wisdom from the father of the Bomb... and half a century on, in the absence of anything like sage words on nuclear weapons, we get what's coming to us: an experimental documentary impossible to forget that triggers in our collective brain an atomic migraine of criminally insane proportions whose energies go deeper and are destined to last longer than our own DNA.

Robert del Tredici