Sunday, August 15, 2010

Movie with Abe: Countdown to Zero

Countdown to Zero
Directed by Lucy Walker
Released July 23, 2010

If you’re looking for an uplifting film that might give you a few good laughs, go see something like “Dinner for Schmucks.” This documentary from the director of 2006’s “Blindsight” is a brutally real and extremely frightening case for the dismantling of all nuclear programs around the world. Its title may be misleading to some: this is not a historic chronicle of how the number of countries with the capability to assemble and launch nuclear bombs has been diminished to zero. Instead, it’s a disturbing history of how a large number of countries have gained such capabilities, and the dangers that lie ahead if the programs are not ceased and dismantled.

As a research project, “Countdown to Zero” is very extensive and certainly a compelling argument against anyone who argues for the validity of nuclear programs. There is an even mix of historical documentation, geographical focus, and vivid imagery to scare the pants off of any person who might ever find themselves within the five-mile range of a major city. The choice of Times Square in New York City as the sample city for destruction is especially terrifying when screening the film at the AMC Empire 25, located in the heart of Times Square and definitely in range of that hypothetical nuclear bomb dropped on New York City.

This can’t necessarily be classified as an exposé since it spotlights events that most of the world is aware are occurring. People are polled at random on the streets of many major cities to make their best guess at how many nuclear missiles there are in the world, and many are way off but most simply have no idea. It’s the kind of horror movie that doesn’t need a script – this is actually real, and there are devastating implications for any country detonating any number of nuclear arms. The recounting of several near-misses where launch sequences were accidentally mimicked shows just how close the world as we know it today came to never existing. It’s only out of sheer luck and chance that a disaster has not yet occurred. As has come to be expected at the end of documentaries that strive for social change, a notification pops up at the close of the film that suggests what concerned individuals can do to help. In this case, however, it doesn’t seem that one person can likely make a difference, and if a nuclear bomb does go off, the effects will be felt by much more than one person. This is a depressing documentary that serves a greater purpose of global education, but for the average moviegoer may be little more than a recipe for a recurring nightmare.


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