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Radio Bikini

4.3 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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(Dec 30, 2003)
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Editorial Reviews

Nominated for an Academy Award(r) as well as the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, Radio Bikini is a sensational, eye-opening film that gets to the bottom of one of the most terrifying tragedies of the nuclear age. Hailed by The Los Angeles Times as "an outstanding achievement on all levels," this classic documentary serves as a chilling reminder of what happens when man's quest for power surpasses his ability to control its devastating effects. In the tradition of THE ATOMIC CAFE, RADIO BIKINI transports us back to The Cold War, a terrifying time when the threat of nuclear war was part of daily life. Told in a hauntingly perceptive tone, this critically-acclaimed film is one of the most powerful and insightful films ever made on the overwhelming destructiveness of nuclear power. By using extraordinary and rarely seen archival footage, much of which was once kept classified by the U.S. government, director Robert Stone brings to light the largely untold story of Bikini Atoll. A peaceful and tropical island located in the Pacific, it was the unwitting sight of a series of high-profile atomic bomb tests conducted by the US in 1946. With startling eyewitness accounts by a naval serviceman and the chief of the native Bikinians, the film reveals the stark reality of these tests-thought to be harmless, they instead left Bikini Island uninhabitable for over 40 years and exposed thousands of sailors to heavy doses of radiation. The film's virtually surreal footage of sailors fishing in contaminated waters, mushroom clouds filling the skies, and top level government officials professing the safety of the tests leaves us in utter shock and disbelief-how could something so horrific gone untold for so long?

Special Features

  • Filmmaker interview
  • Filmmaker statement

Product Details

  • Actors: Kilon Bauno, John Smitherman, Warren Austin, Bernard Baruch, W.H.P. Blandy
  • Directors: Robert Stone
  • Producers: Robert Stone, Jonathan Weisgall, Kevin Rafferty, Laurie Kahn, Shelby Stone
  • Format: Black & White, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: New Video Group
  • DVD Release Date: December 30, 2003
  • Run Time: 56 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000TPAMO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #150,895 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Radio Bikini" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By emma on January 14, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
My Dad was on the USS Reclaimer - lucky to still be alive. Not many people realize what a controversial, scary event this was when it happened. People honestly thought the world was going to be destroyed and yet, hundreds of teenagers were exposed to massive amounts of radiation. As the video ends, you will be sitting there with your mouth hanging open. A must see.
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By A Customer on January 5, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Best documentary I have ever seen. The ending leaves you speechless and in deep thought. Everyone should see this movie at least once. Should be required of all high school/college students.
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Format: DVD
This documentary film by Robert Stone is rife with the naive arrogance of US governmental officials as they explored the use of the atomic bomb for future nuclear war after WWII. In 1946 the US government involuntarily relocated the inhabitants of the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands to another Polynesian island. The government then conducted two atomic tests, dropping one atomic bomb on the atoll and exploding another in the ocean.

The film of a baby goat (what a metaphor!) that survived one of the explosions arouses pity and will make you wish it had died. It was harnessed on one of the target ghost ships. An interview with the Bikini islander's "king", Kilon Bauno, shows the advantage taken of the displaced islanders. The interview with ex-seaman, John Smitherman, shows the appalling human cost of the ignorance which exposed thousands of US sailors to large amounts of radioactive fallout. There is even a snippet of Alfred Einstein being co-opted into saying only "I agree" to a self-serving statement read by a government spokesman.

Smith ingeniously used the government's own footage, originally compiled for the production of a propaganda film extolling the virtues of the tests, to make a pungent criticism of the damage caused by the ignorance, naivete, and arrogance of the US government. The government dropped all plans to make its film after it realized the magnitude of the destruction it caused to the vegetation and human and animal life, and made the island uninhabitable for years. The footage was discreetly archived until Smith did his research.

The decision to exclude narration from the film was a brilliant approach by Smith.
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Excellently done, small wonder it's so sought after. Contains footage I've never seen elsewhere of sailors drenched head to toe in fallout from the second Crossroads shot, after the spray plume drifts into their ship. Hours later, when radiation monitors finally show up, they are pegging Geiger counters with their clothing and fingernails. Ghastly descriptions and photos of the wierd medical issues suffered by these veterens.
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Format: DVD
I went to the official BIKINI Island website and got this movie plus TWO MORE documentaries for about $35.00...they also send you a Good Luck charm from the Island People...Proceeds go to the Bikinians!!!!!!!!!
Three Documentaries, a Charm and your money goes to a good cause!!!!!!!!
What more could one ask for?????????????????
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Format: DVD
"The Most Terrifying and Unbelievable Story of the Nuclear Age."

That's what the quote on the cover of the DVD says. Unfortunately, I don't think the DVD quite lives up to these expectations. (Why can't we just have good cover art instead of shameless fluffy quotes?)

In my book, the first bomb drops on Japan (Justified or not) must be the most terrifying. Those awoke the world to the power man has created. If not those, the future explosions and deployment in the MEGATON range must be the most terrifying. (The bombs dropped on Japan and FIRST tested in Bikini atoll were no more than 21 Kilotons).

I found the released footage fascinating in showing our naivete of our attitudes toward nuclear weapons at the time. The zoom out of a former sailor talking earlier than showing his hand is good too, though when put in context of what happened to those in Japan, not surprising. (I have been to Hiroshima (and Los Alamos area and museum) - which might affect my perception of this film too, in other words if one doesn't know much about nuclear history they might rate it higher)

Interviews with Bikini atoll native is good too, but I don't believe the author ever mentions that <200 people (167 from what I've read elsewhere) were moved / affected. Which in the scheme of mass death during WW2, isn't a high number. Although the movie Star Trek: Insurrection comes to mind (Which talks about how many people is too much to "sacrifice" for a goal). A map showing the blasts in relation to the Atoll would have been good too for perspective.

This is where I feel the movie failed a bit, it didn't do enough to express the context of the times.
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Format: DVD
What I found interesting about this documentary is the glimpse it gives us of the state of mind of the United States just after World War II, now sixty years past. We see in the newsreel and other film footage the style and substance of America in the afterglow of our greatest victory. But mostly we see ordinary soldiers and sailors who were stationed on or near the Bikini Atoll in the Marshalls in the South Pacific. We also see some of the islanders whom the United States military displaced so that the capabilities of the atom bomb could be explored.

An old uneducated Bikini islander recalls how his people were told that in the interest of "science" (but actually in the interest of weapons development) they would have to leave their home island and be relocated. Then at some point they were told that they would not be able to return to their island since it was "poisoned."

Film maker Robert Stone shows us the big media build up orchestrated by the US to justify dropping the bomb on Bikini. (Actually one bomb was dropped. Another was exploded under water in the Bikini lagoon.) Dignitaries and scientists from all over the world were invited to watch. Stone shows them arriving and being greeted by the officer in charge as a voice-over gives their names, country of origin and their titles. I found that interesting. Two from India, a couple from the USSR, some Asians, and many more. Ah, yes, the US was going to make the world safe from nuclear power by experimenting with nuclear power.

Or some such argument. I thought the dignitaries were positively drooling.
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