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Radio Bikini (1988)

Kilon Bauno , John Smitherman , Robert Stone  |  NR |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Radio Bikini + The Atomic Cafe
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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, 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: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000TPAMO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #208,384 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Radio Bikini" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Filmmaker interview
  • Filmmaker statement

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?

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Speechless January 14, 2004
By emma
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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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Radio(active) Bikini July 18, 2004
"I'm making a film. If you want to learn history, read a book." - - Robert Stone
Robert Stone's Academy Award-nominated documentary, Radio Bikini, teaches history by presenting the story of the 1946 atomic bomb tests in the Marshall Islands using US government film. With hundreds of cameras recording the blasts in the Bikini Atoll, Operation Crossroads must have been the most extensively recorded event in history up to that time.
The story of smiling sailors before the test (putting animals in cages to test anti-radiation substances, drinking 3-2 beer, playing volleyball) alternates with the reminiscences of a sailor who suffered horrendous effects after returning to the area of the blast.
The chief of the island describes the day the Navy came and told him the United States needed to move his people and destroy their home. He'd never even seen a motion picture camera before that day.
Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov spars with US representative Bernard Baruch at the United Nations about which country has more peaceful intentions for the atom. Protesters march against the Bikini tests.
Stone's comment on film vs. history quoted above is misleading. He doesn't take the Jerry Bruckheimer approach to filmmaking (Blackhawk Down, Pearl Harbor) that dismisses historical accuracy in favor of an exciting story. He's just aware of the shortcomings of film to explain an historical event. (The interview with Stone included on the DVD is very interesting.)
Radio Bikini proves that film can show the truth, even if it can't show the whole truth. The physical effects of the Bikini tests we see are real.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Arrogance and Ignorance of Power June 20, 2009
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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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DH January 5, 2004
By A Customer
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A horrifying film; much, much better than "Atomic Cafe" January 22, 2008
Radio Bikini captures the earth-shattering tragedy of the Bikini tests, in ways you are probably not prepared for. Unlike other books and documentaries on the subject, it does not attempt to be too clever -- but lets the story unfold in a way that really can leave no one with any doubt as to the terrible new world America found itself in, and helped create after the cessation of WWII. I understand why we embarked on this path, but the inability of Americans then and now to deal with the human side of warfare is extremely disturbing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't worry, RadSafe® will protect you June 27, 2007
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Thank you.
Published 2 months ago by Erik Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars Great historical perspective delivered from a point of view of ...
Great historical perspective delivered from a point of view of what mankind knew with regards to hazards in making the atomic bomb.
Published 6 months ago by Edward A. Rodriguez
4.0 out of 5 stars Cheaper to go to BIKINI
I went to the official BIKINI Island website and got this movie plus TWO MORE documentaries for about $35.00... Read more
Published on April 23, 2008 by IKNOWBEST
5.0 out of 5 stars SO WE WILL REMEMBER
This is a short, documentary about the bomb being dropped on Bikini Island and the aftermath.
A must see.
Published on November 30, 2007 by L.Turley
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent teaching tool
I teach high school science, and have been showing this documentary for 9 years now. Students love watching, and there are many great "teaching moments". Read more
Published on November 30, 2007 by The Chem Guy
3.0 out of 5 stars Some good footage - but nothing extraordinary
What caught my attention mostly was American pursuit to test more advanced weaponry at a time and place where the local population had little choice but to move away to create a... Read more
Published on May 24, 2007 by P. GUPTA
3.0 out of 5 stars Certainly Not Worth $350 Dollars!!!
With my obsession of all that is nuclear, I knew I had to see this rare film. However, after seeing the price of this movie, I knew I had to attain it by more devious means. Read more
Published on May 10, 2007 by Rain
5.0 out of 5 stars the truth
an entirely new (and truthful) perspective on our government...
Published on January 15, 2006 by Greg Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars Radio Bikini
Director Stone vividly recounts a tragic chapter in our history too often overlooked, mingling color footage of the Bikini project with newsreel interviews. Read more
Published on August 23, 2005 by John Farr
3.0 out of 5 stars From the dawn of the nuclear age
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. Read more
Published on June 30, 2005 by Dennis Littrell
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