The Atomic Cafe (Collector's Edition)
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It starts with the Manhattan Project and the effects of the Bomb on Japan, and segues right into the Rosenberg's trial and the insanity of McCarthyism. Next, you have the famous "duck and cover" films along with lesser-known civil defense stuff, including fallout shelter plans and so forth. There is little narration, and what you hear, comes from the Rosenberg's testimony, army technicians explaining how radiation can be avoided (yeah, right) and the viewer's own common sense, saying, "man, we really believed this hogwash once, and it helped us sleep better at night."
This new DVD presentation gives us the film in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, with a two-channel stereo soundtrack. The print is decent, but as none of these old films were restored before compilation, there is grain and color loss throughout, but it's a problem with the source material, not the DVD itself (this is how Atomic Café was supposed to look). The sound is the biggest disappointment: Kuran was kind enough to give his Atomic films a dynamic 5.1 DD soundtrack, and Atomic Café sounds more like a radio broadcast than a DVD. Plus, there are zero extras to speak of. Normally, extras do not make a DVD (how many times are you going to watch them, anyway?Read more ›
In this case, the idea of looking back provides some comic relief, but I for one, can tell you, that when the sirens were going off every other day back in 1962-63, we didn't regard it as all that funny. Read the Amazon reviewer's take above, then invest some money in purchasing this film. It is a great document that depicts a serious subject in a lighthearted manner, yet the underlying message is timeless. It should come shipped with the caveat: "Lest we forget."
The Atomic Cafe does a masterful job of weaving together news reports, government information films, public service announcements and dramas from World War II right up through the Cold War of 1982. It's interesting to watch the sometimes frightening, sometimes naive and sometimes even humorous moments that illustrate the American culture adapting to a world in which it had the ultimate destructive power (the atomic bomb), then lost the edge over the menacing Soviet Union, then developed an even more powerful weapon (the hydrogren bomb) and then saw the Soviets catch up yet again.
Some of the moments in the documentary are just classic, thanks to great footage but even more, awesome editing. For instance, one part shows a man looking at a newspaper and he says "well, at least we don't have to worry. We're the ones with the bomb!" Then there is a cut to someone stating that the Soviets now have the bomb.
Then there is the naivety: Another part shows an Army officer briefing a company of soldiers who will be deployed into a nuclear area shortly after a test detonation. He tells them that there is this "new" threat called "radiation", but that they won't have to worry about it too much. They then show these soldiers in their trenches immediately after the detonation and they stand up to see, while radioactive dirt and debris whooshes over them. A news reporter asks one of the soldiers: "Did you close your mouth?" The soldier answers, laughing: "No, I got a mouthful!"
If anything, the Atomic Cafe is a stark reminder of where we've been. It'll definitely be something interesting for my children to watch someday.
This docu-drama begins with the Trinity atomic test blast in New Mexico in 1945, then proceeds through the annihilation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the subsequent atomic test at Bikini atoll. With the acquisition of the A-bomb by the Soviets in 1949 - my birth year - and the Korean War, the film gets into the meat of the piece, which is a visual commentary on the paranoia about the Red Menace and Nuclear Armageddon which gripped the United States during Eisenhower's two terms as President.
THE ATOMIC CAFE is alternately funny, sobering, and shocking. Funny, as when Kruschev and Nixon verbally joust in a comedic Tricky Dick and Nicky routine during the former's visit to the States. And the training films depicting citizens, singly and in large groups, on the streets and in schools, doing the "duck and cover" drill in response to the hypothetical Big One. Sobering, as when a priest discusses the merits of excluding non-family members from your personal bomb shelter. (In a departure from Christian charity, he was all for it.) Or the message given to Army troops assigned to the near vicinity of test explosions, which was that in a real atomic war it would be the blast that kills them, not the radiation. And shocking, as when we see the disfiguring burns and blisters affecting the residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as the pigs exposed to subsequent test detonations in the desert Southwest.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great movie that uses old video and images to explain the dawn of the nuclear age. I use it in the classroom.Published 24 days ago by Amazon Customer
Everyone should see this movie. Truly. This was what people did best in the earned angst of the Cold War era.Published 3 months ago by Rob Woodford
Excllent cult classic/documentary. You had to be brought up in the 50's and 60's to appreciate. Would recommend.Published 4 months ago by LauraD
One of the best, if not the best, documentary of the Atomic Age. All film and no narration, The Atomic Café shows how America's attitude toward atomic, and then nuclear,... Read morePublished 4 months ago by asimov
Gives you a good feel for how the 80s looked back on the 50s and 60s.
Nominally an ant-nuclear documentary, but a really good watch, and was useful for teaching my kids... Read more
One of the best documentaries ever made, and especially groundbreaking in its lack of contemporary interviews or "voice of God" narration.Published 7 months ago by Jason Bentley
This review is an excerpt from my book "Killer B's: The 237 Best Movies On Video You've (Probably) Never Seen," which is available as an ebook on Amazon. Read morePublished 12 months ago by D. Scott Apel
The initial scene of the bomb being lifted by crane up to the detonation point is creepy!!
I recommend this DVD.
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