Last Night

Last Night

By Erica C. Barnett June 3, 2010

Last night, I attended a SIFF screening at Pacific Place of Countdown to Zero, a devastating film about the possibility of that Reagan-era concern, nuclear annihilation. The film's basic argument: Today's concerns about climate change and other environmental calamities aren't going to matter much if we blow ourselves up first.

The movie makes a convincing argument that the potential for a nuclear disaster—by accident, miscalculation, or "madness," i.e. terrorism—is still a real, present danger. Weapons-grade enriched uranium is readily available to those with the money to buy it, and nuclear materials in places like Russia are stored in locations that are secured by no more than a padlock. Meanwhile, 23,000 nuclear weapons still exist around the world.

If anything, the film's main flaw is that its answer to the possibility of nuclear calamity---destroy all the remaining nuclear weapons that exist, and don't build more—seems far outside the realm of possibility. Still, it's a chilling (and effective) reminder that the nuclear sword of Damocles--an image to which the movie returns again and again—still hangs over all our heads.

Countdown to Zero shows at SIFF Cinema, 321 Mercer St., tomorrow night at 9:00 pm. Full schedule available here.
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