The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that brought an end to World War II demonstrated the appalling and destructive power of the atomic bomb. This bold documentary looks not only at death in the atomic age, but also at the living who have benefitted from the medical applications of nuclear technology. Compiled from archive footage from the British Film Institute, NASA and CERN, the kaleidoscopic images get an added impetus by a soundtrack from the Scottish band Mogwai.
Atomic shows us an impressionistic mixture of our nuclear times—protest marches, Cold War clanging of arms, government films giving us handy tips on what to do in the event of a nuclear attack, old scientific films, and stories from the people of Chernobyl and Fukushima. Filmmaker Mark Cousins doesn’t shy away from showing the most horrific images, but there’s also the sublime beauty of the atomic world, both at the tiny end of the scale and the vast, such as in the sun. He shows how X-rays and MRI scans have saved and improved human lives. The nuclear age is a nightmare, but it has also made dreams come true.