Atomic Cafe

Hi and welcome to our blog, specifically dedicated to the 1982 American documentary "The Atomic Cafe". Feel free to look through our blog in any way you like; but be sure not to leave out the atomic jukebox at the right sidebar...

Monday, November 22, 2010

People as still affected by the Nuclear Test Fallout!

The issue of the Nuclear Test is still affecting many people years after the tests in different parts of the world was carried out. I just followed BBC Outlook program on people still affected by nuclear fallout in the town of Kazakhstan years after the A-Bomb Test. If you wish to listen to the details on the subject, please access BBC OUTLOOK

With these drawbacks, there are people or some countries that would like stop at nothing but desirous of obtaining a nuclear bomb. Here is a recent BBC report that says, “The US has said a report that North Korea has built a new nuclear facility is further evidence of Pyongyang's "belligerent behaviour".
The top US military officer, Adm Mike Mullen, said North Korea was "continuing on a path which is destabilising for the region".
A US scientist said he been shown "more than 1,000 centrifuges" for enriching uranium on a visit to North Korea.
Enriched uranium can be used for nuclear fuel or made into weapons.
"From my perspective, it's North Korea continuing on a path which is destabilising for the region," Adm Mullen, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told CNN.
"It confirms or validates the concern we've had for years about their enriching uranium, which they've denied routinely," he said.
In September last year, after having denied enriching uranium, North Korea said it was in the final stage of uranium enrichment, and further warned that it was continuing to reprocess and weaponise plutonium.
Adm Mullen said the latest report of the North's nuclear activity should be seen in the light of the March sinking of a South Korean warship, which Seoul and Washington blamed on Pyongyang.
The sinking of the Cheonan in a suspected torpedo attack left 46 South Korean sailors dead and inflamed tensions on the Korean peninsula.
"All of this is consistent with belligerent behaviour, the kind of instability creation in a part of the world that is very dangerous," Adm Mullen said.
His remarks followed the publication of a report by US nuclear scientist Siegfried Hecker on his trip last week to North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear complex, which is about 100km (60 miles) north of the capital Pyongyang.”
If you are interested in details, please access North Korea nuclear plant 'confirms US suspicions'

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Utah Shelter Systems™ - "Because Survival is the Highest Priority"™

I have recently chanced upon a website which I thought was extremely fascinating and very much related to our topic of the atomic scare during the Cold War.

This website, is for a company named Utah Shelter Systems™, which has been installing 'All Hazard Sheltering' for families across the US since 1984. Their comprehensive website provides the curious family with images like these:

Kitchen, bunks, dining and storage spaces

Now, doesn't that look just like home!

Before anyone scrambles to phone them up for an installation job, I should mention that these shelters do not come cheap. An average fallout shelter for a family, which comes "equipped with two sets single and two sets double bunks", should cost you between 40,000USD to 55,000USD. Any additional furniture, such as the kitchen sink and counter (VERY necessary), would cost you at least several thousand dollars more. Of course, if you have to stay in one of these for a good decade or so, wouldn't you want to make it as comfortable as possible?
One thing which I was unable to understand was that a company like this could still be in business today, and that people today would actually feel that they still need services like these. Well the FAQ section of the website provided me with some kind of answers to that doubt, and now I finally understand what all the fuss is about. Below are some excerpts:

Seldom do all members of a family have the same levels of concern, and it is sometimes frustrating to justify these protective measures to those we care about the most.

We have been asked, numerous times, to expound on the following statements that have been genuinely made by others:

1. I would not want to be the only one to survive.
2. I may not be at home when I need the shelter.
3. There are no more “real” threats to our country.
4. The government will take care of us.

The following is our response to these concerns:

1. I would not want to be the only one to survive:

Our Answer:

According to the worst-case scenario forecasts prepared by the Department of Defense in 2002, the short-term casualties that would be derived from a full onslaught nuclear attack (Russia and / or China) would approximate 30% - 35% of our population with and additional 30% - 35% of our population dying over the following 6-8 weeks from starvation, dehydration, disease, inclement weather, contamination, attack, etc. In this forecasted worst case, 30% of our citizens would survive to start over and rebuild our country. At 290,000,000 people and growing, this means that almost 100,000,000 Americans would survive. Yes, we would be starting over and it would be hard at times. We would be living in a 3rd world country for a period of time. But, unlike our pioneer ancestors, we still have the knowledge and information from before, to build upon.

2. I may not be at home when I need my shelter.

Our answer:

Government war strategists are in agreement that a full-scale nuclear attack would most probably occur during the night or early morning or during a national holiday. ‘Night time’ in America is ‘Day time’ in the countries of our most likely enemies. Our enemies would want to strike while we were asleep.

Most people do not work or live in the vicinity of prime targets, providing time for them to return to their shelters in the event of a full-scale nuclear or terrorist attack.

People who have prepared shelters are aware of their surroundings and in tune to escalating crises and the warning signs They have also pre-planned expedient sheltering capabilities and evacuation routes.

3. There are no “real” threats from which we need to be protected. Russia and China are our friends. The cold war is over. The government has the terrorists under control.

Our answer:

We have been preparing and building shelters for over 21 years, but we are continually amazed at the number of people who don’t recognize or believe that any “real” threats exist. Upon further questioning we most often find that the vast majority of these people do not read a daily newspaper nor watch a daily news broadcast. They are consumed with sporting events and spend their money on useless toys.

Many people refuse to consider the possibility of an attack, because they believe nuclear war is not survivable. If there is nothing one can do, one tends to do nothing. They receive all their information from the media, which consistently tells them this is true. If we can educate these people to the real and fundamental effects of nuclear weapons, they may see that nuclear war is, in fact, very survivable and prepare accordingly.

4. The government will take care of us.

Our Answer:

There is a wide spread misconception that public shelters exist throughout the country. Some countries, such as Switzerland, Finland, Sweden, North Korea, China and Russia have provided shelters for a good portion of their population. It has been estimated by American strategists that about 30% of the population of the world have radiation and blast shelters. Russia has constructed multiple underground industrial communities. Switzerland, has provided 100% of their population with hardened NBC shelters.

Our own government has provided hardened underground facilities for high ranking government officials and their families as well as for our critical mission personnel.

My family members are my ‘critical mission personnel’. Where are the shelters for my family? The answer to this question is that we, as citizens, have not been willing to demand this level of protection for ourselves, nor have we been willing to be taxed to this level of protection. Legislation providing shelters will not occur until we demand it. Current localized disasters have proven that our government is there to assist us, but not to save us in widespread emergencies. More and more Americans are awakening to the reality that the world has become a dangerous place, and as a result, they are purchasing shelters for themselves and their loved ones.

(Read more on the FAQ page of Utah Shelter Systems.)


I have to admit, that FAQ page did make me have a sudden urge to want to install a fallout shelter in my backyard.


(The above photos and information were all retrieved from the website of Utah Shelter Systems™.)

About the key words used in movie

Radioactive fallout: Cloud of dust particles produced because of the explosion of atomic bomb and are transformed far from the place of exploision and contaminate the place where they fall. especiall after the second world war many developed countries started creating atomic bombs. while testing the atomic bomb the dust particles were produced from the atomic bomb which is higly contaminated and had caused raditiation sickness and had lead to death of many people.

Atomic bomb shelter: Especiall in the american society, there was a trend or can be said as a part of culture of building rooms in the basement of their apartment where all types of facilities are provided. the main aim of building bomb shelter is to prevent from the radioactive fallout.

Duck and cove: students in school, employes in companies were trained how to be secure after hearing the atomic bomb explosion and how one can prevent themselves because of the explosion and fallouts.

Reflecting on the films we studied

At one point in comparing the works of one of the filmmakers we studied, ‘Kurosawa’s Dreams and Rhapsodies’, Linda C. Ehrlich commented on Kurosawa’ past and later works as “although he has mixed Western and Eastern aesthetics and philosophical systems in the past, with great success, in his later films his skills as an ‘alchemist’ in this regards fails, becoming instead a confusion of modes”, (Linda, 164).

What I did like to suggest about ‘the Atomic Café’ as a post-modern masterpiece is that, unlike Kurosawa in his later films, the co-producers (Jayne Loader, Kevin and Pierce Rafferty) application of their skills as an ‘alchemist’ was a great success. As it is detailed in ATOMIC CAFE: HISTORY DONE RIGHT, Conelrad added that not only did the producers edit the footage for maximum irony, but it was backed by phenomenal soundtrack, which developed fresh and original work. In support of this claim, Jayne in her interview with Conelrad, said that they succeeded because they worked straightly with their principle of ‘compilation verite’. Jayne went on further to admit that they mixed up motion pictures together with the soundtrack about the cold war, because they got to know ‘the Atomic Café’ movie was going to be about “the Atomic Age (instead about propaganda in general).”

Another information which made me suggest that ‘the Atomic Café co-producers had ‘alchemist’ skills is that, Jayne Loader mentioned that in her 2002 interview with Conelrad, she successfully made another compilation verite film about animals and animal rights entitled “Why do we treat them like animals?” From here you can access Conelrad’s 2002 interview with Jayne Loader.

Reflections on Atomic Cafe - Part 3

The other interesting thing i have observed in this documentary is game of politics and how this game is cleverly staged by cunning politicians , the tactics they have been using throughout was first fear mongering to get the attention and then using ideologies such as nationalism or talking about the "will of God" or anti communist chanting. By manipulating emotional component of the general public the government has successfully achieved their objectives of control and nuclear proliferation. This similar tactics were used by Reagon Administration to justify and increase military spending.

There is one scene in this documentary where one man says to another to not worry about enemies because US is the only country to possess atomic bomb and soon there is another scene introducing the headlines showing Soviet Union developing it s A bomb and later on how competition would grow stronger between these two nations to develop more and more weapons.

What i understand from this is that it was not a government as the founding principle would have claimed "for the people, by the people" but it was indeed "for the power and by the power " government. That could be the worst government and it was more like an autocratic style with a "democratic cream". US government regulating or banning the flow of information about the true nature of atomic bombs and misinforming and then showing under Soviet Union rule the newspaper editor being imprisoned is indeed a big satire.

Reflections on Atomic Cafe - Part 2


In my previous blog post, i discussed about the misinformed soldiers highlighting a scene from the documentary. In fact by watching the whole documentary , the generation of that era as a whole had no idea of what atomic bomb s real impact would be and it was solely due to government s regulation of the flow of information on atomic related matters. The general public of that time was provided protection strategies just in case if there was a bomb attack from the enemies and the strategy was very simple.."duck and....cover"drills or buy a bomb shelter house and the song i uploaded on my previous blog shows school children taught to hide under desks like if it was an earthquake. Well atomic bomb is more deadlier than an earthquake and it has power to vaporize and destroy even the toughest element in the planet. . In the final scenes in the documentary enemy drops a bomb and thereby showing how people react to the sound like hiding under beds and do duck and cover on roads , ultimately revealing the destructive nature of atomic bomb . the following is a final scene from the atomic cafe

In my opinion, the filmmakers of this documentary should have added more Japanese footage of the destruction of A-Bomb. There were only fews scenes in the first phases of the documentary about the radiation effects on the people of Hiroshima. But I reckon there should be some hidden wisdom of not adding it. Perhaps putting too many real scenes of Japanese suffering might have become more serious film rather than their original black comedy film. What do you think?

Notable Quotes, Ironical lines

Most impressionable quotes

*Army information film: When not close enough to be killed, the atomic bomb is one of the most beautiful sights in the world.

**Civil defense film: Be sure to include tranquilizers to ease the strain and monotony of life in a fallout shelter. A bottle of 100 should be sufficient for a family of four. Tranquilizers are not a narcotic, and are not habit-forming.

American military captain on what he felt was the most “outstanding moment” of the bomb-dropping operation on Nagasaki: “[I] let the bomb go… that was my greatest thrill.

American military official explaining to the natives the reason behind their evacuation: “…that everything being in God’s hands… it cannot be other than good.”

Vice Admiral W.H.P. Blandy, Commander of the Bikini Test: “The bomb will not start a chain reaction in the water, converting it all to gas… letting all the ships on all the oceans drop down to the bottom… it will not blow out the bottom of the sea and let all the water run down the hole… it will not destroy gravity. I am not an atomic playboy, as one of my critics labeled me… exploding these bombs to satisfy my personal whim.”

Senator Owen Brewster’s speech on spies: “…our education is proceeding a pace as to how Russia operates… and how they got the atom bomb… not by independent research… but from America… from traitors within our own ranks.”

Civilians interviewed on whether or not America should build a hydrogen bomb:

“the Russians will try(sic) it anyhow… and should they learn the secret of its manufacture before we do… the life and security of all freedom-loving people will be in danger.”

“…that the United States of America should not necessarily use this bomb, but rather look upon it as a peaceful guardian and protector of the basic American doctrines of liberty and democracy… against the obstacles of Red Fascisms… materialistic and atheistic philosophy.”

Soldier at the detonation site of Castle-Bravo H-bomb test, when asked if he kept his mouth closed during the blast: “…I got a mouthful and face-ful of dirt.”

Father figure in American drama at the ending scene: “…all in all I’d say we’ve been very lucky around here… nothing to do now but wait for orders from the authorities and relax…”

Irony between sound and images

(At between 43:53-47:50)
Lewis L. Strauss, Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission, mentioned that “the 236 natives appear to me to be well and happy” and that the medical staff have reported that no illnesses or diseases will follow, after the nuclear fallout descended on some 20,000 natives due to reckless predictions on wind direction affecting the Castle-Bravo Test. His report was juxtaposed on images of the natives with obvious nuclear burnt marks on their skin and some with their hair dropping off.

(At around 01:12:35)
The footage of Richard Nixon addressing the issue of nuclear weapons being implemented into the nation’s artillery, is immediately followed by him ringing a big bell to signal the opening of “Mental Health Week” joyously, whereby he is said to have commented that the “ringing of the bell throughout the nation will be a reminder of suffering Americans.”

This footage of Nixon ringing the “Mental Health Week” bell was for me the most humorous part of the entire film. The filmmakers have edited the footages so cleverly, by placing such a serious speech right in front of a suggestive one. The bell-ringing footage was suggestive because it makes us link Vice President Nixon to ‘mental health problem’, and of course his eccentric little smile makes it all the easier to make that connection. Perhaps than, we might take his previous speech about the ‘precision and effectiveness’ of nuclear weapons with no more than a pinch of salt?

Note: * and ** were retrieved directly from the Internet Movie Database website.