The Atomic Cafe

( 6 )

Overview

The Atomic Cafe is a sometimes hilarious, sometimes sobering collection of film clips taken from American propaganda films of the 1950s. The thrust of the production is to expose the misinformation and downright lies dispensed by the government concerning the atomic bomb. We are shown vignettes from such classic instructional films as Duck and Cover, wherein school children are assured that they will survive a nuclear attack simply by huddling together next to the schoolhouse wall. In another sequence, a pack of ...
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Overview

The Atomic Cafe is a sometimes hilarious, sometimes sobering collection of film clips taken from American propaganda films of the 1950s. The thrust of the production is to expose the misinformation and downright lies dispensed by the government concerning the atomic bomb. We are shown vignettes from such classic instructional films as Duck and Cover, wherein school children are assured that they will survive a nuclear attack simply by huddling together next to the schoolhouse wall. In another sequence, a pack of pigs are dressed in Army uniforms and left to die at "Ground Zero" during a nuclear test to see if human beings who purportedly have the same skin consistency as pigs could endure such an ordeal. Fascinating though it is, Atomic Cafe makes its basic point early in the proceedings, then tends to repeat that point over and over rather than expand upon it.
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Special Features

Bonus disc featuring 8 government propaganda films in their entirety
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Produced when the anti-nuclear movement was finding new strength in the United States, The Atomic Cafe is a disturbing and disquieting but frequently hilarious meditation on the early days of the atomic bomb. Produced with no voiceover narration, Cafe tells its tale through the editing of various clips from the 1940s and 1950s, along with some vintage nuclear-themed recordings of the era. Contemporary audiences will likely be mystified at the naïveté and ignorance exhibited by many of the ordinary citizens interviewed therein, and appalled at the lies of many of those in authority at the time. The blatant manipulation within much of the propaganda certainly produces laughs, but it also makes one ponder the gullibility of the American public, regardless of era. The many shots of atom and hydrogen bombs exploding also have a strange effect. While they are frequently frightening, the images themselves when taken objectively have a certain beauty. While the repetition of the film's basic message -- that America was (and continues to be) unwilling to face the unpleasant truth about its involvement with nuclear artillery and denied that truth in a variety of ways -- and its ironic tone both become wearing after a while. Nevertheless, the finale, in which a series of devastating explosions is intercut with people engaging in the futile "safety" tips given them by the government, is powerful and haunting.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 11/25/2008
  • UPC: 767685134405
  • Original Release: 1982
  • Rating:

  • Source: New Video Group
  • Presentation: Special Edition
  • Time: 1:28:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 55,309

Cast & Crew

Technical Credits
Jayne Loader Director, Editor, Producer
Kevin Rafferty Director, Editor, Producer
Pierce Rafferty Director, Editor, Producer
Miklós Rózsa Score Composer
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Atomic Cafe
1. The Trinity Test [4:52]
2. Guilt Complex [5:28]
3. Bikini [6:22]
4. Year of Division [4:03]
5. Wwiii? [6:15]
6. Communist Hunt [8:31]
7. H-Bomb [6:23]
8. Radiation Fallout [8:46]
9. Camp Desert Rock [10:38]
10. Duck and Cover [8:57]
11. Atomic Love [8:47]
12. Cold War [6:18]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- Atomic Cafe
   Play
   Scene Selection
   Extras
      About Docurama
      Catalog/Trailers
      Credits
Disc #2 -- Atomic Cafe
   Play All
   Bonus Films
      Duck and Cover (1951)
      Our Cities Must Fight (1951)
      House in the Middle (1954)
      Self Preservation in an Atomic Attack (1950)
      Operation Crossroads Pt. 1 (1946)
      Operation Crossroads Pt. 2 (1946)
      Operation Cue (1955)
      Survival Under Atomic Attack (1951)
      Birth of the B-29 (1945)
   Extras
      Filmmaker Bios
      Jayne Loader
      Kevin Rafferty
      Pierce Rafferty
      About Docurama
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 6 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    An exploration of the Cold War from the film maker's perspective

    Atomic Cafe is a collection of documentary type footage, taken from the 1940s to the 1960s. I say Documentary type footage because the material included in these films is not exactly informing people of how they could reasonably expect to survive a nuclear war, as the films purport to do.

    There are some interesting things to take notice of, for instance the view that a heavy shelling of a region is used to soften up a target before the infantry moved in to secure it. This is the reason the military, shortsightedly at the very least, negligently at most, sent young men who had parents and Congressmen into a region which would almost certainly lead to a painful death from illness related to radiation. The radiation sickness might be avoided in the early stages after a blast, but the medical tracking on cancer caused by radiation was not yet as advanced as it is today. The majority of deaths from the bombs in Japan had been from heat and blast, and other injuries due to radiation sickness and injury. It would be some 20 years before medical science would begin connecting radiation to cancer. By August 9, 1965, atmospheric testing of nuclear bombs had been banned by the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Dive under your table and watch this film

    The creators of this film firmly believe the adage that; it is better to laugh than to cry. They do a great job of collecting the most important pieces of historical footage of Atomic Bomb detonations and presents it with a an eye on revealing how ridiculous the government's advice was for it's own people and how ridiculous the public response was because of it. It is a thoroughly entertaining film but hard to classify. I have very mixed feelings when watching the film because my own father was on one of the ships that were sent by the Navy to assist in atomic bomb tests in the 1950's. The radiation he received eventually caused his death several decades later. So I don't take this subject matter lightly, but I believe the handling of it in this film is absolutely ingenious.

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    Posted April 19, 2009

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    Posted January 5, 2010

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    Posted February 2, 2011

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    Posted February 2, 2011

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews