This August 6 will mark the 65th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima by the American Air Force in an effort to end the Second World War in one fell swoop. The bomb not only eviscerated Hiroshima—where as many as 200,000 people eventually died—but disturbingly symbolized man’s entrance into the atomic age, where he now possessed the ability to “become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”
That quote comes from Manhattan Project director J. Robert Oppenheimer, referencing the Bhagavad Gita upon witnessing a test of the bomb in the New Mexico desert. A clip of his sobering reflections of that awe-inspiring and dreadful sight comes at the end of Lucy Walker’s Countdown to Zero, a well-timed if flawed documentary on the current state of nuclear proliferation produced by the hot-topic team behind An Inconvenient Truth (Lawrence Bender, Jeff Skoll, Diane Weyermann). Like Oppenheimer’s tearful evaluation, Countdown means to redirect attention to the human consequences and responsibilities of The Bomb, aimed especially at an American public that has placed the issue on the ideological backburner even as the nuclear threat has increased rather than decreased since the Cold War ended. Read the rest of Michael Joshua Rowin’s review of Countdown to Zero.