The Atomic Cafe

Topics History


The destruction of Nazi Germany by the Allied forces had ended fighting in Europe. In the Pacific, Japan was desperately fighting a losing battle against America and her allies. At Alamogordo, New Mexico, a new secret weapon was about to be tested in the desert.

The Atomic Cafe is a sometimes humorous, look at the collection of propaganda film clips taken from American Army films, newsreels, government films and old television broadcasts to offer a glimpse into mid-century America, exposing the misinformation to government fed the world regarding the atomic bomb.

Presented without narration, the movie shows school students participating in civil defence programs, one being the instructional film Duck and Cover, in which school children are assured that they can survive a nuclear bomb attack by crowding together next to a schoolhouse wall. In another scene, a drift of pigs are dressed in Army uniforms and left to die at Ground Zero during a nuclear test to see if we could endure such an experience.

If this film has a message beyond its obvious one, it would be how nuclear warfare infiltrated the living rooms of America, acting as a reminder that, in the 1950s the U.S. government spent a great deal of its resources addressing the possibility of nuclear war.

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