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Atomic Cafe


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Product Details

  • Actors: Paul Tibbets, Harry S. Truman, W.H.P. Blandy, Brien McMahon, Lloyd Bentsen
  • Directors: Jayne Loader, Kevin Rafferty, Pierce Rafferty
  • Producers: Jayne Loader, Kevin Rafferty, Pierce Rafferty
  • Format: Color, DVD-Video, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: NR
  • Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: June 1 2002
  • Run Time: 86 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000060MW1
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #19,559 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

Product Description

Amazon.ca

The atomic bomb changed the world forever, and this wonderful film shows how Americans expressed wonder over atomic weapons and then suffered from the pervasive fear that America would be on the receiving end of a Soviet nuclear attack. Atomic Cafe is a brilliant compilation of archival film clips beginning with the first atomic bomb detonation in the New Mexico desert. The footage, much of it produced as government propaganda, follows the story of the bomb through the two atomic attacks on Japan that ended World War II to the bomb's central role in the cold war. Shown along with the famous "duck and cover" Civil Defense films are lesser-known clips, many of which possess a bizarre black humor when seen today, and it's easy to see why this film, which was produced in the early 1980s, became a cult classic sometimes referred to as the "nuclear Reefer Madness." Bellicose congressmen are shown advocating a freewheeling policy of nuclear strikes against China during the Korean War, suburban families are shown enjoying the comforts of their bomb shelters, and footage of a boy trying to bicycle to a bomb shelter in a "bomb survival suit" his father designed is priceless. Atomic Cafe is at once clever and poignant, a canny and offbeat look at a significant period in American history. --Robert J. McNamara

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: DVD
The Atomic Cafe gives us an excellent look at the development of the atomic bomb, the H bomb and the repercussions it had on the world, including America. Although some parts provide black humor, I saw things like the "duck and cover" scenes as being symptomatic of a time when people truly thought America could at any time come under nuclear attack by its arch enemy, the former Soviet Union.

The film begins with the test detonation of an atom bomb in the desert of New Mexico and proceeds roughly chronologically to tell the story of how the atom bomb helped to end World War II. We get footage of the bomb's mushroom cloud after it was dropped on Hiroshima; and there is a plethora of footage and film clips from the era regarding how government taught Americans to think about the bomb as the tool to destroy all our enemies. We also see much paranoia fueling these government films which are often little more than poorly disguised propaganda films of the day.

However, a closer look reveals the absolute obsession Americans experienced about the threat of the Soviet Union to rob them of their "American dream." Communism was fought against vigorously--not just in Congress but in the form of protest marches, films churned out by the American government and radio and TV talk shows of the day. I could not help but feel sympathy for people who genuinely believed that at any moment an enemy like the Soviet Union could destroy almost all of Los Angeles, Minneapolis or New York. I remember how I myself had those fears at times when I was a young boy.

Overall, the footage and the pace of the documentary provide us with excellent insight about how Americans thought and dealt with the newborn atomic age during tough times; and this film held my attention well.
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Format: DVD
Yep, get those fallout shelters dug and those lead suits pressed! It's time for THE ATOMIC CAFE! Culled from archival footage and spliced together to make the best presentation of the nuclear nightmare I've ever seen. Watch as politicians talk about the benefits and wonders of the hydrogen bomb! See ordinary folks being lulled to sleep by official propoganda! Listen to the military brass tell their troops about the minor threat of the live nuke test they are about to experience up close! Hear the pure balogna told to the poor natives of the Bikini atoll, just before the test blast that would bring tons of radiation raining down on their smiling heads! This is more than a movie, it's a damning slice of history. Nothing gets across the vastness of our own insanity like our own words and actions! The atomic age becomes the atomic culture as we live in fear of the russians and the bomb. Most of the statements by politicians and military types are so ridiculous, it's as though they were scripted by Mel Brooks! The true horror of this movie lies in it's presentation of real people saying and doing irrational, stupid things. Watch it and tremble...
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Format: DVD
With a clever montage of 1940s/1950s news clips and Civil Defense and military training films overlaid with off-beat contemporary songs about The Bomb, the creators of THE ATOMIC CAFE produced a film that will amaze the post-Cold War generation and cause those who lived during that period to ask, "Could that be us?"
This docu-drama begins with the Trinity atomic test blast in New Mexico in 1945, then proceeds through the annihilation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the subsequent atomic test at Bikini atoll. With the acquisition of the A-bomb by the Soviets in 1949 - my birth year - and the Korean War, the film gets into the meat of the piece, which is a visual commentary on the paranoia about the Red Menace and Nuclear Armageddon which gripped the United States during Eisenhower's two terms as President.
THE ATOMIC CAFE is alternately funny, sobering, and shocking. Funny, as when Kruschev and Nixon verbally joust in a comedic Tricky Dick and Nicky routine during the former's visit to the States. And the training films depicting citizens, singly and in large groups, on the streets and in schools, doing the "duck and cover" drill in response to the hypothetical Big One. Sobering, as when a priest discusses the merits of excluding non-family members from your personal bomb shelter. (In a departure from Christian charity, he was all for it.) Or the message given to Army troops assigned to the near vicinity of test explosions, which was that in a real atomic war it would be the blast that kills them, not the radiation. And shocking, as when we see the disfiguring burns and blisters affecting the residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as the pigs exposed to subsequent test detonations in the desert Southwest.
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Format: DVD
The Atomic Cafe is a cult classic Cold War documentary, focusing on the development and deployment of nuclear weapons from the perspective of the U.S. in 1982. Some of the footage of nuclear detonations is breath-taking, especially when placed into the perspective of the time.
The Atomic Cafe does a masterful job of weaving together news reports, government information films, public service announcements and dramas from World War II right up through the Cold War of 1982. It's interesting to watch the sometimes frightening, sometimes naive and sometimes even humorous moments that illustrate the American culture adapting to a world in which it had the ultimate destructive power (the atomic bomb), then lost the edge over the menacing Soviet Union, then developed an even more powerful weapon (the hydrogren bomb) and then saw the Soviets catch up yet again.
Some of the moments in the documentary are just classic, thanks to great footage but even more, awesome editing. For instance, one part shows a man looking at a newspaper and he says "well, at least we don't have to worry. We're the ones with the bomb!" Then there is a cut to someone stating that the Soviets now have the bomb.
Then there is the naivety: Another part shows an Army officer briefing a company of soldiers who will be deployed into a nuclear area shortly after a test detonation. He tells them that there is this "new" threat called "radiation", but that they won't have to worry about it too much. They then show these soldiers in their trenches immediately after the detonation and they stand up to see, while radioactive dirt and debris whooshes over them. A news reporter asks one of the soldiers: "Did you close your mouth?" The soldier answers, laughing: "No, I got a mouthful!"
If anything, the Atomic Cafe is a stark reminder of where we've been. It'll definitely be something interesting for my children to watch someday.
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