02/06/2016  
Take Me To The River on Blu-ray & DVD Feb 5Phantom From 10,000 Leagues (1956) on Blu-ray & DVD Jan 5Condemned on DVD & Blu-ray Jan 5Broad City: Season 2 on DVD Jan 5McHale's Navy: The Complete Series on DVD No 17Return to Sender on Blu-ray & DVD Sep 29The Phantom of the Opera with Lon Chaney Blu-ray & DVD Oct 13

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

Bernie Sanders confirms: 'I am Larry David'...
Breaking News: James Corden to Host the 2016 Tony Award...
Marty Balin Remembers Paul Kantner: 'He and I Opened Ne...
House of Cards season 5 renewal announced, showrunner B...
Joseph Fiennes plays Michael Jackson in British TV 'roa...
Nate Parker's 'The Birth of a Nation' a powerful film...
Chris Rock, Oscar host who really seems to hate the Osc...
Matt Damon Praises The Oscars For Voting Process Change...
Watch Iggy Pop, Josh Homme Debut 'Gardenia' on 'Colbert...
Charlotte Rampling Talks Oscar Diversity Controversy ...





Microsoft Store

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif



 Buy from Amazon

 Buy from Amazon.com

Docurama presents
The Atomic Cafe: 20th Anniversary Edition (1982)

"When not close enough to be killed, the atomic bomb is one of the most beautiful sights in the world."
- Narration from an Army training film

Review By: Dan Lopez  
Published: May 03, 2002

Stars: Various members of the U.S. government and military.
Director: Kevin Rafferty, Jayne Loader, Pierce Rafferty

Manufacturer: DVSS
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (some graphic photos and film of radiation-induced illness, animal experiments)
Run Time: 01h:27m:00s
Release Date: March 26, 2002
Genre: documentary


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ ACB- D-

DVD Review

Having lived my entire life in New Mexico, I've experienced, to a certain degree, what it's like to be surrounded by "atomic age" culture, at least on a subconscious level. The city of Los Alamos was the result of the Manhattan Project, which gave birth to the atomic bombs dropped on Japan, and to this day holds Sandia National Labs which, as I write, is a place busy with all sorts of secretive things "for national defense." I live only a few minutes from the Air Force base that houses the National Atomic Museum, and there are few major landmarks here that aren't, in some way, touched by either the atomic age or the military in general. It's an odd mixture of elements, because many things going on around here are about discovery and exploration; a good part of the space program came from this area. But there's the destructive dark side of possessing amazing amounts of power that emerges as weapons development as well. In some small and subtle ways, it's like the Cold War is still in the air, hidden just under the surface.

For better or worse, however, the experimental military projects of the late 1940s that went on in New Mexico changed the course of history. The Atomic Cafe is a film that tries to encapsulate the classic atomic era by going straight to the source: the original films, commercials and other propaganda, as well as the general hysteria that emerged during that time right in the heart of America. There are no interviews, no editorial views, and no postscripts. This is the United States of America, raw and uncut from the birth of the atom bomb to the height of the Cold War, and it's not pretty. Of course, I believe that's the point. Although parts of Atomic Cafe are funny, almost tragically so, overall, it is a compilation of footage that's more disturbing and horrifying than anything else. It is a collaged artwork of darkness that doesn't have to reach far or exert much effort to make its points, and ultimately those points expose the dark side of American history.

As I said, much of the film is funny in a strange way; for example, there is a filmstrip during which a man demonstrates how his little son can safely ride his bike during an apocalypse, so long as he wears a ridiculously cumbersome radiation suit. The quality of the commercial and educational films convincing people that atomic bombs are not insurmountably dangerous (except to people like Communists) is amazingly poor, making the humor even funnier. With this laugh at the expense of history, though, comes the scary stuff, like the McCarthy/Nixon Committee On Un-American Activities to the shocking behind-the-scenes footage of American soldiers on training maneuvers during an atom bomb blast who were lied to about the dangers of radiation. A few laughs will undoubtedly come out of this chilling segment of the film, though, when one sees the pathetic training films from such missions. It amazes me that the whole world wasn't destroyed during an era of such paranoia and fanatical hatred of all things "Un-American", and The Atomic Cafe is evidence of how that destruction almost happened.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: As most of the footage here is from stock dating to the 1940s, '50s, and '60s, the quality is obviously low and all over the map. Some segments are extremely poor, but nothing so bad it can't be watched. Docurama did its best with this material, but noticeable pixelization and compression artifacts do crop up. These really aren't flaws, though, and the overall quality is precisely what you'd expect from a transfer with such questionable source material.

Image Transfer Grade: C

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The audio is, like the footage, a bit worse for the wear but functional. For the most part, you're looking at mono dialogue and music given the age of the material. Otherwise, there are no complaints or issues.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: There are no additional features on the disc, save the basic menus and chapter selection.

Extras Grade: D-

 

Final Comments

Atomic Cafe is just as relevant today as when it was first released, perhaps more so than most might think. It's also a fantastic collage-style documentary, ranking with some of the finer examples of the genre, like The Ad and the Ego and Feed (which also featured the involvement of Kevin Rafferty). It is a must-see for virtually everyone and, in my opinion, should be required viewing in schools.

 


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search

DVD REVIEW ARCHIVE


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90

 



Microsoft Store

Keywords

celebrity, bernie sanders, larry david, anderson cooper, television, cbs, tony awards, james corden, the broadway league and the american theatre wing, music, jefferson airplane, paul kantner, marty balin, doors, netflix, house of cards, president frank underwood, kevin spacey, robin wright, comedy, michael jackson, joseph fiennes, movie, nate parker, the birth of a nation, sundance film festival, nat turner, d.w. griffiths, movies, academy awards show, chris rock, will smith, white chicks, icymi, matt damon, the martian, cheryl boone isaacs, iggy pop, josh homme, gardenia, the late show, stephen colbert, post pop depression, academy award controversy, charlotte rampling, 45 years, cheryl boone, glenn frey, eagles, don henley, post-beach boys california pop, disco, punk, rock and roll hall of fame, david bowie, alan rickman, cancer, cameron crowe, rolling stone, ride along 2, ice cube, kevin hart, buddy-cop action-comedy, debbie harry, chris stein, blondie, heros, ricky gervais, jeffrey tambor, mozart in the juncle, aziz ansari, mr. robot, quentin tarantino, china box office, $32.1 million, walt disney, lip sync battle, beyonce, channing tatum, jena dewan tatum, paula abdul, spike tv, premieres, shades of blue, jennifer lopez, nbc, angel from hell, my diet is better than yours, abc, adele, 26, 7.44 million album sales, amc, the walking dead, frank darabont, glen mazzara, pbs, downton abbey season 6, gareth neame, sophie mcshera, paul copley, nichola burley, michelle dockery, the bachelor, bachelorette, ben higgins, alex michel, aaron buerge, andrew firestone, bob guiney, game of thrones, george r.r. martin, the winds of winter, song of ice and fire, kanye west, facts, bill cosby, steve harvey, miss universe, cosby show, george lucas, charlie rose, star wars: the force awakens, disney, star wars, harrison ford, mark hamill, carrie fisher, aging, sports, basketball, meadowlark lemon, wilt chamberlain, u.s. army, basketball hall of fame, clown prince of basketball, ritz theater, nathaniel rateliff, night sweats, blues band, denver, nathaniel rateliff & the night sweats., director alejandro gonz‡lez i–‡rritu, leonardo dicaprio, the revenant, forrest goodluck, tom hardy, reality competition, the voice, jordan smith, yahoo musicŐs reality rocks

On Facebook!
digitallyOBSESSED!
digitallyOBSESSED!
Promote Your Page Too

Visit:

Zarabesque.com

Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store