Government Atomic Testing Films Screened at the Center

1006 Still image from the Chinese nuclear testing program film, called "The Advancement of Chairman Mao Tse Tung's Thought," later called "Mao's Little Red Video." CLUI photo

GOVERNMENT-PRODUCED ATOMIC TESTING FILMS from the five declared nuclear nations were screened during an evening at The Center in January, as part of The Center's ongoing Nuclear Proving Grounds of the World Program. Films from France, China, the former USSR, the UK, and the USA were shown back to back, to a packed house at the CLUI function room in Los Angeles.

The evening was hosted by CLUI Director Matthew Coolidge, and the filmmaker Peter Kuran, director of the film Trinity and Beyond, who has unearthed many remarkable films at government archives, and has been spearheading efforts to declassify some of the thousands of historic military industrial films in archives across the nation.

Mr. Kuran provided the British nuclear testing film This Little Ship, which tells the story of the first British nuclear test, off the Monte Bello Islands of Australia, from the perspective of the sacrificial ship which held the bomb in its hold. Mr. Kuran also provided the lyrical Soviet film (which he purchased directly from the Russian government), which depicted the fielding of the largest nuclear weapon ever detonated, the 58 megaton Superbomb, which was dropped from a plane flying over the Siberian island of Novaya Zemyla. Simultaneous, live translation for the Soviet film was provided by CLUI associate George Chialtas.

Alex Du Prel, editor of Tahiti Pacifique magazine, obtained the French testing film for The Center, using contacts in the French government. This film, discussing testing at Muraroa Atoll, French Polynesia, in 1995, was the most recently produced film presented at the screening. Igor Vamos, of the CLUI, discovered the Chinese testing film in the archives at the University of California (while researching footage for his documentary film about Le Petomane, the turn-of-the-century French performer). This remarkable film features horsemen galloping into fallout zones, and describes the first three Chinese nuclear tests. The original film was obtained by American intelligence sources in China, and apparently was not declassified in the US until the 1980's.

The United States Department of Energy supplied the US testing program film, about underground testing at the Nevada Test Site.

Also on display at the screening was a large wall map indicating the location of the major test sites of the world, as well as the location of all the hundreds of single and small-number multiple nuclear test locations, including the rocket launch points for the several outer space explosions conducted by the USA. The CLUI‚Äąpublication Nuclear Proving Grounds of the World was also prepared for the exhibit, and is now available for purchase from The Center.