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Australia, 1992 (MIFF 1993, Documentaries)

Director: Peter Jordan

"Ever stood on top of a lookout and really leaned over to see how steep the cliff is? To look into the abyss is to see beyond it." Not only are human beings obsessed with staring down the barrel of the Apocalypse, but we are also guilty of striving to hold its power in our hands. Via great Japanese monster movie trailers, awesome A-Bomb archival footage and medieval paintings, the fascination with our demise is examined in frightening depth. Irrefutable in its truth (the proof is all there in well crafted fact and fiction) in this riveting analysis of where the power really lies.

The film's visual backbone is supplied by the passage of a day in contemporary Hiroshima while the ideas of four on-screen commentators propel the cinematic journey. They are the cultural philosopher George Steiner; New York psychoanalyst Robert Lifton; Donald Kuspit, New York art critic, and film writer and historian Vivian Sobchak. George Steiner, for whom the Holocaust has been the foundation of his cultural and aesthetic thinking, establishes the philosophic and mythic framework for the film. Robert Lifton examines Oppenheimer and the invention of nuclear weapons, and Vivian Sobchak reveals its reflections in popular culture in a century of self-inflicted horrors.

Richard Sowada

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