The Atomic Cafe

"Good"

The Atomic Cafe Review


Documentaries don't get much stranger than this, but neither does the technology underneath The Atomic Cafe.

A 1982 film now being issued on DVD, The Atomic Cafe is a lighthearted look at nuclear war, produced during the height of the Cold War entirely using stock footage from the 1940s and 1950s. It's a gimmick, but it's a good one -- as the look back at such uniquely American moments as pre-fab bomb shelters, "Duck... and cover!" and the perils of radiation sickness (Your hair will return, the same color as before!) make for chuckle-worthy and sobering experiences.

At the same time, the gimmick wears thin, as the filmmakers try to weave the old footage into a kind of mock narrative, from the first flight of the Enola Gay to riding out a domestic nuclear explosion in a shelter. The attempt at cobbling this together doesn't work, and it doesn't come off nearly as funny as the raw footage itself.

A few commentaries about a nuclear holocaust have been attempted -- and Dr. Strangelove stands out as the greatest success -- butThe Atomic Cafe strikes out a middle ground between surrealism and pop culture. There are certainly lessons in the film about hysteria and misinformation, but their delivery is hampered by someone with an overactive need to poke fun. As such, you need to take the movie itself with a grain of salt -- just like you do with the leaders and filmmakers it skewers.



The Atomic Cafe

Facts and Figures

Run time: 86 mins

In Theaters: Friday 29th October 1982

Distributed by: Docurama

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Fresh: 15

IMDB: 7.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Jayne Loader, Kevin Rafferty, Pierce Rafferty

Producer: Jayne Loader, Kevin Rafferty, Pierce Rafferty

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