If more people were aware of what happened there, they'd think of another name for the bathing suit.
Imagine your legs swelling so much from radioactive fallout that they burst open? That's part of the story told in the documentary Radio Bikini that I watched Sunday afternoon on IFC. The most terrifying part of the story is told by the film clips of the sailors completely unaware of what was happening to them as they observed atomic bomb testing near Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The testing in 1946 was to determine the effect of the atom bomb on US warships. Most of the sailors were just kids and didn't know what radioactivity was. Nor were they told. When it was way too late, they understood just what serving their country in the military really meant.
There's also the heartbreaking story of the Bikini residents who were told they would return to their island after the testing and then finding out that they wouldn't return for 40 years. The Bikini's were sent off to a practically uninhabitable island where they suffered greatly. They moved several times after that. Furthermore, the US government knew that when they tested the atomic bomb that the winds were favorable to blow radioactive fallout to other Marshall islands.
Frightening are the clips that were long hidden from the world of what really happened there, the blatant disregard for life in the name of supremacy. By bringing the sailors to ground zero and filming them casually going about their day and laughingly putting their hands near the Geiger counters in order to show that people would be able to coexist with the earth after having been nuked makes you want to scream and run away. But to where? Everything the American people and the sailors heard about the tests was simply propaganda. This was the beginning of an age, a deadly age... a point of no return. Interestingly at the end of the flick, the generals were shown denouncing the atomic bomb and saying that it should never be used.
I believe the movie will be aired again on Tuesday, Jan 31 2006 12:30 PM on IFC.
There's a meme going around where people are thinking of the top 10 movies to describe America. I'd like to nominate Radio Bikini as one of the 10 films that describes the American propaganda machine, the blantant disregard for human life and the naivete of the citizens. Try to see it.