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One of the defining documentaries of the 20th century, THE ATOMIC CAFE (1982) offers a darkly humorous glimpse into mid-century America, an era rife with paranoia, anxiety, and misapprehension. Whimsical and yet razor-sharp, this timeless classic illuminates the often comic paradoxes of life in the “Atomic Age,” while also exhibiting a genuine nostalgia for an earlier and more innocent nation.
Narrated through an astonishing array of vintage clips and music–from military training films to campy advertisements, presidential speeches to pop songs–the film revolves around the threat–and thrill–of the newly minted atomic bomb. Taking aim at the propaganda and false optimism of the 1950s, the film’s satire shines most vividly in the clever image splicing, such as footage of a decimated Hiroshima alongside cheerful suburban “duck-and-cover” routines. More than anything else, THE ATOMIC CAFE shows how nuclear warfare infiltrated the living rooms of America, changing the nation from the inside out.
Immensely entertaining and devilishly witty, THE ATOMIC CAFE serves up a revealing slice of American history: the legendary decade when we learned to live in a nuclear world.
A selection of government propaganda films featured in THE ATOMIC CAFE in their entirety. With kind permission from the Prelinger Archives Duck and Cover (1951) - 9:15 Our Cities Must Fight (1951) 8:56 House in the Middle (1954) -12:10 Self Preservation in an Atomic Attack (1950) 17:41 Operation Crossroads (1946) Pt. 1 (12:06) & Pt. 2 (14:30) Operation Cue (1955) – 14:36 Survival Under Atomic Attack (1951) – 8:45 Birth of the B-29 (1945) – 20:10More Info
"A STUNNER, a movie that has one howling with laughter, horror and disbelief."
- The New York Times
"The blackest apocalyptic humor since Dr. Strangelove."
- The Washington Post
©1982 The Archives Project, Inc. Art and Design ©2008 New Video Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Marketed and distributed in the U.S. by New Video.