Atomic Energy as a Force for Good (film #410 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Military & Propaganda]

Rancher John Vernon is approached by a representative of the Atomic Energy Commission who wants to buy options on his land for building a nuclear power plant. Vernon is against having anything to do with "the bomb" and he gets the town to pass a resolution petitioning their congressman to stop the plant from being built. So the pro-nuke congressman comes to town, bringing along with him an atomic scientist, who shows them all a film about the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. One of those uses involves using radiation to identify the location of brain tumors, and this really gets to Vernon, because his little granddaughter has one and doctors have given her a death sentence. Suddenly, he flip-flops his stance and is all for the nuclear plant being built. This film is very earnest and tries very hard to be fair about this issue, making Vernon and the other townspeople thoughtful and intelligent instead of ignorant knee-jerkers in their opposition to the plant, but its pro-nuke stance is obvious and that in the end makes the resolution overly simplistic. Just because there are some benefits of atomic research does not really resolve the issues the townspeople originally brought up. Perhaps if the film had made it more clear what specifically the proposed plant was supposed to do it would have helped. As it is, it promotes black-and-white thinking about nuclear energy––if it's not 100% evil, if you can find even the tiniest benefit from it, then you must be 100% for it. Sorry, but I think it's a lot more complex than that. And it's disturbing to me to see the town be so easily reassured about atomic energy. The film's very earnestness and intelligence make it a much more subtle and effective piece of propaganda than the campier films on this site, and that makes it more disturbing.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.

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