The Pacific Film Archive is showing some movies as part of the series of events about the atomic bomb. Last week i went to see The Day After Trinity, which told the story of the development of the atomic bomb at Los Alamos. What struck me most about the film was the scale of the undertaking. I must admit that i have come to think of technology as an "easy" thing to some extent — i'm steeped in the expectations of instant gratification that come with computer programming, and inundated with so many technology announcements in the news that frequent miracles seem inevitable. These days, exponential growth is commonplace. But they had to build an entire town to house the atomic bomb project, flew in hundreds of top scientists from all over the country, and had them and their families move there. Huge plants at multiple sites laboured to produce tiny amounts of uranium and plutonium. The force of the push that it took to produce the atomic bomb — both from the top and within the organization — was enormous.
It amazes me to realize that it really might never have happened. A truly extraordinary combination of people, resources, and luck was necessary to make it happen.
Tonight i saw Crossroads, a film by Bruce Conner. It wasn't nearly so interesting; the entire movie consisted of the same explosion (an underwater test at Bikini Atoll) repeated dozens of times with eerie music. It was impressive and fascinating the first couple of times, but then i lost interest; the explosion became an abstract physical phenomenon, divorced from nature, life, and humanity.