Half Life: A Parable for the Nuclear Age

Soon after dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the American military began looking for an “appropriate” place to test its nuclear weapons. They chose the Marshall Islands—tiny atolls in the mid-Pacific-for a number of reasons. The United States had recently taken these islands from Japan, they were a long way from America and they were populated by a small, and politically powerless group of natives. During the next decade the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission exploded at least sixty-six atomic and hydrogen bombs on these islands, contaminating them for centuries to come. HALF LIFE presents evidence that the U.S. government intentionally chose not to evacuate several populated atolls in order to establish the islanders as a control group—human guinea pigs—to test the long-and short-term effects of nuclear fallout.

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86 minutes


35mm, Color


Dennis O’Rourtke Thumbnail

Dennis O’Rourtke

Dennis O'Rourke is internationally recognized as one of the most exciting and perceptive filmmakers about tensions between European and traditional cultures.

His films chronicle the Pacific peoples' rearguard fight against the colonizers-economic, religious and military. O'Rourke's filmmaking is enlightened by an awareness of “cinema verité” while he also cites as his heroes fiction filmmakers, specifically Bresson and Ozu. His works have received wide recognition, with retrospective screenings at many prominent venues in the world.
Cunnamulla (2000)、The Pagode da Tia Beth (1993)、The Good Woman of Bangkok (1991)、Cannibal Tours (1988)、Half Life: A Parable For the Nuclear Age (1985)、Couldn't Be Fairer (1984)、The Sharkcallers of Kontu (1982)、Yap…How Did You Know We'd Like TV? (1980)、Ileksen (1979)、Yumi Yet (1976)