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A Is For Atom (1952)

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Uploaded on Jul 30, 2009

Although the "Atoms for Peace" campaign was formally launched in 1957, corporate America began to promote peaceful uses of atomic energy as early as the first few months after Hiroshima. A Is For Atom, an artifact of this effort, takes this highly loaded and threatening issue straight to the public in an attempt to "humanize" the figure of the atom.
A Is For Atom speaks of five atomic "giants" which "man has released from within the atom's heart": the warrior and destroyer, the farmer, the healer, the engineer and the research worker. Each is pictured as a majestic, shimmering outline figure towering over the earth. "But all are within man's power Ñ subject to his command," says the narrator reassuringly, and our future depends "on man's wisdom, on his firmness in the use of that power."
General Electric, a long-time manufacturer of electric appliances, power generation plants, and nuclear weapon components, is staking a claim here, asserting their interest in managing and exploiting this new and bewildering technology. Its pitch: this is powerful, frightening, near-apocalyptic technology, but managed with firmness, it can be profitable and promising. This "Trust us with the control of technology, and we'll give you progress without end" pitch resembles what we've seen in films like General Motors' To New Horizons (on the Ephemeral Films disc). But the automobile, of course, wasn't a weapon of mass destruction.
In its first two years of release, A Is For Atom was seen by over seven million people in this version and a shortened ten-minute theatrical cut. In 1953 it won first prizes in both the Columbus (Ohio) and Turin (Italy) Film Festivals, the Freedoms Foundation Award, an "oscar" from the Cleveland Film Festival, and a Merit Award from Scholastic Teacher. In 1954 it won first prize in the Stamford Film Festival, a Golden Reel Award from the American Film Assembly, and a second Grand Award from the Venice Film Festival. The film was remade in the mid-sixties and is still available for rental.
Like other John Sutherland films, A Is For Atom presents a portentious message in a visually delightful and often self-deprecating manner. "Element Town" and its quirky inhabitants, including hyped-up Radium and somnolent Lead, is unforgettable, and the animated chain reaction manages to avoid any suggestion of nuclear fear.

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  1. 1

    Duck And Cover (1951) Bert The Turtle Civil Defense Film

  2. 2

    The 280 MM Gun At The Nevada Proving Ground

  3. 3

    The 280mm Atomic Cannon - Nuclear Artillery Test

  4. 4

    The House In The Middle (1954)

  5. 5

    Operation Tumbler Snapper (1952)

  6. 6

    A-Bomb Blast Effects (1959)

  7. A Is For Atom (1952)

  8. 8

    Operation Ivy - Nuclear Fusion Test Film (1952)

  9. 9

    Operation Castle (1954)

  10. 10

    Project Crossroads - Nuclear Test Film (1946)

  11. 11

    Chinese Nuclear Testing Film (1966) Translated

  12. 12

    Atomic Alert (1951) Elementary Version

  13. 13

    Operation Cue (1955)

  14. 14

    Atomic Weapons Tests Trinity Through Buster Jangle 1945 - 1951

  15. 15

    Operation Wigwam - Underwater Nuclear Test Film (1955)

  16. 16

    About Fallout (1963)

  17. 17

    Nuclear Bomb Test Subsidence Crater Formation

  18. 18

    Operation Ivy (1952)

  19. 19

    Operation Crossroads - Able And Baker Day Tests (1946)

  20. 20

    Trinity Shot (1945)

  21. 21

    Nuclear Testing Review - Nuclear Test Film

  22. 22

    H-Bomb Blast Exploded At 15,000 Feet Over Pacific (1956)

  23. 23

    Atom Bomb Joe Bonica's Movie Of The Month

  24. 24

    A Day Called X (1957)

  25. 25

    First Pictures Atomic Blast! 1946 Newsreel

  26. 26

    Exercise Desert Rock (1951)

  27. 27

    Operation Castle (1954)

  28. 28

    Operation Dominic (1962)

  29. 29

    About Fallout (1955)

  30. 30

    A Tale Of Two Cities (1946)

  31. 31

    Operation Upshot Knothole (1953)

  32. 32

    Operation Argus (1958) Atmospheric Nuclear Tests

  33. 33

    Stay Safe, Stay Strong: The Facts About Nuclear Weapons (1960)

  34. 34

    Civil Defense PSA (1965)

  35. 35

    Damage and Destruction - Nuclear Test Film (Silent)

  36. 36

    The Atom Strikes! (1948) Devastation Of Hiroshima And Nagasaki

  37. 37

    The DEW Line Story

  38. 38

    Operation Teapot Military Effects Studies (1954)

  39. 39

    Self Preservation In An Atomic Attack (1950)

  40. 40

    Operation Redwing - Nuclear Test Film (1956)

  41. 41

    Operation Hardtack, Military Effects Studies, Part 1 - Basic Effects, Structures And Material (1958)

  42. 42

    Operation Redwing Military Effects Study (1956)

  43. 43

    Medical Aspects Of Nuclear Radiation (1950)

  44. 44

    Operation Hardtack, Military Effects Studies, Part 3 - Underwater Tests (1958)

  45. 45

    Operation Ranger, Operation Buster/Jangle - Nuclear Test Film (1951)

  46. 46

    Survival Under Atomic Attack (1951)

  47. 47

    Operation Upshot-Knothole - Nuclear Test Film (1953)

  48. 48

    Operation Teapot (1954)

  49. 49

    Atom Fallout - New Tests Begin As Safety Debate Rages (1957)

  50. 50

    Operation Hardtack, Military Effects Studies, Part 2 - High Altitude Studies (1958)

  51. 51

    Radiological Defense (1961)

  52. 52

    Operation Cue - 1964 Revision Of The 1955 Test

  53. 53

    Project Dugout (1960) Silent

  54. 54

    Atomic Attack (1950)

  55. 55

    Operation Tumbler-Snapper - Nuclear Test Film (1952)

  56. 56

    Operation Greenhouse - Nuclear Test Film (1951)

  57. 57

    The Atom And Biological Science (1952)

  58. 58

    Operation Sandstone, Blast Measurements Group - Nuclear Test Film

  59. 59

    Radioactive Fallout and Shelter (1965) Audio Out Of Synch

  60. 60

    Military Participation On Operation Buster Jangle Military (1951)

  61. 61

    Operation Sandstone U.S. Army Engineers - Nuclear Test Film

  62. 62

    Atomic Power at Shippingport ca 1958

  63. 63

    Operation Upshot-Knothole Project 5.2 - Nuclear Test Film (Silent 1953)

  64. 64

    News Magazine Of The Screen: Atomic Energy

  65. 65

    Medic - Flash of Darkness (1955)

  66. 66

    Operation Sandstone U.S. Navy - Nuclear Test Film

  67. 67

    The Atom Goes To Sea (1954)

  68. 68

    Nuclear Effects Testing At White Sands

  69. 69

    Medical Aspects Of Nuclear Radiation (1950)

  70. 70

    Living with the Atom (1957)

  71. 71

    Management of Mass Casualties, Part X: Management of Psychological Casualties (1958)

  72. 72

    Operation Sandstone (1948)

  73. 73

    Special Delivery (1946)

  74. 74

    Science in Action: Radar Defense Screen 1956

  75. 75

    Operation Sandstone U.S. Air Force Participation - Nuclear Test Film

  76. 76

    Guided Missile Navy Tests Newest Atomic War Weapon Newsreel

  77. 77

    Operation Sandstone, EG& G, Project 19-18 Film - Nuclear Test Film

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