"The Atomic Cafe" (1982) Documentary
“The Atomic Café” is a 1982 documentary about the nuclear bomb threats that occurred in the United States throughout the Cold War. The producers of this documentary used different clips from the USA army, the nuclear defense guard and several filmmakers created an animation of what likely would happen if the bomb would go off, but they were ignorant and misled of what radiation can do to humans following the attack. Throughout the documentary, there were public emergency announcements, emergency practice drills where the people would go to a shelter for safety from the explosion.
The first part of “Atomic Café” illustrated the past two atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where many innocent individuals were dying as a result from the radiation. Several images of people with burns, missing limbs and missing body parts were illustrated to viewers because that was the reality of what a nuclear bomb can do. Then, several other tests were conducted to see how serious the radiation can be, and as a result the scientists chose to use an island with animals on the island to see what would happen.
The next part illustrated some of American’s ignorance to radiation from the effects of the bomb. In response to that, the documentary showed several films from the 1950s and 1960s were shown to the public of what to do if there is an atomic bomb or a threat in the area. As an example, several clips of people doing “duck and cover” and people entering shelters were shown how to survive a nuclear bomb, but it was likely just propaganda for the American people not to panic. On the other hand, the films from the US Army stated that the radiation can cause side effects such as losing hair but would grow back. Additionally, viewers of the atomic bombings and the tests thought the bomb was the most beautiful sight they have ever seen. This brought in dark humor going forward by naming drinks, taxi companies and a restaurant after the atomic bomb to normalize the term and concept.
Although many people were ignorant, the main intention for “Atomic Café” was to show the consequences of the atomic bomb tests using dark humor. The American public was misinformed how to safely survive a nuclear attack. Each of the clips shown throughout were informative and allowed viewers to pick a side of how they see the nuclear threat. Following the release of this documentary, many Americans were educated that these bombs are around but should not be used due to the consequences the radiation causes.