Nuclear power is back in fashion as a means to wean Europe off Russian gas.
Not so long ago, the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan convinced Germany to abandon atomic energy. Before that, the disaster in Chernobyl, Ukraine gave Europe pause.
The Atom: A Love Affair shows that such ups and downs are not unusual in our 70-year relationship with this form of energy. We have been falling in and out of love with the atom since the 1950s.
The documentary, which is streaming on Netflix or Vimeo (depending on your location), is admirably fair. I don’t think either proponents or opponents of nuclear power will find it leans too far in one direction or the other. I’m for it, and I thought the film presented the pros and cons accurately.
I also liked that it didn’t just cover the history of atomic power in America or Britain, but France and Germany as well; two countries with a fascinating nuclear history. Japan and Russia are missing, but you can’t do everything in one and a half hours.
The filmmakers were able to interview some impressive names: Tony Benn, the British minister in charge of nuclear power under Harold Wilson; Marcel Boiteux, a former head of Électricité de France; Harold Bolter, the longtime director of British Nuclear Fuels; Ralph Nader, the consumer advocate who campaigned against nuclear energy in the United States; and Jürgen Trittin, a former German energy minister for the Green party. Their segments are interspersed with brief scenes from old Hollywood movies to support the “love affair” theme. It’s a little cheeky, but it also lightens the mood of what would otherwise be a very serious topic.
Visit the documentary’s website to learn more, and gave it a watch!