Saturday, January 30, 2016

Atomin paluu / Return of the Atom

Return of the Atom. Please do click to enlarge the image.
    Directors: Mika Taanila, Jussi Eerola
    Country: Finland, Germany
    Year: 2015
    Length: 110 min
    Rating: S
    Format: DCP
    Cinematography: Jussi Eerola
    Editing: Mika Taanila
    Audio: Olli Huhtanen
    Music: Pan Sonic
    Production: Cilla Werning/Kinotar Oy, Meike Martens/Blinker Filmproduktion GmbH
Languages: Finnish, Polish, German, Russian, French, English
Subtitles: English by Jaana Wiik.
    DocPoint, Helsinki, screener link viewed.
    © 2015 Kinotar / Blinker / ZDF
    Films: Three-Two-One-Zero (US 1954), Zdravstvui, atom (SU 1965), Gammera the Invincible (US 1966) / Gamera (JP 1965), Die Söhne der grossen Bärin (DD 1966).
    Korjaamo / Kulmasali: Saturday 30.1. at 20:00

Catalog and website: "Mika Taanila’s and Jussi Eerola’s documentary Return of the Atom was eventually completed well before its main subject, the third nuclear facility in Olkiluoto that has been under construction for over 10 years now. Eerola’s cinematography reveals both the brigh and the dark side of ”the most electrified county in Finland”. Taanila’s editing is farcical, whereas Pan Sonic’s score reminds of horror films. The film voices the thoughts of both the French ringmasters holding the strings and the workers who have had to suffer all the mishaps and negligence on the construction site. Also a prominent character is a tireless local advocate of nuclear energy."

"At its core, Return of the Atom is a film about rhetoric: how to sell a nuclear facility to the townsfolk; how lobbyists begin to fumble in their pitches; how the safety of nuclear energy turns out to be matter of faith. The Polish construction workers have even brought a spiritual guide of their own with them. The world and the climate of opinion outside Olkiluoto have long ago moved on, but the reactor remains unfinished.
" Tytti Rantanen / Translation: Tapio Reinekoski

AA: Mika Taanila and Jussi Eerola's Return of the Atom has been many years in the making, and during the long gestation period Taanila has created other works on the subject.

This feature film itself is an epic documentary on the first European nuclear power plant being built since Chernobyl: the Olkiluoto 5 on the West coast of Finland. The construction was launched in 2005 and was supposed to be finished by 2009. The project was continued despite Fukushima and the fact that meanwhile Germany has made the decision to shut down all its nuclear power plants.

The huge Olkiluoto construction site is covered via spectacular cinematography, including fascinating time lapse sequences.

We see the official story and the story of the doubters. One of the opponents tells she was harassed and forced to move. Another one, a lone protester, gets fired.

The theme is deadly serious but there are droll inserts including vintage pro-nuclear propaganda films from the US and the USSR.

The approach is neutral and deadpan. A lot of serious questions are raised, including issues of security, safety, health, and nature. There is also the fundamental question of planning that is so badly botched so many times. It seems incredible when dealing with something as precarious as nuclear power. Not a laughing matter.

The soundscape is original and fascinating and the cinematography is of high quality.

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