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REVIEW: _Dark Oracle_

Anonymous — November 1983

Produced and Directed by July Irving, Chris Beaver and Ruth Landy

An experiment. Drop a live frog into a pan of boiling water. Result: frog feels the heat and jumps out again relatively unharmed. Then put a frog into tepid water. and increase the heat incrementally. Result: the frog’s body heat adapts to the rising temperature, and it eventually boils to death. At no point does the frog decide that the heat is unbearable or dangerous.

No, we’re not suggesting that you try this cruel experiment. The experiment is an analogy for the world in which we live, suggested by Pam Solo of the American Friends Service Committee in the film Dark Circle.

Since the dawn of humanity, we’ve been ‘improving’ our methods of waging war on each other. With the development of the atomic bomb and the hydrogen bomb, we made large leaps toward the ‘boiling point.’ In the analogy, it’s the frog who dies -no big deal, most of us would say. In the real world, however I the ‘boiling point’ will be the end of life as we know it on our planet.

Albert Einstein once said that with the development of nuclear technology, everything changed except the way we humans think and act. The frog adapts. but remains unaware of the danger it is in.

Peace activists have all faced the same difficulty — reaching people and convincing them of the urgency of the situation. We’ve all found our. selves prosletysing, debating, and persuading people to look at the world we live in. Many of us have found ourselves in a .dilemma, We point to indications of this urgency. but we find that the heavy-handed, evangelical approach turns people off.

Dark Circle avoids the hysterical, indignant appeal that many of us feel we must use. Instead, it relies on the facts, the human costs of nuclear technology, presented without melodrama. None of the people profiled break into tears, and the narrator’s voice remains calm and matter-of-fact. Much of the strength of the film stems from this ‘honest’ approach. By no means does this careful, logical presentation of the facts leave the audience bored or uninvolved. It is unlikely that anyone could see this film and remain tranquil. It reaches into its audience and locates their sense of horror and of compassion. no matter how deeply they’re buried.

If You Love This Planet and The Day After focus on the effects of nuclear war on humans and their planet. Dark Circle has an additional focus — it concentrates on the danger inherent in the preparations for nuclear war; the arms race itself.

Starting with Rockwell International’s Rocky Flats plant (where they produce the plutonium triggers for H-bombs), we are shown what people go through when a nuclear munitions factory moves into the neighbourhood. The film goes on to explore the link between nuclear weaponry and nuclear energy, and reviews the history of nuclear technology, showing atomic tests on buildings, cars, pigs and, yes, people.

The film is powerful, compelling, painful, inspiring and convincing — everything one could hope for from a film of this nature. Long-time peace activists, continually exposed to the type of information presented here, will still find Dark Circle outstanding. Most importantly, however, they must make sure others see the film. Show it to your union local, your students, your church congregation, your family and friends. Whatever it’ takes, but get people to see it.

Dark Circle is more than a horror story. In its honest, straightforward presentation of humans in conflict with nuclear technology, it reaches Out to its audience, rather than alienating it.

If humans cannot face the truth, we are no better off than the frog.

Jon Spencer