"Dark Circle," a grisly scrapbook of nuclear memorabilia, peacefully indicts the nuclear powerbrokers, linking power plants to bomb factories in what becomes a strong plea not just for peace, but for no more nukes of any kind. The filmmakers -- Judy Irving, Chris Beaver, Ruth Landy -- argue that producing a bomb, let alone dropping one, endangers the life of this planet.
Narrator Irving seems as unrehearsed as a schoolgirl giving a book report when she speaks of genetic damage and radioactive half-life. Her lack of polish and pretense give the film an eerie super-realism. One plutonium trigger, she says, can give everybody alive cancer; there are 50,000 triggers now, with three new ones being made every working day. The plutonium is a natural byproduct of a nuclear reactor.
The film moves on to an assembly line in a bomb factory in Rocky Flats, Colorado, then to Marlene Batley's two daughters playing in the dirt a few miles away. The soil there, the narrator says, has been contaminated by plutonium released from the bombery, and we are told that the cancer rate in one nearby neighborhood is 20 times the national average. There are "atomic biographies" of living victims, some with brain cancer, another with leukemia and another who lost a child to bone cancer. And a survivor of Nagasaki shows his scars, both physical and emotional.
Spliced with the biographies is archival footage, some of which has never been shown publicly before, including a gruesome test in which 700 squealing and screaming pigs in military uniforms are subjected to the blast, heat and radiation of a nuclear bomb.
"Dark Circle's" makers do lighten up now and again. "We bring good things to life," as the General Electric slogan goes, becomes a grim joke in the hands of Beaver, Irving and Landy as they bring to light the names of those companies and colleges that build bomb parts. Footage from a convention for arms buyers shows blond models hustling bombs and bullets as at any video-components show.
"Dark Circle" is a moving film, often hard to watch, but meant to say that one person can have some say about banning the bomb. DARK CIRCLE -- At the Dupont Theater.