Boasting material that was recently declassified, this documentary presents some startling material about how the United States detonated a number of atomic bombs in space during a top-secret cold war weapons program. Th... more »e history of military rockets is detailed, beginning with the Nazi V2 rockets that attacked England late in World War II. The problems encountered in the America's cold war rocketry program is dramatically illustrated with a film montage of U.S. missiles spectacularly blowing up on their launch pads. After the Soviets launched Sputnik, America's resolve to be able to wage war in space stiffened, and test detonations of atomic weapons in space began. The effects of these little-known tests were bizarre and included electromagnetic disturbances that blew fuses in Hawaii while creating beautiful, if dangerous, artificial auroras that gave the tests the nickname of the "Rainbow Bombs." Of particular interest in this documentary are tapes of White House meetings at which President John F. Kennedy and his top science and military advisers discussed the atomic tests in space. The bomb detonations caused radiation problems in space, damaging fledgling communications satellites, and the government eventually called an end to the program. This is an entertaining and very informative look at a piece of cold war history that seems like vintage science fiction, yet it's all real. --Robert J. McNamara« less
A world of historic events beautifully restored in this film
Dale Reid | Eau Claire, WI USA | 10/27/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Since I've seen Mr. Kuran's "Trinity and Beyond" I was anxious to see what restoration magic he had continued with his latest release. I wasn't disappointed. For those who don't realize it, much of the historical film of the 50's through the 70's is rapidly fading. Unique scenes that will never be re-enacted are dwindling in vaults everywhere do to time's effect on the dye used in color film. Peter Kuran is a filmmaker and documentarian with several awards to his name. He has chosen what seems like a limited-interest field to apply state of the art restoration techniques to obtain quality film to tell his story. His use of Mr. William Shatner's even-toned, non-judgemental reading of the script of this period of our nations' history, combined with the Moscow Symphony Orchestra's music is a wonderful match. Even though I've seen many of the clips shown in this film before, never have they had the clarity, color saturation or sharpness that Mr. Kuran has brought to this film. I've been aware of the work that is necessary to achieve this level of restoration, and his devotion to this film is remarkable. Tracing the history of the space race, saber rattling, and political posturing, the viewer is made aware of science and politics intermingling from a new perspective. A real concern about the damage the tests were doing to the world beyond our planet is retold by modern interviews with experts from that era. Of course the film is technically excellent, but as a true documentarian, Mr. Kuran leads us to consider the events of the time as neither evil or necessary, but just that they were a period we fortunately lived through without war. There are many new clips I've not seen elsewhere, and one brief (as is everything concerning the amazing Sprint antiballistic missile) a few seconds of this rare rocket accelerating at 100 G's! The serious collector should own this film just for the restored archival material. Those who did not live through this nerve-racking time should view the film to obtain a flavor of the tense world situation that could easily have seen the use of these weapons in anger. Sure there are a few minor problems with the production (a muted background explosion is heard as a distant German V2 rocket hits some distance away, rather than having the necessary delay in arrival of sound), but overall the filmmaker uses good judgement in not flaunting all of the videographer's toys, fades, wipes and special effects that mar other productions. My only concern is realizing that hundreds of thousands of feet of film lay slowly deteriorating, never to be subjected to Mr. Kuran's magical process of restoration. Perhaps archivists and historians in charge of rare material will approach Visual Concepts to ask for their help in preserving this unreplacable film."
Good, but not as great as other Kuran films
Jason N. Mical | Bellevue, WA, USA | 02/16/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I bought Trinity and Beyond mostly based on customer suggestion, and liked it so much that I purchased the follow-up, Atomic Journeys. Both of these movies are awesome; for full information, read my reviews. For some reason, Nukes in Space lagged a little bit.Nukes in Space is certainly a (slightly) more serious film: there isn't as much footage of nuclear explosions, and there is more interview footage in this movie - Kuran presents the facts regarding America's detonation of nuclear devices in the upper atmosphere in his usual, non-judgemental way. Viewers will agree, however, that Nukes in Space just doesn't move at the same speed at the other films; it's slower, and a little less exciting. Perhaps that is because we've become desensitized a bit to the horror of nuclear detonations through his other movies?It is great that Kuran is preserving footage of these detonations, and doing it in a way that is entertaining and educational. I think, however, that VCE studios is beginning to produce films that are geared more for the nuke-oriented audience rather than the wider, documentary (information)-based audience. Yes, what you will see here is terrible. Yes, it is almost funny, if it weren't true. But, the effect was achieved - almost with better results - in Trinity and Atomic Journeys.DVD dirt -Expect the same level of greatness as in the other Kuran DVDs. There is a full-length director's commentary (not mentioned), and the footage and sound transfered probably a well as they could. Watch for those nuclear blasts to give your subwoofers a good workout. The soundtrack, as usual, is killer, and there are plenty of extra features of different nuclear detonations / Kennedy speeches / newsreel footage to keep interest going for another hour at least. One more thing - Look for The Atomic Filmmakers and Nuclear 911 - Kuran's latest efforts - on DVD in the next few months."
A History of Missile/Anti-missile Systems
Roy Pettis | Springfield, VA USA | 04/20/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As expected, this flim does cover the high-altitude explosions like Argus and Starfish. I thought the picture works well on a TV screen, and the footage is suitably presented. It puts the tests in their proper context, and gives credit to the people who did it. However, the movie was more of a history of ICBMs and (towards the end) ABM systems than a focus on high-altitude nuclear bursts. That is the right context to put the programs into, but I was surprised at what a nice documentary it is of the Missile races of the 1950s/60s. That story has not been very well told, and is one of the great technical achievedments of history. Even if it now seems a little mad, it's impressive what people did in such a short time. I would recommend this for anyone interested in the history of the time, or in the development of ballistic missiles. I wish it could be required watching for new teams working on BMD."
More about Space Race than Nukes
Jeff Ballein | SF Bay Area | 04/08/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is more about the Space Race than nuclear testing. Of course, the Space Race was driven primarily by the threat of nuclear weapons. It's a very well done and enjoyable documentary of ICBM (Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile) development culminating in the high-altitude nuclear weapons affects tests of the Dominic/Fishbowl test series. There are not many thermonuclear explosions in this video--but there sure are a lot of rocket failure explosions. This movie also highlights the Cuban Missile Crisis as well as documenting the anti-ballistic missile tests. I highly recommend this movie to anyone interested in the development of the Space Race or the Cold War. It's tastefully done and depicts the tension that was in the world's two superpowers"
It's only so-so
Uh-Clem | 12/05/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This video is not nearly as entertaining as "Trinity and Beyond". The so-called "rainbow bombs" do not figure prominently and when they are seen, they are less than spectacular. Most of this video seems to focus more on the world situation at the time these tests were being conducted than on the actual tests themselves. A great deal of the extras on the disc are about JFK and the cuban missile crisis. As one reviewer mentioned, there seem to be just as many rockets blowing on the launch pad as there are explosions in space. Even tho I felt the title was a bit misleading, it is interesting."