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Countdown to Zero (3 stars)

Documentary highlights the problems with nuclear weapons, but proposes no solutions

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Documentary Countdown to Zero highlights the problems with nuclear weapons, but proposes no solutions

(12A) 91min

Following the success of last year’s Oscar-nominated Waste Land, British filmmaker Lucy Walker returns with a persuasive argument for nuclear disarmament in her latest documentary, Countdown to Zero.

Featuring a range of high-profile talking heads, including Tony Blair, Jimmy Carter and Mikhail Gorbachev, the film recalls terrifying accounts in recent history when the world was seconds away from nuclear war. Most memorable is the story of an incident where the Russian government mistakenly believed they were under nuclear attack and Yeltsin was given orders to deploy the country’s own arms in retaliation. He questioned the instruction and nuclear war was averted, but only just.

Countdown to Zero is fast-paced and absorbing, proving that Walker knows exactly how to draw her audience in. Yet at times the documentary veers worryingly close to fear-mongering. Walker paints a doomsday scenario, one that suggests nuclear war is all but inevitable, but while the film makes clear that it believes the only solution is global nuclear disarmament, it offers not nearly enough (or entirely convincing) suggestions as to how that might be achieved (or if it could ever be possible). The effect is to ultimately leave you feeling convinced by Walker’s argument, yet also powerless to do anything about it.

Selected release from Fri 24 Jun.

Countdown to Zero

  • 3 stars
  • 2010
  • US
  • E
  • Directed by: Lucy Walker
  • Cast: Various

Featuring a range of high profile talking heads, this fast-paced and absorbing polemic against nuclear armament recalls terrifying moments in recent history when the world was seconds away from nuclear war. At times though, it veers worryingly close to fear-mongering.

Elsewhere on the web

Countdown to Zero Trailer

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