7.4/10
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The China Syndrome (1979)

A reporter finds what appears to be a cover-up of safety hazards at a nuclear power plant.

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ON DISC
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Peter Donat ...
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Daniel Valdez ...
Stan Bohrman ...
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Michael Alaimo ...
Donald Hotton ...
Khalilah Ali ...
Paul Larson ...
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Storyline

While doing a series of reports on alternative energy sources, an opportunistic reporter Kimberly Wells witnesses an accident at a nuclear power plant. Wells is determined to publicise the incident but soon finds herself entangled in a sinister conspiracy to keep the full impact of the incident a secret. Written by Dave Jenkins <david.jenkins@smallworld.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

People who know the meaning of "The China Syndrome" are scared. Soon _you_ will know. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

16 March 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El síndrome de China  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director and co-writer James Bridges offered a provocative metaphor about the picture: "An electronic personality and the technician who records her image encounter the man who supplies the electricity. Where the power lies is something they are all surprised to discover". See more »

Goofs

After Jack exits the freeway, his pursuers swerve off through the median; a black platform can be seen to give their vehicle a ramp for getting over the curb of the roadway. See more »

Quotes

Ted Spindler: He was not a loony. He was the sanest man I ever knew in my life.
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Crazy Credits

The end credits run in total silence. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Murphy's Romance (1985) See more »

Soundtracks

Somewhere In Between
by Stephen Bishop
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Still Relevant After (Nearly) 25 Years
2 September 2003 | by (Georgia, USA) – See all my reviews

This is *not* a great film about nuclear power. It plays too fast and loose with reality for that--especially in a cringe-inducing scene where two scientists describe the consequences of a reactor accident. The catastrophic damage they describe is (even opponents of nuclear power would agree) a worst-case scenario, not the inevitable result of a breakdown in the reactor cooling system. Three-Mile Island suffered such a breakdown, and the surrounding "area the size of Pennsylvania" remained habitable.

That said, this *is* a great (and surprisingly subtle) film about complex technological systems, how they fail, and how the organizations that manage them go awry. Subtle? Well: 1) Jack Godell, the whiste-blowing hero, is a flawed and self-doubting normal human being rather than a crusader in shining armor; 2) His co-workers at the plant (as opposed to the "suits" they work for) are sympathetic working-class guys who gripe (as does everybody now and then) about burdensome government regulations and the clueless public; 3) The flaws in the plant are subtle, not glaring. The film, in other words, plays a lot fairer than you'd expect given its reputation (and pedigree).

Does this film have a definite whiff of late-70s, post-Watergate America about it? Sure. Does it have a political edge? Yes. For all that, though, it's still (sadly) relevant--our technology, and the people who are supposed to make it work, still fail us. See the movie, then skim the recent (August 2003) report on the Columbia disaster; the more things change. . .


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Jack's testimony at the first hearing mdgross50
Does anyone know the actual location of the powerplant? ajtaylor82
Nuclear safety Rammu
Any Other Nukes Seen This Movie? tspencer227
Karl Grossman says NRC knew chances of core meltdown in US within 20yrs mickeyone
HELP !!!!!!!!!!! unfabulous36
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