It starts with a live radio broadcast from the Bikini Atoll a few days before it is annihilated by a nuclear test. Shows great footage from these times and tells the story of the US Navy ... See full summary »



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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »


Episode credited cast:
Kilon Bauno ...
Himself - Chief of the Bikinians
John Smitherman ...
Himself - Veteran of nuclear weapons tests at Bikini Atoll in 1946
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Warren Austin ...
Himself - US Delegate to UN (archive footage)
Bernard Baruch ...
Himself (archive footage)
W.H.P. Blandy ...
Himself (archive footage) (as Vice Admiral William H.P. Blandy)
Himself - Concerned About Bikini Test (archive footage)
James Forrestal ...
Himself (archive footage)
Vyacheslav Molotov ...
Himself (archive footage)
Woodrow P. Swancutt ...
Himself (archive footage) (as Woodrow Swancutt)
Harry S. Truman ...
Himself (archive footage)
Harold Urey ...
Himself - Concerned About Bikini Test (archive footage)
Lee Van Atta ...
Himself - Radio Reporter (voice) (archive sound)


It starts with a live radio broadcast from the Bikini Atoll a few days before it is annihilated by a nuclear test. Shows great footage from these times and tells the story of the US Navy Sailors who were exposed to radioactive fallout. One interviewed sailor suffered grotesquely swollen limbs and he is shown being interviewed with enormous left arm and hand. Written by <anon@anon.anon>

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Release Date:

10 June 1988 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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References Gilda (1946) See more »


Marshallese Song
by Skate Im Laa
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User Reviews

A Superb But Very Sombre Documentary
1 August 2013 | by (Durham Region, Ontario, Canada) – See all my reviews

This is a superb documentary and a very sombre film perhaps to be expected from the subject matter. With World War II over, the United States now engages in peaceful testing of atomic bombs, and the film documents the first of the post-War tests, on Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific. The tests were probably inevitable. Once the genie had been let out of the bottle with Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it wasn't going to be stuffed back in. After watching this, you do perhaps wish it had been though.

You're first disturbed at the uprooting of the inhabitants of Bikini. They have nothing to do with this; they had nothing to do with the recently ended war; they want to be left alone. But the US military forces them off Bikini, because for whatever reason, Bikini is deemed the perfect place to do ongoing atomic testing. You can't help but feel sorry for these people. There are the shots of animals being chained to poles on derelict ships around Bikini Atoll, in preparation for the dropping of the bomb, just to see what will happen to them. I found quite haunting the words of the narrator on a newsreel from the time as the plane carrying the bomb approaches Bikini, "these animals are about to draw their last breaths in the service of humanity." And then there are the American sailors on board the ships that are conducting the testing. They're given no protective clothing. After the second (underwater) test radioactive water is brought into the ships for them to drink and shower in. Was this just ignorance - or were the sailors themselves being used as guinea pigs - as unknowingly as the animals who had just been incinerated? And, of course, there was John Smitherman - a veteran of the tests, who had lost both legs over the years as they had swelled up and eventually burst open, and whose left hand was now swollen and barely recognizable as a hand - a victim of the radiation. Sombre, indeed.

As backdrop, there's some of the diplomatic manoeuvring going on, as the United States wants to share this with the world, and the Soviet Union says it has no interest in the bomb. A truly superb documentary. (8/10)

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