Trinity and Beyond: The Atomic Bomb Movie
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Index 37 reviews in total 

36 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

You must watch this film at least once.

Author: NetHead-2 from Oklahoma City
2 April 1999

This is an incredible film documenting the American nuclear weapons development program, from its first stages to the end of atmospheric testing in the early 1960's. The music is haunting, and the film of the nuclear explosions will leave you spellbound. You reach the end of the film haunted by the power of the nuclear devices, yet you want to see more. This movie is a "must-see". Everyone in the whole world should watch it at least once, and understand the power we have unlocked in the nucleus of the atom. Fortunately this film doesn't attempt to put a political spin on the use or development of nuclear weapons, but seems to document them very objectively. The viewer is left to determine whether or not the nuclear arms race was worth it.

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29 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

A fascinating and visually stunning history piece

Author: Surecure from Canada
3 November 2003

This ranks as one of my all time favourite documentaries. Trinity and Beyond's wealth of information is only overshadowed by its visually stunning presentation. Beautifully crafted, this film is not only an informative documentary, but truly is a work of art. It is perfect in every regards, from the laborious undertaking of restoring all of the test footage, to the insightful presentation of interviews, to the excellent choice of William Shatner as narrator (something he has a true talent for), to the beautiful musical score. I have absolutely no trouble recommending this film to anybody.

Reading over the negative reviews in this forum, I think that many people who dislike it have missed the point. Sure, we have all seen images of buildings being blown over and vehicles destroyed, but never before has it been presented in such a comprehensive manner and in such a way as we see the actual progress of nuclear weapons.

Watching this film, you see the development of nuclear weapons in a way where you can finally get a grasp on exactly how powerful the explosions are. Watching the first Kilotonne detonation of TNT, and then following the testing of every device from that point on, this is the most comprehensive view of exactly how far along nuclear weapons have come. Showing a 10 Kilotonne explosion followed by a 10 Megatonne is not nearly as impressive or understandable in terms of perception as when you see every step along the way as well.

This is a must-see, not only for anybody who wants an understanding of what nuclear weapons are truly capable of, but for anybody who appreciates beautiful film-making.

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25 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Money well spent--A terrific documentary

Author: anonymous from Ft walton Beach, FL
8 December 1998

A superbly written and well-produced documentary on the history of American nuclear weapons. Impressive for the quality of archival color footage, William Shatner's competent narration, and the film's haunting musical score. Chronicles nearly every U.S. nuclear test program, from Trinity to the end of atmospheric testing in the late 50s. Also includes footage of the Soviet's 50-megaton "super bomb".

Trinity and Beyond carefully avoids overwhelming you with meaningless dialogue. Instead, Shatner introduces each chapter sparingly, then allows you to sit back and absorb the spectacle of the explosions while listening to the score. The result is a perfect blend of sight, sound, and historical background. Overall, a terrific documentary and a definite must-buy for the history buff in your family.

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14 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

It may blow you away.

Author: RNeary from Massachusetts
13 May 1999

From its first sequence of workers stacking cartons of TNT for a rehearsal blast at Trinity Site, to its last image of Chinese cavalry galloping into a mushroom cloud (the horses wearing gas masks), TRINITY AND BEYOND is a visually arresting film.

The picture documents the full scope of American nuclear testing from 1945 to 1963. Sand is fused into glass in New Mexico; islands are literally blown off the map in the South Pacific; a test in space blacks out Honolulu radio. In one nightmarish highlight, a bomb-laden Thor rocket catches fire and explodes on the launch pad. The warhead goes shooting off like a roman candle.

The film makes an interesting bookend to THE ATOMIC CAFE (1982), covering parallel ground, but apolitically, in contrast to the earlier picture's deadpan subversiveness. A key element is the carefully noncommittal narration by William Shatner. It's impossible to know what Shatner thinks about the events he's describing. (Though his direction of STAR TREK V demonstrates that Shatner is something of an expert on bombs.)

On the debit side, the movie feels a few minutes too long, and its Wrath of God musical score, while formidable in small doses, palls a bit as it goes on.

In its wedding of immaculate, surreal visuals with portentious music, TRINITY AND BEYOND oddly reminded me of the New Age films of Ron Fricke - it's like a KOYAANISQATSI for hawks. Sometimes, especially during a few brief shots of domestic animals being locked into cages close to Ground Zero, it makes you want to take a mental bath, at the mixture of intellect and human destructiveness on display. Nonetheless, it's a powerful, intelligent movie that lingers in the memory, and turns a valuable lens on 50's America and the Cold War.

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26 out of 43 people found the following review useful:

Some serious omissions

Author: Peter (fineanimal) from San Diego, California
29 July 2002

This is definitely a film worth watching, although it's "objectivity" suffers from some rather serious omissions.

"Trinity and Beyond" offers a decent summary of the history of human flirtation with the power of nuclear weapons. One comes away from the film with two main impressions: 1) (for older viewers) a renewed gratitude that we never witnessed a full-scale nuclear war, and 2) amazement at the utterly childlike and naive way in which governments developed and tested nuclear weapons, with almost no responsible consideration of potential consequences for human beings. Everything was done for the sake of protecting and preserving abstract institutions--nations, governments and the like--with no meaningful concern for the human beings who comprise those institutions.

However, if "Trinity and Beyond" was intended to make us really think about the consequences of flirting with the atom, it failed on several counts:

1) The real devastation wrought by the United States upon human beings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was never shown. Not even one image of a silhouette on a Japanese building caused by an incinerated human was shown. There were no images of Japanese zombies walking through the rubble in shock with their flesh blown clear off their bodies. No images of children with their eyeballs hanging out of their sockets. Almost all of the film footage is presented from a safe, sterile distance, much like bomber pilots must witness while delivering so much death. This incomprehensible omission alone constitutes a default endorsement of nuclear weapons development and testing, and challenges any claim that "Trinity and Beyond" is an objective film.

2) There is no meaningful mention of the US government's use of American citizens as virtual guinea pigs, as far as the effects of radiation are concerned. Apart from mentioning that a small boat had once entered a testing area during a test, no mention was made of the blatant disregard governments showed for their own soldiers and citizens while studying the effects of nuclear blasts and subsequent fallout.

3) Much is made of footage of nuclear explosions in space without a single mention of what could have happened if a rocket had accidentally gone off-course into a populated area instead. Even stunning footage of a rocket exploding on the launch pad fails to mention whether or not a nuclear weapon was on board that rocket.

Furthermore, the ending was visually terrifying, yet without narrative explanation it fails to make any specific point. It does, however, tend to demonize a certain country, which again challenges all claims to objectivity.

Overall, "Trinity and Beyond" offers a striking visual experience, especially for people who experienced life during the Cold War. Unfortunately, this film is one of the least-thought provoking documentaries I have ever seen, and that is a crying shame given the extraordinarily serious subject under consideration.

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14 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Prepare to be horrified...

Author: Paul Lindgren from Huntsville, Alabama (U.S.A.)
22 December 2004

This film would have been nothing were it not for the outstanding scoring by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra. The music amplifies the horror, the bizarre and grotesque beauty, the grandiose irony of this film and its subject. Shatner's fact-like voice is like monochrome, and never distracts from the subject with character. It is a purposefully amoral film to good effect. Without stretching far beyond the immediate implications of a nuclear blast, and by staying devoid of ideology, we are left with the terrible phenomenon itself - the atomic blast.

To me, this was a real horror movie... sitting paralyzed, bug eyed, shocked, mouth agape and all that, complete with surround sound and weighty, ponderous Russian orchestrations in grotesque minor keys. You pray to God they make presidents watch films like these.

I also thought the ending "However..." sequence was perfect. To say that weapons find rest in the hands of fools becomes a truly shocking understatement when you see the sheer unhinged lunacy of the final scene.

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10 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Is it documentary or is it art?

Author: Richard De Marco ( from Toronto, Canada
29 June 1999

A fantastic film - the only documentary I've seen that could double as an art film. As other reviewers have mentioned, there is minimal narration and few interviews, making this more of a mood piece than a straight, 'just the facts' kind of film experience. And an original score to boot! Something special, to be sure.

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9 out of 14 people found the following review useful:


Author: johnmcrep from Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
16 August 2004

This is the scientific version of "Threads" and has much more drama. William Shatner's low and 'Star Trek' warm monotone narration combined with earth shattering images provide this movie with entertainment that you just want to watch over and over again. The 3D section is excellent, especially if your watching it in Dolby pro-logic and on DVD. The most interesting moment for me personally is where the news reporters are at the test site and you can see every emotion in their faces just before the bomb goes off. The device detonates and we are shown the images of a house imploding and cars and buses being hurtled into the air and disintegrating upon impact with the heat blast. Pure quality. Put it this way, choice between "Threads" and "Trinity"? Trinity will always come first because what's portrayed is fact, not fiction.

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10 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Shocking & fascinating

Author: thefan-2 from Detroit
29 April 1999

This is a documentary about nuclear and thermonuclear weapons. It has interviews with key players from the 1940s and 1950s, including Edward Teller, and footage of dozens of tests. For someone like me who grew up in the shadow of these things, the explosions are eerily fascinating. A huge dome of fire expands in every direction and then dissipates to reveal a core of impossibly intense light that rises and becomes a roiling torus of ordinary fire surrounded by clouds. Then the shock wave comes at you, quite visible and moving very quickly, here it comes, here it comes -- and everything is blown to bits. The violence of these things still has the ability to shock. An ordinary school bus, very much like the one that picks up my kids every morning, suddenly starts smoking and then bursts into flames, and a few seconds later an invisible baseball bat wielded by an invisible giant whacks it broadside, caving in one whole side, and knocking it over and sending it sliding. There's footage of an atomic cannon firing a shell at a distant target which, after maybe ten seconds, is obliterated in a 10 kiloton explosion. There's footage of explosions in space, 50+ miles up: pure globes of fire, sans mushroom cloud. There are air blasts that bash in and then suck up cubic miles of land; and underwater explosions, captured by robot cameras and microphones inside robot submarines. One thing that seems so obvious now is that the scientific and military value of many of these tests (apart from scaring the bejeezus out of everyone) was nil. It was more like a bunch of boys blowing up toilet bowls with M80s. "What happens if we pen a dozen pigs 1000 feet from ground zero?" "What happens if we set one off under the water right next to a submarine?" Narrated by William Shatner. Highly recommended. Personally, I don't think we've seen the end of these things.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Powerful, Visually Rich Footage of Man's Greatest Weapon Taking its Baby Steps

Author: Sean Lamberger from Bradenton, FL
1 May 2012

William Shatner narrates a running tally of almost every nuclear weapons test run by the United States in the atomic age, from the 1945 breakthrough "Trinity" to 1963's "Nike Hercules" air defense missile. Almost as fascinating as the constant barrage of blooming orange mushroom clouds on the screen is the realization of just how recklessly fascinated our leaders actually were with this technology. It's a boys' world (or, at least, it was at the time) and so it's not entirely surprising that the men at the top of the food chain would want the biggest toy in the yard to parade around with. Still, it's tough to imagine anyone - even a selfish little brat - being so carefree with such volatile powers. The process almost parodies itself; when the US woefully underestimated the strength of "Castle," a blast twice as powerful as expected that accidentally irradiated sailors and villagers alike, they barely stopped to brush themselves off before launching additional blasts below the surface of the ocean, deep under the ground and in the upper reaches of the atmosphere. The latter of which, inadvertently, introduced us to the far-reaching powers of an EMP. The historical footage dug up for this documentary is riveting and amazing, fantastic fodder for fireball-lovers, but I couldn't stop wondering how we got through it all in one piece. These guys only thought they knew what they were doing, or had at best a vague idea, and in a lot of ways that's worse than just lighting the fuse and standing around with a clipboard and a pair of safety goggles.

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