February 5, 2011
If you’re looking for an off-beat distraction to escape Super Bowl madness, you can take a jaunt over to New York City this weekend for the debut of Into Eternity – a new film by Danish Producer Michael Madsen.
The movie is not to be confused, however, with a sequel to the James Jones novel inspired classic – From Here to Eternity – the 1950s Oscar blockbuster with an all-star cast including fan favorites Burt Lancaster, Deborah Kerr, Montgomery Cliff, Frank Sinatra and Ernest Borgnine.
From Here to Eternity was loosely based on a roll-on-the-beach with Lancaster and Kerr in the context of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Into Eternity is a documentary focused six thousand miles away in some 2,700 million-year old granite near the Olkiluoto Nuclear Power Plant in the underground bunker of the Onkalo project – soon to be the national repository for Finnish spent fuel and probably the first fully successful nuclear disposal campaign in the world.
According to at least one review, the always objective NPR, which we’ll take at face value, the movie is not anti-nuclear. Its overriding preoccupation is life after Onkalo and its three miles of tunnels are sealed permanently a century and a half from now along with the conclusion that there may eventually be many more companion “crypts” around the globe
“The conceptual aspects of the project clearly fascinate Madsen. Into Eternity doesn’t take a position on nuclear power, and it expresses no outrage that humans have created byproducts that will be so dangerous for so long. Scientists discuss the risks and acknowledge that Onkalo won’t contain even all of Finland’s nuke waste — to say nothing of any other country’s. What animates the film is the otherworldliness of the under-construction project and the paradoxes the finished Onkalo will embody.”
As NPR crystallizes it:
“But because the time frame is so long — far longer than recorded human history — these problems become philosophical, even mystical.”
There are at least a few take-aways from this and other reviews to date:
- The Fins must be making real progress toward consummating its national repository program if someone is premiering a film in New York about the project. In stark contrast, no movie on Yucca Mountain appears on the scope, although Nightmare at White Flint could well make it to the theaters by Halloween.
- Into Eternity sounds a lot more promising than the last loosely related Yucca movie – The Beast of Yucca Flats – a 1961 thriller that perennially ranks as one of the 100 worst films of all time. While we don’t want to spoil the plot, it is premised on a Soviet scientist who defects and is then morphed into a “hulking monster” by an atom bomb test in the Nevada desert. According to www.imdb.com, there’s “not much else except some people are killed, boys get lost, and a rabbit sniffs [the scientist’s] corpse."
- The Fins get high marks for transparency. The repository project’s name – Onkalo – is the Finnish word for “hiding place.”
- In case you don’t like subtitles, not to worry. NPR assures us that all of the Fins “speak good English, although there are subtitles, just in case.”
But since NPR has actually seen the film, we’ll give them the final word:
“Some viewers may be put off by Madsen’s artiness or by the film’s solemnity. Yet Into Eternity and its subject justify the tone. After all, if Onkalo succeeds, it will become the longest-lasting product of contemporary civilization — which it might very well outlive.”
For more, the NPR story is here.