All Classic Video - Survival Under Atomic Attack (1951) - Historic Safety Film
Survival Under Atomic Attack (1951) - Historic Safety Film
Explains the dangers of the atomic bomb, the effects of radiation and what the individual should do to protect himself if caught in the open or in his home.
Ken Smith comments: "Let us, without panic, face the reality of our times," says the authoritative, measured, resonant voice of Edward R. Murrow. That's good advice; unfortunately, this blatantly unrealistic film doesn't follow it.
The title is superimposed over a drawing of a mushroom cloud; if you look closely, you can see the tops of skyscrapers peeking out from the cloud base. This isn't a very reassuring visual, but the Office of Civil Defense somehow manages to put a positive spin on things. Murrow reminds us of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as we see footage of smiling, happy Japanese. "The majority of people exposed to radiation recovered quickly," he explains. "Today, they lead normal lives."
The real, insane message of this film -- one espoused by many Civil Defense films of the Truman years -- is that we should stay put when the bombs fall. "An enemy would like nothing better than to have us leave our cities empty and unproductive," Murrow chastises. "Our factories will be battle stations. Production must go on if we are to win." Likewise "our offices and homes will also be posts of duty, not to be deserted." And why should we run when (according to this film) staying put during a nuclear blast is so easy? We're shown one patriotic American lying in a street gutter under a newspaper, another crouched behind a stuffed chair. A flash, some broken glass, some dust is blown through a window, and that's all there is to it.
All of this is intercut with stock footage of real A-bomb blasts, which are HUGE and incredibly scary. This bouncing back and forth between reality and the Government's rosy view isn't especially reassuring, but apparently the OCD felt its audiences wouldn't notice the difference. Murrow has a great deal of advice for the I'm-staying-put homeowner. As an average family demonstrates -- moments before the bomb turns everything into a nuclear inferno -- dad puts a lid on the garbage can, sis closes the drapes, mom unplugs the iron, and everybody hides under dad's workbench with a first aid kit and a bottle of water. "Have a good flashlight on hand, " Murrow adds. "Electric lights may go out."
"If the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki had known what we know about civil defense, thousands of lives would be saved." If the Soviets had known how little we knew about civil defense, they would've nuked us.
Quick-paced, particularly for a government film. Lots of cutting. Terrific overblown musical soundtrack. Plenty of A-bomb footage. This film looks as if it had a bigger budget than most of its Civil Defense brethren.