Peter Kuran’s 1995 documentary about the United States’ above-ground nuclear weapons testing program shows us a lot of good footage on nuclear tests. In slow motion. In full color. In all their horrifying beauty. And that’s pretty much the point of the film. It avoids any kind of political discussion. William Shatner narrates which is a bit distracting but not inappropriate. The big aggressive score performed by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra is a bit more problematic. There are a couple of interviews, including with Edward Teller. There is a single talking head who gives some technical information about the various programs and detonations. But mostly we are watching the creation of a new nature essentially, one of extreme destruction yet one that is certainly beautiful and awe-inspiring in its own way. Yet the lack of much context does hurt the film. We know at the end that people are worried about nuclear pollution and that helps lead to the end of the above-ground testing program but we don’t get enough a sense of why people are concerned. I don’t need a political film here per se or an ironic film like Atomic Cafe, but I do think this film gains more value with a few less pictures of detonations and a little more context.