Communism: The Promise and the Reality (1995) PBS

Episode 2: Fallout (1942-1987)

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Video Description


Fallout (1942-1987)

Nuclear energy is unleashed



"After the bomb had gone off, I lay on my stomach, unable to move, for a year and nine months, waiting for my wounds to heal. . . . Nobody thought I would survive."

-- Sumiteru Taniguchi, Japan



The atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki marked the end of World War II -- and heralded the beginning of the atomic age. Fearful of the United States's new power, Joseph Stalin set out to acquire the Bomb at any cost. By 1949, the Soviets had what they wanted and the atomic race had begun in earnest. The US military began the practice of test blasts, with the Army and Marine Corps competing to see how close they could get their men to ground zero. And the Atomic Energy Commission assured the public that fallout from nuclear testing was quite safe.



The US developed the vastly more powerful hydrogen bomb soon after -- and the Soviets followed suit a year later. As both sides built more warheads, each realized that they now had the ability to destroy the other -- retaliation was guaranteed. As both superpowers prepared for Armageddon, citizens of the Soviet Union, Western Europe, and the US lived in a heightened state of nuclear terror and governments scrambled to make preparations for doomsday.



Still, the peaceful potential of nuclear energy was held out as the hope of the future, offering cheap, clean, and unlimited energy. But early optimism and enthusiasm evaporated as the dangers of radiation and nuclear accidents became evident. In 1954, Japanese fishermen on the Lucky Dragon were hospitalized with radiation sickness after being exposed to fallout from a US bomb test in the Pacific. Victims from Hiroshima and Nagasaki stepped forward after decades of silence to recount their sickness and suffering. The near-disaster at Three Mile Island in 1979 put a halt to the American nuclear power program, and the 1986 explosion at Chernobyl exposed 600,000 people to lethal radiation.



While many governments ignored widespread popular challenges to nuclear energy programs, many leaders began to weigh the growing costs of dependence on nuclear energy.



The people remember: Atomic bomb, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, nuclear testing, protest movements, H-bomb, arms race, effects of radiation poisoning, Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), Arms Reduction Treaty (Reagan/Gorbachev), Chernobyl.



Fallout is produced and directed by Charles Furneaux. Series senior producer is David Espar. Series executive producer for WGBH Boston is Zvi Dor-Ner; Peter Pagnamenta is executive producer for the BBC.



Alfre Woodard narrates.



Source: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/peoplescentury/episodes/fallout/description.html

Documentary Description


Communism: The Promise and the Reality Set



Communism--the extraordinary social experiment promising equality and freedom which swept from Russia around the world. In the early days, hopes were high, but in the end the story of Communism is on of grim realities. Listen as people from behind the Iron Curtain tell how their lives were affected by this new world order--from the storming of the Winter Palace in Tzarist Russia in 1917 to the swift implosion of communist regimes around the world in the 1980's.



* Red Flag (1917-1936) Communism brings hope--and horrors--to Russia's millions. WG474

* Brave New World (1945-1962) A "cold" war embroils the U.S. and the Soviet Union in a contest of ideologies. WG475

* Fallout (1942-1987) Nuclear energy unleashes unprecedented destruction--and the hope for cheap power. WG476

* Great Leap (1949-1977) Chinese citizens zealously follow Chairman Mao's revolutionary dictums. WG477

* Guerrilla Wars (1954-1981) Revolutionaries use the power of guerrilla warfare in Cuba, Vietnam, and Afghanistan. WG478

* People Power (1980-1993) Communist rule crumbles in the Soviet Union as people find the courage to speak out. WG479




Editorial Reviews, by Amazon.com

The six videos in this boxed set provide a solid history of Communism in the 20th century, from the Russian Revolution of 1917 to the eventual collapse of the Iron Curtain in the 1980s. Extensive use is made of archival footage as well as interviews with participants in the major events, from the storming of the Winter Palace to the opening of the Berlin Wall. The major figures, including Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro, and Gorbachev, are all seen and heard, as are many ordinary people who lived through great events. The presentation is balanced, with interview subjects recalling how the standard of living was raised as well as the terrors of Stalin's purges and Mao's Cultural Revolution. The interviews can be alternately inspiring and chilling, as the people who speak before the cameras remind us that the great events in history had profound effects in the lives of everyday people. Separate tapes cover the main themes of Communism's rise in Russia, the roots of the cold war, the victory of the Communists in China, and the eventual collapse of European Communism. In addition, one video concentrates on the role of guerrilla warfare during the cold war, while another focuses on the role nuclear power played in creating a fearful standoff between the superpowers. Produced by WGBH Boston, these videos are artfully produced and their entertainment value in no way detracts from the scrupulous history being presented. --Robert J. McNamara



Product Description


Communism - the extraordinary social experiment promising equality and freedom swept from Russia around the world. In the early days hopes were high, but in the end the story of Communism is one of grim realities. Listen as people from behind the Iron Curtain tell how their lives were affected by this new world order, from the storming of the Winter Palace in Tzarist Russia in 1917 to the swift implosion of communist regimes around the world in the 1980s. Includes: Red Flag, Brave New World, Fallout, Great Leap, Guerrilla Wars, and People Power.



4 of 5 people found the following review helpful:

By Matthew Brown (New York, NY)

This is more a documentary on the evils of Communism throughout history. I was impressed by the entertainment factor; as the concentration on characters (Lenin, Stalin, i feel asleep... Mao Zedong) was compelling. I was expecting more policy discussion, as denoted by the containing of the phrase "The Promise," in the title, but there was none. I thought it would've been more interesting to go over how Communism changed by each of these characters and, in each carnation, how it failed. But this wasn't the case.



Each episode covers each era; mostly covers the evils of that era and PBS has delivered the information in a slanted and, of course, entertaining way. This series' failures out-weigh its gains... Anything seperate from the history of failures without any look at at the positives or goals of the carnations about what Communism is, was, or was supposed to be is a great failure. Although, this may be a good partner to another documentary, or just research on the goals of Communism and what each carnation of Communism was aimed to achieve, with the simple invest of time expect to be put in by, say the guy everyone hates (above) aka... average Joe, it simply is not a good source of information.



Overall, it was entertaining; but lacked true content. I wouldn't watch it again, and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who actually wanted to learn anything about Communism as an ideology. I would even be hesitant to risk recommending it to people to watch that wouldn't do research on the ideology and the goals of each carnation, as that risk of lack of information, causing misinformation, would be too high.



Searching for more info before I downloaded and invested the time to watch this series, I came across a PBS Affiliate selling it under the guise of educational, recommending it for "Grade 7+."* I truly believe that if a teacher were to present this within the constrict of public school education (non-higher level, college {aka university level for all you europeans}) would be a terrible thing; especially since the teacher would have to present this as a core of a unit on Communism simply because of it's length if not the guise of good information. I hope that any teacher would view any information that is a candidate for injection into the brains of our youth with a better set of eyes than my doomsday scenario detailed.

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