Distributor:  Bullfrog Films
Length:  72 minutes
Date:  2001
Genre:  Expository
Language:  English
Grade level: Grades 9-12, College, Adult
Color/BW:  Color
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Nuclear Dynamite

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Investigates American and Soviet plans to use nuclear explosives for 'geographical engineering.'

Nuclear Dynamite

In the 1950s, Edward Teller, the co-inventor of the H-bomb, proposed using 'the great and violent power' of the atom bomb for peaceful purposes. NUCLEAR DYNAMITE explores the Soviet-American race to develop nuclear explosives for gigantic megaprojects.

Scientists planned to harness the power of the bomb to launch huge spaceships, dig an instant harbor in Alaska, blast out oil and gas deposits, cut through mountain ranges, and dig a new Panama canal with 300 explosions.

More than 150 nuclear blasts were carried out between 1958 and 1988 before this bizarre and extraordinary atomic dream was destroyed by the emergence of the environmental movements in both countries.

'Absorbing docu digs up declassified footage to explore a threat that ran quietly alongside the Cold War weapons race. The expertly assembled Nuclear Dynamite looks back on 30 years, now almost forgotten, in which the U.S. and the Soviet Union competed to find the most dramatic peacetime use of atomic explosions.' Variety

'Using priceless old footage and modern-day interviews, filmmaker Gary Marcuse reconstructs this anything-goes attitude scientists and governments adopted toward health risks.' Marke Andrews, The Vancouver Sun

'Important and timely, Nuclear Dynamite recalls a fast-fading epoch of the world's nuclear history. Together with the documentary Atomic Cafe, on the government propaganda and popular culture of the early nuclear age, and such commercial films as The Day the Earth Stood Still, On the Beach, and Dr. Strangelove, it would wonderfully enrich courses on postwar America or on the nuclear era...Highly recommended.' The Journal of American History

'Nuclear Dynamite is like the bomb itself, both horrifying and immensely interesting...(It's) humourous, suspenseful and makes a good argument for testing the effects of new technology before experimenting with it on a major scale...As a good documentary should, it allows the interviewees to speak for themselves, and leaves the audience to decide if they agree.' Spencer Herbert, The Peak

'Documentary filmmaker Gary Marcuse combines science and history as he revisits the era of 'peaceful nuclear explosives,' and how it led to the stirrings of the environmental movement that forced governments to ban nuclear testing.' Fiona Hughes, The Vancouver Courier


Chris Award, History Category, Columbus International Film and Video Festival
Gold Dragon, Best Environmental Film, Beijing International Scientific Film Festival
Gold Remi Award, History, Houston International Film and Television Festival
Silver Certificate, Prix Leonardo Medical and Scientific Film Festival, Parma, Italy
Silver Plaque, Chicago International Television Competition
Honorable Mention, Millennium Scientific Film Festival, Hungary
Finalist, British Columbia Leo Awards
Vancouver International Film Festival
Hawaii International Film Festival
Hazel Wolf Environmental Film Festival
Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival
Cornell Environmental Film Festival
Edmonton Global Visions Film Festival
Durango International Film Festival
Alaska Green Party Convention
Festival Olommouc, Czech Republic
Global Visions Film Festival


Main credits

Marcuse, Gary (screenwriter)
Marcuse, Gary (film director)
Marcuse, Gary (film producer)
Carson, Betsy (film producer)
Suzuki, David T. (narrator)

Other credits

Director of photography, Kirk Tougas; editor, Stuart de Jong; original music composed by Henry Heillig.

Distributor credits

Gary Marcuse and Betsy Carson

Gary Marcuse

Gary Marcuse and Betsy Carson
Gary Marcuse
Narrated by David Suzuki
Produced by Face to Face Media and the National Film Board of Canada, and in association with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Docuseek2 subjects

History of Science
The 1950s and the Cold War
Nuclear Issues
American Studies
American (U.S.) Studies
Global / International Studies
International Relations and Geopolitics
Slavic Studies
Social Aspects
War and Peace

Distributor subjects

American Studies
Environmental Ethics
Global Issues
International Studies
Nuclear Energy
Physical Science
Russian/Slavic Studies
Science, Technology, Society
War and Peace


Edward Teller, nuclear testing, dynamite, hydrogen bomb, cold war, atom bomb, geographical engineering; "Nuclear Dynamite"; Bullfrog Films

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