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Into Eternity

video
2010
Distributed by The Video Project, PO Box 411376, San Francisco, CA 94141-1376; 800-475-2638
Produced by Lise Lense-Møller
Directed by Michael Madsen
DVD , color, 75 min., with edited 58 min. version
Sr. High - General Adult
Science, Environmental Studies, Physics, Technology, Ethics


Reviewed by Tom Ipri, Drexel University

Highly Recommended  Highly Recommended    ALA
 
Date Entered: 4/24/2012

Into Eternity is a fascinating and eerie documentary about Onkalo, an under-construction Finnish underground storage facility for nuclear waste which raises the disturbing question of how to protect volatile compounds that will last for 100,000 years. As the film points out, nothing made by humans has lasted a tenth of that time. Political, economic and geologic conditions would most likely change in that time period.

Michael Madsen’s film raises difficult scientific, ethical and philosophical questions about the decision to invest in a technology that produces potentially destructive waste that will linger deep underground for 3,000 generations. Much to its credit, the film does not shy away from the tough questions. How will we hand down important information throughout all those generations? How will we make clear the deadly power of the facility’s contents to a world whose language may look nothing like any we encounter currently? Should we even warn future generations or bury the waste and hope it gets forgotten? Given current energy crises, how can we avoid creating more and more dangerous by-products? How can humans be so vain to think they can safeguard something so deep into the future?

Madsen presents this scenario in a dramatic fashion. Often illuminating the scene by a single match, he speaks directly to the audience as if he were someone from 100,000 years hence. Much of the footage consists of austere shots of the natural habitat around Onkalo and lingering shots of the futuristic looking construction equipment. These techniques lend the film a more contemplative feel than many environmental films. These shots are balanced with interviews from members of the Onkalo team, members of various safety organizations, and even a professor from the Theology National Council for Nuclear Waste. The interviewees and their comments are well-selected as most sense the gravitas of the situation and don’t take these concerns lightly.

Some viewers might find the deliberately contemplative pace a little taxing, but the patient viewer will be well-rewarded. This film is not for the faint of heart. It is a truly disturbing film on many levels.

Awards

  • Wild & Scenic Film Festival, January 2012, California, USA: Best of Festival
  • FilmAmbiente, International Environmental Film Festival, November 2011, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Best International Feature Film
  • Baikal International Festival of Documentary, October 2011, Irkutsk, Russia, Grand Prix
  • FIFE, Paris, France, November 2010, Grand Prix