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Happy Savages

By Robert C. Koehler

“Thirty seconds to zero . . . six, five, four, three, two, one.”

Suddenly a big orange blossom fills the screen, accompanied by ukuleles and lovely — I mean Strangelovian — Polynesian music. The blossom is actually Castle Bravo, a 15-megaton hydrogen bomb blast, the largest U.S. test ever, detonated over Bikini Atoll on March 1, 1954.

This is a few minutes into Nuclear Savage: The Island Experiments of Secret Project 4.1, one of the most disturbing documentaries I’ve ever seen, and one of seven feature-length films that are part of Chicago’s fourth annual Peace on Earth Film Festival, Feb. 23-26, at the Chicago Cultural Center. The event, once again, is free of charge.

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