Anti-Nuke Activist Helen Caldicott Speaking at U.S. Premiere of Fallout

On the BeachBy David Robb, Hollywood Today, 2013/11/3

Australian documentary Fallout about the making of the 1950s Gregory Peck film On the Beach and book of the same name is part of the invitation-only Kat Kramer screening series, premieres on November 13th at the Sunset Gower Studios in Hollywood.

On The Beach was a pivotal event in my life, both reading the book and viewing the film by Stanley Kramer,” says Dr. Helen Caldicott. “The images of the beautiful, elegant streets of Melbourne, where I lived, bereft of life and silent, as a blind gently flapped in the breeze, indicated the end of life on earth.”

“These images never left me. I lost my teenage innocence and hope for the future and was set on my path in life to try and eliminate nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants.”

Kat Kramer’s father, Stanley Kramer, directed the 1959 film On the Beach, starring Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire and Anthony Perkins. The film, based on the book by British author Nevil Shute, is set in Australia, where the last survivors of an all-out nuclear war await theinevitable arrival of a radioactive fallout cloud that will finish off the last people on Earth. The cautionary tale alarmed moviegoers around the world.

Caldicott would become one of the world’s leading anti-nuclear activists and the subject of If You Love This Planet, a film about the dangers of nuclear weapons that won the 1983 Academy Award for Best Documentary, Short Subject. In 1978, Caldicott was teaching pediatrics at the Harvard Medical School when she re-founded the now defunct Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR). As president of the 23,000-member organization, she advocated against nuclear power and nuclear proliferation.

PSR’s umbrella organization, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985 for its “considerable service to mankind by spreading authoritative information and by creating an awareness of the catastrophic consequences of atomic warfare.”

“That’s what my father and Nevil Shute were warning us about in the 1950s,” says Kat Kramer. President Kennedy would deliver the same message to the United Nations General Assembly in 1961. “Today,” he said, “every inhabitant of this planet must contemplate the day when the planet may no longer be inhabitable.”

The same could be said today, as Nevil Shute’s daughter, Heather Mayfield, notes in Fallout. “I think my dad would be very surprised that On the Beach has lasted for 50 years,” says Mayfield, “maybe a bit disappointed that the world hasn’t learned anything.” Caldicott hopes that Fallout, by Australian filmmaker Lawrence Johnston, will help remind the world of the dangers of nuclear war.

Fallout is ever more relevant in this day and age when everyone assumes that since the Cold War ended these hideous weapons were eliminated,” says Caldicott. “What no one really understands is that thousands of hydrogen bombs remain ready to be launched with a press of a button in both Russia and the U.S., that every town in the U.S. with a population greater than 50,000 is targeted, along with all universities, factories and cities.

These two countries possess 94% of all the 20,000 nuclear weapons in the world, with France, Israel, China, Britain, India, Pakistan and North Korea owning hundreds more.” “A nuclear holocaust could happen tonight through a computer error, hackers, human error triggered by a 9/11 attack, or a nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan or elsewhere.

Such an event would effectively invoke the On the Beach scenario, destroying most planetary life,” says Caldicott. “Fallout is an imperative reminder of the ever-present danger under which we live and which most of us blithely ignore. This film must be viewed by millions of people to awaken them from their pervasive psychic numbing so that they will be empowered to act to save themselves, their children and all their descendants.”

Source: Hollywood Today

9 thoughts on “Anti-Nuke Activist Helen Caldicott Speaking at U.S. Premiere of Fallout”

  1. The poetry of politics and emotional reaction to film fiction of the fifties, I think is the deep seated basis for Helen’s lack of factual and technical accuracy of a natural force in our universe.

    Nuclear power is proven to be as safe of renewables to date unlike coal power, accounting for less than 0.000001% of coal deaths so far, workers and populations.

    Also the future of nuclear (after its birth and infancy being a great success compared to coal) will be the only really reliable, safe and zero CO2 base load power source for the future.

    Helen has proven that conjuring emotional mystical figures out of a hat, as opposed to safe reliable peer reviewed facts and figures, is her career failing for not being taken serious by peers.

    It is clear, on paper, proven, to date, no person has come forward to claim actual deaths counted much more than 50 workers at Chernobyl, nearly 30 years after the long gone Soviet era debacle.

    If unproven, but possible, public deaths can account for hundreds after 30 years, people could be swayed that it is possible, even a few thousand mortalities over another 30 years.

    What is known, conclusively, is that people are living their long term lives, well after Chernobyl, and there were no immediate death tolls in the hundreds, like coal mining deaths and the annual deaths attributed to coal pollution …

    … (or forgotten disasters like Bhopal gas tragedy in India around the same time, actually killing thousands, with the Union Carbide boss taking flight to the US and never brought to book.)

    Coal miner deaths have racked up numbers in the millions, compared to a few dozen by nuclear.

    Coal pollution deaths have racked up hundreds of millions, compared to just hundreds by nuclear.

    Activists against nuclear, allowing coal proliferation, have now caused millions of preventable deaths, pushing indirectly a toxic, and devastating power source, proven to kill in the millions and keep on killing, every month or so, 300 coal miner deaths here, 300 there, Turkey, China, and so on, plus tens of thousands annually through atmospheric pollution, and a higher level of nuclide fallout within coal dust than worldwide nuclear emissions.

    Being anti-nuke nowadays is more of a farce and disgrace, and is liable to punish human populations looking for safe, reliable, green power.

    1. Yes, there were lots of deaths, they just weren’t reported as being caused by the nuclear power accidents. LNT predicts millions of cancer deaths form our two big nuclear disaster. hot particle makes even that number low. Why do you believe industry and political organization when they say there’s no deaths from nuclear? Plenty of article here to debunk that illusion. what did you hope to accomplish?

  2. In early 2014, it was announced that a US$1 million literary prize for a Nevil Shute-like novel that has a climate change or global warming theme will be awarded in future days.

    Think about it: A Nevil Shute-like novel about climate change could change the world and possibly even change the political climate that makes acting on climate issues so difficult. And not just a novel with the power of 1957′s “On the Beach,” but a novel that would be turned into a movie as well.

    Think about it: What if there was, just imagine this for a moment or two, a ”Nevil Shute Literary Award for Climate-Themed Novels” that was offering a US$1 million purse for a powerful climate-themed novel written by any novelist, female or male, in any country and in any language.

    First of all, people would ask: Where are you going to get the money for this prize, to the tune of US$1,000,000? One can imagine the organizers answering: ”We are actively canvassing wealthy individuals who made their money in tech and other media industries to provide seed money for this award, including the founders of PayPal, Ebay, Telsa and others. The money will come. If you build it, they will come.”

    Now for a few questions for the prize committee working on this project:

    1. Can you tell us why you started this prize and what motivates you do work on this idea? Had you been thinking of this idea for a long time, or did the idea just suddenly pop into your head one day while you were writing about climate change issues and the arts?

    2. How do you plan to go about raising US$1 million? That is a huge purse! Where is the money going to come from?

    3. Is this to be a one-time prize or will be awarded once every ten or twenty years for the next 100 years? ANSWER: One time for now, but if the sponsors agree and want to move forward, it could be handed out every so many years, depending upon what the comittee decides. Perhaps once in 2020 to start things off, and them again in 2050 and once again in 2080. The details will be handled by the sponsors?

    4. Is the prize open to all writers from all nations in any language? ANSWER: Yes.

    5. Who are you and what is your background in the arts or climate issues that gave you the impetus or permission to start this project?

    6. What are your fundraising plans for now? ANSWER: First, initially, with media and social media support worldwide, I plan to raise US$250,000, one-quarter of the goal, and slowly gather the full amount as media interest and support grows. We are looking for one benefactor or several, from one person to ten people or groups or companies. As one interested novelist in Australia said in a recent email:
    “To report this news, journalists around the world need a story, and at the moment you have the wish to run an award with a million dollar USD prize. If you are able to raise the money, absolutely fantastic, and I’m sure every paper in the country will cover it, as that would make it one of the richest – if not the richest – literary awards in the world. ”
    She added: “So – my suggestion would be to continue raising the prize money until you have a sufficient amount to run the competition – even a quarter of that — US$250,000 — would still be a very handsome prize.”
    She added: “Good luck – it’s a great idea – hope it goes well.”

    7. Who will be on the prize committee jury to choose the winning novel?

    8. When will the first prize be handed out and awarded? ANSWER: Anytime from 2015 to 2020, with future awards handed out every ten or 20 years.

    9. Did you clear this prize with anyone at the Nevil Shute Foundation in Australia yet, and why did you choose the name the prize after Mr Shute?

    10. Which media are you hoping to attract to this story? ANSWER: If all goes well, we hope to have coverage in the pages and websites of The New York Times (Leslie Kaufman there, or Justin Gillis, or Pamela Paul), the Los Angeles Times (Carolyn Kellogg there, or Hector Tobar), the BBC, CNN (Atika Shubert there), the AP and Reuters wire services, The Age of Australia and the Sydney Morning Herald (Ben Cubby there) and other media worldwide in Germany, Finland, Japan, Norway, and New Zealand.



  3. I remember ON THE BEACH only too well. The film was profoundly depressing. Well, the world situation has deteriorated (beyond belief) since then. Ironically, today’s population has ceased to be concerned about the fact that we stand on the threshold of complete annihilation.
    Now, with the Japanese nuclear plant catastrophe, it seems to be a matter of whether we go under because of long-term radioactivity and food chain contamination, or the random turning of a key by someone in a missile silo.

    I am an octogenarian. The world has treated me well. I grieve for those who deserve a happy and healthy future. They are facing depressingly long odds that it will be denied them. It seems that nuclear catastrophe is in the cards – either suddenly, or long-term. God help us…

  4. On the Beach inspired me to write a poem whilst in High School in California. I won the poetry award with that poem which I don’t remember save the title, ATOMIC AFTERMATH. The poem described a silent, lifeless world. The last bit read, “Where did they go? They went home to die.” That was 1960. Since then I’ve become convinced that without a socialist revolution, the world will be destroyed. Bob Avakian’s new synthesis of communism at REVCOM.US should be read by all who recognize that the monopoly capitalist/imperialist system impels the constant production of nuclear power plants. Obama, Mr. “hope and change”, I call “Crock Obama” because he is the servant of the so-called 1%, the imperialist bourgeoisie. I heard that he just okayed the construction of six new plants here in the US.

  5. “Radiation is the normal death principle. Every thing in Nature dies normally by slowly radiating its heat. Radioactivity is the explosively quick death principle. Radioactivity is man’s discovery of how the human race can die quickly, and not be able to propagate its kind for
    many long centuries. Man’s illegitimate use of DEATH to benefit life will but multiply death upon this planet until not one grass blade will be left upon it.”

    Dr. Walter Russell
    Atomic Suicide

  6. At minimum, nuclear power plants built near fault lines and tsunami threats need to be left off line. If they operate we will have repeated nuclear disasters until human life will become miserable, even for the ones who profit from nuclear power and weapons. We are currently engaging in mutually assured destruction in a period of relative peace.

  7. I am a man who is in shock (again) from waking up (again) to the current dangers upon us all . And as always , (I am the backwards man ) it’s too little, too late . The fallout from Chernobyl . Did it impact the olive groves in Greece ? and /or Israel ? Also , is it normal to experience harassment from government bodies after learning of these things ?

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