Friday, July 15, 2011
“Into Eternity” a Truly Scary Movie
By Skip Sheffield
Forget your monsters, aliens, giant righting robots, vampires or zombies. “Into Eternity” is one of the scariest movies I’ve seen in years.
“Into Eternity” is a documentary film by Danish multimedia artist Michael Madsen. It is only 75 minutes long in English, Finnish and Swedish language, with subtitles, but it will stop and make you think for a long, long time.
Onkalo is the name of a subterranean storage facility on a remote island in Finland. “Onkalo” means hiding place in Finnish, and that is what the government intends to do with the radioactive nuclear waste from its power plants: bury it in bedrock far below earth and then seal it up for all eternity- or at least for 100,000 years, which is how long it takes for radioactivity to dissipate from plutonium and uranium. The huge challenge is that humans have never constructed anything that has endured even a tenth of that time. What will the world be like 100,000 years hence? Will there even be human life?
“Into Eternity” poses very basic philosophical questions as the director films the work in progress at the gloomy, eerie site. Excavation for Onkalo began in 2003, and construction won’t be finished until the 22nd century. There is a debate as to whether the site should have prominent warning signs on it, or be totally unmarked. Given the curious nature of humans, some future treasure-hunter could discover the concrete seal and think great riches are contained inside. Because language and communication is always changing, would humans understand any of the current languages or international symbols?
The tragic recent earthquake in Japan has driven home the very real threat of radiation sickness and death unleashed from the world’s nuclear reactors after natural disasters. Finland is only 16th in the world in nuclear power. The USA is No. 1, with France and Japan in second and third place. How safe are the current above-ground nuclear waste storage containers? How long will they remain safe?
These are very troubling questions. It is a credit to the people of Finland that they have decided to do something about it. We face serious potential problems here in America that could affect us and our offspring for all eternity.
“Into Eternity” is the opposite of an escapist movie. It is a film that challenges, frightens, troubles and angers the viewer, yet there a spooky beauty to it, accompanied by an equally spooky soundtrack contemporary composer Karten Fundal and the great Finnish
composer, Jean Sibelius. Proceed at your own risk. Life is complicated, and growing more complex every year.