ST. GEORGE — In their continuing mission to “enlighten, entertain, and envision the world through documentary film,” DocUtah@TheElectric and Dixie State University are bringing a film to the St. George community that strikes a significant chord in the history of the desert Southwest. “The Day After Trinity: J. Robert Oppenheimer and the Atomic Bomb” will be screened at the historic Electric Theater on June 24 and will be hosted by the film’s director, Jon Else.
“The Day After Trinity” is a haunting journey through the dawn of the nuclear age, an incisive history of humanity’s most dubious achievement and the man behind it — J. Robert Oppenheimer, the principal architect of the atomic bomb.
The Amazon review of the film states:
Featuring archival footage and commentary from scientists and soldiers directly involved with the Manhattan Project, this gripping film is a fascinating look at the scope and power of the Nuclear Age.
The setting of Southern Utah for the screening is fitting, as this is one of the locations where the nuclear age began and where the very first civilians — American citizens — were unknowingly exposed to the fallout downwind.
The “downwinders,” as those in the path of the radiation fallout from the testing came to be known, were exposed to radioactive ash that fell like snow and blew over a wide swath of the desert Southwest in Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada. Their lives and the lives of their descendants were forever changed.
For those affected at the time by the above-ground testing, which was careless at best and at worst, unconcerned for the lives of those in the path of the radiation and for those descendants still suffering the consequences, “The Day After Trinity: J. Robert Oppenheimer and the Atomic Bomb” will evoke strong emotions that have not been diminished by time.
Phil Tuckett, executive director of DocUtah, quoted Oppenheimer and said this film is not only reflective of the past but also applicable to current events.
“‘I have become death,’ said Oppenheimer when he witnessed the terrible power of the atomic bomb,” Tuckett said. “This Oscar-nominated documentary has lessons for the world in which we find ourselves facing the dangers of terrorism, tribalism and, perhaps, nuclear proliferation.”
Michelle Thomas, a St. George resident and child of the Cold War era, said she experienced firsthand the disastrous health effects brought on by living in the fallout zone of the Atomic Energy Commission’s testing. She has worked for decades to educate the community, both at home and abroad, by sharing the heart-wrenching and often staggering tales — including her own — of those who lived under the mushroom clouds.
“My mother was brave enough to speak out against the above ground atomic testing at a time when our government actually encouraged school children to go outside and watch the amazing mushroom clouds as they rose up from the desert floor and dissipated their deadly winds across our neighborhoods,” Thomas said.
- What: DocUtah@TheElectric and Dixie State University screening of “The Day After Trinity: J. Robert Oppenheimer and the Atomic Bomb”
- When: June 24 | 7 p.m.
- Where: The Electric Theater, 68 E. Tabernacle St., St. George
- Tickets can be purchased at the door the evening of the film or from Christina Merrill at the Jennings Building on the Dixie State University campus, weekdays from 10 a.m to 2 p.m.