KNOCKING ON THE DEVIL’S DOOR

3 Stars
Year Released: 2011
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 95 minutes
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Knocking on the Devil’s Door is a cautionary onslaught of information, images, fears and possible repercussions of the use of nuclear power. Never subtle, this documentary sides very strongly with the anti-nuclear debate. Whereas I’m not usually too keen on one-sided documentary affairs in general, I do appreciate it when a documentary owns that approach and doesn’t pretend that it isn’t doing so. It’s the ones that try to pass themselves off as objective, while hammering home perspectives that are anything but, that really bother me.

Gary Null’s film covers a lot of ground concerning nuclear power in its 95 minutes, hitting on everything from the dangers of radiation in general, the inefficiency of nuclear power compared to other options, the catastrophes of Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima, the political processes in place, the corporate powers in control, the possible negligence of the media to properly cover the facts in their portrayal of nuclear power, nuclear plant meltdown effects and even a few possible terrorism scenarios involving nuclear plants. Sometimes informative, other times utilizing straight-up fear mongering tactics, Knocking on the Devil’s Door never states any other message than its main one: The use of nuclear power is not healthy, efficient or necessary and it must be stopped before the negative effects are too widespread to do anything about. Problem is, it may already be too late.

And therein lies the rub with documentaries that use fear to tell back up their concerns: sometimes it just becomes so overwhelming that the response isn’t one of action to change, but one of hopelessness. While the film tries to instill, in its final minutes, that the continued expansion of nuclear plants across the world can be halted by an informed public willing to stand up and fight, the message comes so late in the story that I was already feeling a bit beat down by it all. At that point, I’ve already absorbed all the other fears about the nuclear issues we already have, to the point where it seems like the planet is already screwed. Sure, we can fight to make sure it doesn’t get worse, but it sounds like the damage has already been done, and it’ll be playing itself out for years to come. Which may indeed be true, but it sure doesn’t inspire confidence in our ability to fix things.

And maybe that’s the problem, and why we need a documentary that errs so strongly in the direction of delivering such a shocking perspective: the reality of the situation may be too grim for us to really wrap our heads around. At least we should acknowledge our plight and address it properly now, even if it is all too late. The question then becomes, in the end, will the people who need to see a film like this to enact change actually see it, or is it all just preaching to the choir?

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Posted on October 13, 2011 in Reviews by
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