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I Am Become Death: They Made the Bomb
A film by Arthur MacCaig
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film stillOn July 16, 1945 at 5.30 a.m., in a remote site in the New Mexico desert, America successfully detonates its first atomic bomb. In El Paso, Texas, one hundred miles away, the city's residents are awakened by a silent but blinding light...

The Manhattan Project, after only four years but with a budget of 2.2 billion dollars and a work force of over 100,000, had created the ultimate weapon. Only a handful of people on the project were aware of its implications. This documentary is about a few of these people, cloistered away from 1943 to 1945 at Los Alamos, New Mexico: a place that officially did not exist.

Among them were many of the world's most brilliant scientists: the Americans Bob Wilson, Bob Serber, Bob Christy and Harold Agnew; the Europeans Hans Bethe, Stan Ulam, Enrico Fermi and Edward Teller. And above them all, was their charismatic but enigmatic leader, Robert Oppenheimer, who baptized the first bomb - Trinity. I AM BECOME DEATH is a unique, rare view from within as several of these scientists speak of experiences on the path to their terrible shared destiny. None hesitated in the creation of the bomb. All did so without illusion.

As their lives and work at Los Alamos are revealed, they relate stories of contradictions and jealousies, and how each came to terms with the atomic era's most immediate consequence: the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And as their stories unfold, viewers become painfully aware that, even fifty years later, Trinity is with us today, as it will remain tomorrow.

"Excellent. The film is the best of any of the many documentaries which have been produced on the subject."—Harold M. Agnew, Experimental Physicist

"A thoughtful look at the development of the atomic bomb. Project physicists discuss their scientific achievements, recall major figures such as group leader Robert Oppenheimer and bomb proponent Edward Teller, and talk about their family and social lives at the top-secret Los Alamos base. I AM BECOME DEATH presents rare personal perspectives."—Booklist

55 minutes / Color/B&W
Release: 1996
Copyright: 1995

For colleges, universities, government agencies, hospitals and corporations

This DVD is sold with a license for institutional use and Public Performance rights.

Study guide available

Subject areas:
American Studies, Cold War Era, Conflict Resolution, Ethics, History of Science, Nuclear Issues, Physics, Science/Technology, World War II

Related Links:
Other films and videos by Arthur MacCaig

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