1961 American Propaganda about Nuclear Radiation & Fallout

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This 1961 U.S. Civil Defense film is significant because it was among the first of its kind to characterize nuclear fallout as dangerous. Making the claim that every U.S. citizen lives within fallout range of a “likely nuclear attack target,” the film uses maps and various shots of highways, suburbs, crowds, and pedestrians to show the potential for fallout to affect everyone. The use of dramatic music and narration suggests that this was a typical “scare film” meant to induce the public to take the threat of nuclear fallout seriously. There is even footage of a man dying in a hospital bed, presumably of radiation sickness. Various methods for surviving nuclear war for humans and even livestock are shown. Not a cheery Cold War propaganda relic, this film about the dangers and effects of radiation is a serious affair. Fallout shelters and obtaining them was a serious concern for a family terrified of nuclear radiation, illness, sickness, and poisoning.

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