Arts Desk

Environmental Film Festival: Into Eternity, Reviewed

Michael Madsen

It goes without saying that the last week inspired more fear and confusion about nuclear power than all the giant apocalyptic monsters and nuked fridges in the world could  ever muster. But the most terrifying part? Nuclear power is going to outlive the human race.

Michael Madsen—no relation to the occasional actor and poet—tackles this in his exposé-cum-documentary Into Eternity, which focuses on the Onkalo (which Madsen translates as "secret place," while it literally means "cavern") Disposal Facility in Finland. "You're heading toward a place where you should never go," Madsen intones over a slow crawl into the dank entrance of the facility. "What is there is dangerous and repulsive. You should not have come here." This is not, as Madsen will explain over a series of monologues set in a dark room with a match as the only light source, a documentary; it is a warning from the past. Onkalo is an ongoing honeycomb of tunnels going deep into bedrock near the Olkiluoto Nuclear Power Plant; it won't be completed until 2020.

As a director, Madsen is a force: His camera slinks around the tunnels and facility of Onkalo and Olkiluoto (at one point set to music from Kraftwerk's Radio-Activity). Even in Madsen's closing shots, there isn't a grand swell in music as we're told how to better the world. We simpy see simply the workers still digging into the bedrock, pulling back a protective cover after a new explosion, slipping deeper and deeper into the earth to the sounds Jean Sibelius.

And yet, the big plan is simply to bury the nuclear waste which will outlast our civilization. So how do we inform future cultures that Onkalo is dangerous? Various government officials and anthropologists give their opinions—from putting up spikes to writing warnings in multiple languages. "What if they think it is a playground?" one asks "What if they are like us and ignore it because they're curious?"

Into Eternity plays, as a part of the Energy Film Series sidebar of the Environmental Film Festival, tomorrow at 1 p.m. at the Avalon Theatre.

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