features

Director Lucy Walker says we should all fear nuclear Armageddon

18 Comments
By Sarah Cortina

“When I was a child, the thing that I was most afraid of was nuclear bombs.”

That might not be the most common fear for a little girl, but then again, Lucy Walker wasn’t your average little girl. The London native first gained recognition as a theater director while still an undergraduate at Oxford, going on to win a Fulbright Scholarship to study film at New York University—all the while DJing on the side. She began her motion picture career on the small screen, directing several Emmy-nominated episodes of the Nickelodeon children’s series "Blue’s Clues" before transitioning to feature-length documentaries.

Walker’s films tackle topics ranging from the Amish “rumspringa” ("Devil’s Playground," 2002) to a group of blind Tibetan teenagers who set out to climb Mt Everest ("Blindsight," 2006). More recently, she became the first documentary director to have two films screened simultaneously at the Sundance Film Festival, when "Waste Land" (2010) and "Countdown to Zero" (2010) both premiered there last year.

"Countdown," which is set to hit theaters in Japan this spring, presents a chilling overview of atomic weapons and the risks they pose in an age when concerns about nuclear war have been overshadowed by terrorism, global warming and a host of other issues.

“We’ve stopped worrying about the problem, but that’s a big mistake,” Walker says. “I made the movie because I was scared, but as I went along I only got more scared.”

"Countdown" features interviews with more than 80 people, from former world leaders like Tony Blair, Jimmy Carter and Mikhail Gorbachev to scientists and nuclear experts, as well as man-on-the-street surveys that reveal just how little most folks know about the issue.

Walker says that although people on all sides of the debate were happy to sit down with her, getting relevant background footage was more of a struggle. “It was really hard to get permission to shoot anything inside the nuclear weapons establishment. Nobody said, ‘Hey, I’m going to sneak you in and give you a close look at a bomb.’”

Which is not necessarily a bad thing. “Thank goodness,” she says with a laugh. “I discovered the security is really good and tight.”

When asked about the most frightening segment in the film, Walker points to her interview with a nuclear weapons smuggler. “He says in the movie that the Taliban was trained in the Scottish highlands, which is not true. And I think, ‘Oh my goodness, this man was selling real weapons-grade uranium, and he thought he was selling it to somebody from Al-Qaida so that it could be used to blow up the United States.’ And yet he was so ignorant. That was very shocking.”

While Walker is busy promoting "Countdown" and "Waste Land" (tentatively planned for release in Tokyo later in the year), she hasn’t stopped thinking about the future. “The next chapter in the ‘Adventures of Lucy’ is a big question mark,” she says. “I’m not quite sure what’s going to happen, and until I’m in love with an idea, I won’t know.”

This story originally appeared in Metropolis magazine (www.metropolis.co.jp).

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.


18 Comments
Login to comment

When I was a child, the thing that I was most afraid of was those werewolf SS stormtroopers from An American Werewolf in London.

“Countdown,” which is set to hit theaters in Japan this spring, presents a chilling overview of atomic weapons and the risks they pose in an age when concerns about nuclear war have been overshadowed by terrorism, global warming and a host of other issues.

That has happened because everyone knows how stupid nuclear was would be. Terrorism is much more close to home and could and does happen anywhere at any time.

“We’ve stopped worrying about the problem, but that’s a big mistake,” Walker says. “I made the movie because I was scared, but as I went along I only got more scared.”

So, she enjoys fear-mongering?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well, with the expertise only a director of Blues Clues can offer on the subject of what we all should fear, I will consider the matter seriously.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Am I one of few who think nuclear weapons are a necessary evil?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I haven't seen any of her films yet, but you really can't go wrong with a documentary about Mt. Everest. Always some spectacular scenery and drama waiting to happen.

"study film at New York University—all the while DJing on the side."

I wonder what other alumni of NYU film school like Spike Lee and Ang Lee did to put themselves through college. Nike commercials?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just what the world needs, more fear. Go ahead, pile it on, but the masses will become anesthetized from it eventually. When the world is completely free of fear, I think humankind will more forward.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Sidesmile, Im on board with ya. Deterring war with Nukes is the only way poorer smaller countries can defend themselves from the bullying of the strong. Everyone should have them. Look at the NK situation.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@cactusjack,if the world becomes completely free of fear that is exactly when we should be fearing. The fear of consequences is exactly why the nuclear haves don't press the button. Fear is good. The reason that folk panic about NK etc developing the technology is not the belief that they would launch one willynilly, the chance that they would sell it on to some proper undesirable individuals who genuinely wouldnt think twice about using it is the frightening thing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

When I was a child I was really afraid of "The Blob". I mean you couldn't stop it. It went under doors.... One touch and your dead... Really scary for a kid...

Nuclear weapons... Nah not that scary

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Actually, with a balance of nuclear power things are kept in check. No nukes would equal armageddon. But that would never happen, as someone would have some.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

cactusJack...I am with you 100%. Fear causes mot of the world strife.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Junnama: ha-ha ... gee, a real comedian on the board today.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think we should all fear running out of awl.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

She needs to go back under her bed, cower, and let the rest of us live our lives. There will be no armageddon via nuclear weapons. Everyone knows the cons to those weapons outweigh any pros. They render the land unusable for an unreasonably long period of time and the effects of the weapon depart the battlefield and affect other non-combatant areas. Precision-guided conventional weapons are much more effective at removing the enemy while preserving most of the land for immediate use after the war is over.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Fear mongering rubbish!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I don't know why she thinks this is new. My whole generation, and older grew up waiting for the Russians to nuke us. And yes, nukes in the hands of terrorists and rogue governments are far scarier than those held by normal countries because they don't have anything to lose by using them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@ MrDog and Youdontknow

So, she enjoys fear-mongering? Fear mongering rubbish!

If the facts make people afraid it's not fear mongering. Using hypothetical examples to make people afraid, on the other hand, is.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This article does not make me want to go see any of her movies, but nuclear weapons are a deterrent for a nuclear holocaust. I believe humans want to survive too much to let a few crazies take over and abolish our existence with full-on nuclear warfare.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

They render the land unusable for an unreasonably long period of time

Except for Nagasaki and Hiroshima, of course, which were populated immediately. Chernobyl, on the other hand, has rendered the area unusable. No bomb involved.

nuclear weapons are a deterrent for a nuclear holocaust

Because if nobody had any nuclear weapons, we'd have a nuclear holocaust?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites