Any interview that includes the information that the military once misplaced thermonuclear weapons is an interview that could easily unleash torrents of paranoia. But talking with Robert Kenner and Eric Schlosser about their latest collaboration, COMMAND AND CONTROL puts it in perspective. I’m not saying all concerns were quelled by the end, but hearing how open, almost eager, the military is to improving the maintenance of their nuclear weapons arsenal is a comfort.
The conversation started with why Schlosser was prompted to explore a non-food issue, and moved on to the structure of a young brain, the small chance that testing the first atomic bomb might have ended life on the planet, and where the nearest nuclear weapon installation is to the San Francisco Bay Area.
We finished up with my asking Kenner, whose last film, MERCHANTS OF DOUBT, explored how issues are spun in the media, his thoughts about the presidential and vice-presidential debates.
Their documentary is a minute-by-minute account of an accident at the Damascus missile installation in Arkansas in 1980. Even knowing that a nuclear explosion did not rip a hole in that state does nothing to lessen the tension. With interviews and contemporary footage, we watch as trained and dedicated professionals cope with a situation for which no one was prepared when a dropped wrench set in motion a chain of events that led to two deaths and a wake-up call of massive proportions.
COMMAND AND CONTROL is a deeply disquieting documentary about the cost of stockpiling nuclear weapons that raises questions about safety protocols as well as the staffing of installations that house weapons of mass destruction. Schlosser’s previous work as a writer and as a producer includes the FAST FOOD NATION , FOOD, INC, THERE WILL BE BLOOD and FOOD CHAINS. Kenner is a documentarian with a slew of credits, most recently the incisive look at media spin, MERCHANTS OF DOUBT, and he previously collaborated with Schlosser on FOOD, INC.