Film: Countdown To Zero

Director: Lucy Walker

Year: 2010

UK Release Date: 24th June 2011 (simultaneous broadcasts occurring)

Bonus: Q & A with Lucy Walker

Venue: BFI Southbank

Production Company: (include) Lawrence Bender Productions


You, Them & Us…


A myriad of emotions passed through me with this latest cinematic storytelling event. Fear; Horror; Worry; Concern; Empathy (for every being and for the Human spirit).

I’ll say now that this was no fiction-filled-flick but rather a documentary feature. And one from (recently) Oscar-nominated Brit, Lucy Walker. Now here’s a woman who really knows how to tell a heartfelt and poignant ‘true story’.

I don’t say this based on “Countdown To Zero” alone, that would be naive. No. I previously had the pleasure of seeing Waste Land and that film left me gobsmacked. Indeed, it could be described as a feel-good movie. Just like Slumdog Millionaire was tagged as a feel-good movie – even though filled with evil and bad circumstances throughout until the uplifting ending – Waste Land could be as well.


It is known already, but we are sitting on a time-bomb or rather multiple-bombs in the form of nuclear arms. We have a massive risk hanging over us. This risk, though is not only down to the fact that by the odd switch or two one country could blow ourselves, families and lifelines to pieces. It is a “risk with another risk”, of so easily being detonated ‘by accident’. These potential accidents or mistakes are shown in this film. I say ‘potential’ but even that is perhaps the incorrect word as there HAVE BEEN examples of unintentional ‘release’ and MAJOR panic. You really have to see this motion picture to fully understand.

Accompanied by brilliantly atmospheric music & perfect animation, we witness historical footage as well as some beautiful shots. A few members of the public are asked various questions about nuclear weapons and, for example, individuals are asked to name the various countries ‘which they believe’ currently have such weapons. Not to mention how many are thought and/or known to be held worldwide.

“Joe Public” is not all that is questioned here… World leaders, politicians and other major figures (past/present) all present their opinions. Most of these – I learned from Lucy Walker’s ‘Masterclass’ and Q & A afterwards – were conducted by Lucy herself…and by no means easy tasks. Whether you dislike, disliked or have disagreed with these political figures in the past you can not help but be moved and interested by their views.

Even Gorbachev & Reagan’s ‘Star Wars’ program and it’s ultimate failure or dismissal is shown as touching – but not in the exaggerated way a ‘reality’ TV show may manipulate it or your feelings.

Whilst I talk here about feelings I feel the need to mention the following… As well as the emotions listed at the start of this review I, for one or two brief moments I experienced Love – not for nuclear weapons – for what the human race could achieve if we all got together, to rid the world of such weapons of mass destruction and therefore this fear.


As brilliant a cinematic documentary as this is – and as Lucy explained – it is so different to her other 3*, especially in narrative. It was also hinted that her future (5th) movie could indeed be different again…a work of fiction in the form of a feature film. Lucy also gave a couple of anecdotes, a story about the lengths to go through when meeting political players, old or new (including how many visits each one took) as well as an amusing tale about her ‘un’-intended Oscar dress.

[*See “Devil’s Playground”; “Blindsight”; “Waste Land”]

If the mention of a Radiohead track also used in the film [the second Radiohead reference recently – see my review of the Japanese movie, Confessions] doesn’t summarise the film and the awe it brings, I’ll finish with these further words…

In my opinion, this is a great ‘horror’ film and with a big heart. So much so that I was on the edge of my seat, especially when we two thirds through it.

…And…as I sit here listening to Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime by The Korgis, it seems to go well with my memories of one of the end shots in the picture. It is a shot where we are above a nuclear missile-head, looking down – one can imagine & fear it going off…not only towards ‘us’, the audience but also how easily and accidentally the button can be pushed.

If a ‘button must be pushed’ make it a ‘click’ on either of the following:




So, you want a taster?


Find the following Mini Mini Movie (i.e. Trailer) & other Mini-er Movies at:

“Countdown To Film”


Lastly, keep an eye out for Mini Mini’s interview with Lucy Walker, the director of this film and other ones. Check out those others if you can – essentially The Tsunami And The Cherry Blossom, Blindsight, Devil’s Playground & Waste Land.  The latter being another Oscar Nominated documentary [as too is The Tsunami And The Cherry Blossom] and at the same time a title not to far from what we witness in Countdown To Zero… In other words, areas all over the world potentially each one capable of ending up as wasteland.