Ground Zero Film Details
Overview: A second generation cameraman in Australia finds evidence that his father had filmed a nuclear test that allowed aboriginies to be exposed to and killed by radiation. He begins a search for…
Review: Ground Zero is the Australian addition to that sub-genre of conspiracy thrillers that do not so much use some real-life national issue as the background for action as construct an action narrative to draw attention to that issue. The main issue here is the legacy of the British nuclear testing in the desert of Maralinga in the 1950s and 60s, the damage to the population and the environment left by the explosions. It allows the filmmakers to dramatise the work of the Royal Commission investigating the effects of the fallout and have the Aussies at least here give the British hard time about it (the actual settlement was only reached years later). The British also get to represent Them, the shadowy establishment chasing Friels’s lone everyman who is trying to find out the truth about what his father caught on film in Maralinga. Not only haunted by the mystery of his father, Friels is also forced to be an absent father to his own son and comes across as a very Australian take on the lone conspiracy hero: for all his masculine bravado and apparent individualism he is essentially adrift and ultimately helpless to do anything except run from the overwhelming forces stacked against him. This highlights the film’s second big issue, Australia’s anxiety about its sovereignty, having seemingly passed from the nuclear test site of the British Empire into the southern military base and cultural satellite of the United States. Perhaps it is even the filmmakers’ own anxiety about trying to make a successful Australian film fit for international consumption. “Only accents and uniforms change”, Pleasance’s half-crazed veteran not very subtly hammers home the film’s cynical moral. It is Pleasance’s performance, typically balanced just right between gripping and campy, and the mythical power of the locale, Australia’s ever-present and definition-defying inland, that elevate the film into a kind of mystic and mythical quest for some unspeakable hidden knowledge about the unthinkable horror of the nuclear fire. While the setting is not used with such visual intensity as in, say, Razorback, it gives a haunting aura of grandeur to what is, in a more rational analysis, just a modest but well-executed paranoia thriller narrative (which includes even that staple of both left- and right-wing conspiracy narratives, the menacing black helicopter). It fulfilled both of its briefs by bringing its national issue into attention and capturing its audience even here, a world away from Maralinga, the former very much thanks to the latter. At least the film’s final images remain burned into my memory twenty years after the first viewing.
Duration: 109 min
Genre: Action, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Also known as: Proklisi apo to parelthon,Nullpunktet,Raport,グランドゼロ,Zérópont,Zona cero: Alerta nuclear,Lippu helvettiin,Obszar zero,Ground Zero.,Ground Zero,Biljett till helvetet,Terre interdite,Välähdys menneisyydestä,Kreis der Angst