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[VIDEO] ‘Hello, Dimitri’ Dr. Strangelove 1964

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US nearly detonated atomic bomb over North Carolina – secret document

The bomb that nearly exploded over North Carolina was 260 times more powerful than the device which devasted Hiroshima in 1945. Photo: Three Lions/Getty Images

The bomb that nearly exploded over North Carolina was 260 times more powerful than the device which devasted Hiroshima in 1945. Photo: Three Lions/Getty Images

A secret document, published in declassified form for the first time by the Guardian today, reveals that the US Air Force came dramatically close to detonating an atom bomb over North Carolina that would have been 260 times more powerful than the device that devastated Hiroshima.

The document, obtained by the investigative journalist Eric Schlosser under the Freedom of Information Act, gives the first conclusive evidence that the US was narrowly spared a disaster of monumental proportions when two Mark 39 hydrogen bombs were accidentally dropped over Goldsboro, North Carolina on 23 January 1961. The bombs fell to earth after a B-52 bomber broke up in mid-air, and one of the devices behaved precisely as a nuclear weapon was designed to behave in warfare: its parachute opened, its trigger mechanisms engaged, and only one low-voltage switch prevented untold carnage. Read the rest of this entry »


Remembering Cinematographer Gilbert Taylor

Cinematographer on the first Star Wars film who worked with Hitchcock and Polanski

A scene from Repulsion, directed by Roman Polanski with cinematography by Gilbert Taylor. 'He mostly used reflected light bounced off the ceiling or walls,' recalled Polanski. Photograph: Moviestore Collection/Rex Features

A scene from Repulsion, directed by Roman Polanski with cinematography by Gilbert Taylor. Photograph: Moviestore Collection/Rex Features

A scene from Repulsion, directed by Roman Polanski with cinematography by Gilbert Taylor. ‘He mostly used reflected light bounced off the ceiling or walls,’ recalled Polanski.

The British cinematographer Gilbert Taylor, who has died aged 99, was best known for his camerawork on the first Star Wars movie (1977). Though its special effects and set designs somewhat stole his thunder, it was Taylor who set the visual tone of George Lucas’s six-part space opera.

“I wanted to give it a unique visual style that would distinguish it from other films in the science-fiction genre,” Taylor declared. “I wanted Star Wars to have clarity because I don’t think space is out of focus … I thought the look of the film should be absolutely clean … But George [Lucas] saw it differently … For example, he asked to set up one shot on the robots with a 300mm camera lens and the sand and sky of the Tunisian desert just meshed together. I told him it wouldn’t work, but he said that was the way he wanted to do the entire film, all diffused.” Fortunately for everyone, this creative difference was resolved by 20th Century Fox executives, who backed Taylor’s approach.

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