Film review | Countdown to Zero - Lucy Walker's chilling film spells out the threat of nuclear weapons

Countdown to Zero - Blast ring New York City

The threat posed by nuclear weapons went away with the end of the Cold War, didn’t it? Not according to Countdown to Zero, British filmmaker Lucy Walker's passionate campaigning documentary, an urgent wake-up call to the very real dangers the world continues to face.

Like it or not, everyone on the planet is still living under the ‘nuclear sword of Damocles’ that John F Kennedy invoked in his famous UN speech of 1961.

Using JFK’s three potential triggers of disaster – accident, miscalculation or madness – Walker's chillingly spells out how such nuclear disasters could come about, marshalling an impressive line-up of witnesses, from Jimmy Carter to Mikhail Gorbachev to make her case.

And it is not just terrorists or rogue states who pose a threat. As the film shows, the world came perilously close to nuclear war in 1995 when the Russians mistook a Norwegian weather rocket for a US nuclear attack. Fortunately, with minutes to spare, Soviet president Boris Yeltsin went against the rule-book and dismissed his generals' demands for all-out retaliation. Next time, we may not be so lucky.

Countdown to Zero site.

Global zero campaign site.

On general release from 24th June.


To activate the sound in the trailer: hold your cursor over the screen to reveal the control panel and click on the volume control in the bottom right-hand corner.