City of the dead, reborn | Movie Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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City of the dead, reborn

The documentary Bhopali revisits the Indian community ravaged by industrial poison


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In December 1984 the central Indian city of Bhopal experienced one of the worst industrial disasters in history when toxic gas erupted from a Union Carbide chemical plant, killing thousands instantly and poisoning the local water supply for years to come. This superior documentary surveys the city 25 years later, focusing on the heroic doctors, teachers, and therapists who care for the many orphaned and disabled children. Director Van Maximilian Carlson generates such affection for these people that when activists try to bring Union Carbide executives to justice, their crusade seems less a political cause than a faultless moral impulse. The movie is commendably blunt about the effects of industrial pollution but also uplifting in showing how a community can regroup after a catastrophe. In English and subtitled Hindi.

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