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War and Peace

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The more things change, the more they stay the same: this sprawling 2002 documentary by Indian video maker Anand Patwardhan, about the nascent antinuclear movement in India and Pakistan, kept reminding me of 70s documentaries on the U.S.-Soviet arms race, the toxic legacy of bomb-test fallout, and the environmental risks of nuclear power plants. Indian and Pakistani activists unite in chanting "Hindu bomb--shame, shame! Muslim bomb--shame, shame!" Testimony from survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is followed by American historians interpreting the controversy over displaying the Enola Gay at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in the mid-90s. Patwardhan often employs the narrative style of investigative journalism: statistics about outlandish defense budgets mix with sound bites from saber-rattling politicians and tearful villagers who blame cancer and birth defects on nearby uranium mines. But in the film's most alarming segments, Patwardhan expresses his disgust at the war pageantry of his native land; amid the feverish synergy of nuclear militarism, science worship, and Hindu fundamentalism, he argues, the teachings of Gandhi on pacifism and technology have never been more sorely needed--or more steadfastly ignored. In English, Hindi, and Japanese, with English subtitles. 148 min. Chicago Filmmakers, 5243 N. Clark, Saturday and Sunday, March 1 and 2, 7:00, 773-293-1447.

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