War and Peace

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. 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 and subtitled Hindi and Japanese. 148 min.

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