Film review: Into Eternity (MFF 2011)

Into Eternity
Film i Väst, Global HDTV, Magic Hour Films ApS, Atmo Media Network, Mouka Filmi Oy, Sveriges Television (SVT), Yleisradio (YLE)

STARRING Timo Äikäs, Carl Reinhold Bråkenhjelm, Mikael Jensen, Berit Lundqvist, Wendla Paile
WRITTEN BY Michael Madsen, Jesper Bergmann
PRODUCED BY Lise Lense-Møller
DIRECTED BY Michael Madsen

SHOT BY Heikki Färm
EDITED BY Daniel Dencik, Stefan Sundlöf
DISTRIBUTED BY Films Transit International

Screened at the 2011 Milwaukee Film Festival

“You should not have come here.”

Chronicle and ‘time capsule’ regarding an unprecedented nuclear waste repository in Finland called Onkalo (“hiding place”). Michael Madsen (not that Michael Madsen) narrates this non-fiction film to a perceived audience who may stumble upon it if they tread into Onkalo – which everybody prays will not happen. Since nuclear waste will no longer be dangerous to humans after, it’s estimated, 100,000 years, a facility needed to be constructed which could potentially not be breached in this much time. The construction of this facility brings up questions which humanity has not needed to ask itself before:

If civilization as we know it ends – which it almost certainly will over such a timespan – how will we warn future generations to not drill at Onkalo? Will these future civilizations have the technology to be able to understand the danger associated with “nuclear?” And even if they do sense the danger – – could they possibly be prevented from pursuing their human curiosities? Examples are likened to the Egyptian pyramids and ancient burial tombs – mightn’t uranium and plutonium, in some future, be regarded as treasure, and sought? Might Onkalo come off as a burial site, or other religious-themed locale? The Onkalo architects are thinking in the longest human terms in history. The film itself is narrated in a ‘mythic’ tone.

The Onkalo storage site will be constructed over the next 100 years – decommissioned and permanently sealed in the 2100s – exists 5km below the surface, and will be the size of a city by the time it’s done. And personally, just fantasizing about the dramatic ramifications of this location are so titillating I fidgeted in my seat like a nerdy… tike, or something. I really loved the film, and it’s entirely palatable at 75 minutes. Here’s to some serious long-term thinking and awe!

written by David Ashley