As the film-makers say, this is a film about the biggest weapons of mass destruction ever created: it is about the people who use them, and more importantly it is about the people who fight them.
Patel and Matt, Brixton-based activists, undertook this film - their first feature length documentary - to mark CND’s fiftieth anniversary two years ago.
In the making, the film grew, as it became apparent to them that CND is not just about nukes.
As a radical political movement it emerged into a rapidly changing world - colonial empires were being dismantled, Cuba was in revolution.
The early Aldermaston marches represented microcosms of the new post-war Britain, articulating both widespread popular dissent and the social rebellion of the youth.
CND shaped and defined subsequent social and political movements, and inspired generations of activists at home and abroad.
What really hit me about the film is that the history of CND is actually the history of post-World War II, told from the side of those fighting for humanity against the horror of war.
Patel and Matt demonstrate clearly, through the use of archive footage and interviews with activists - Tony Benn, Walter Wolfgang, Caroline Lucas, Vivienne Westwood, Mark Thomas and many others - that it is the story of ordinary people’s struggles to shape a world without nuclear weapons and war, based on legality and morality.
Inevitably the struggle is shown to become a wider one: to make government responsive and accountable over our right to stay alive, our right to breathe air free of radioactive pollution and to say no to the indiscriminate killing of other peoples.
And as the film unfolds, they integrate a developing understanding of the significance of politics, of economic systems, of commercial and industrial interests, which enriches their analysis and of course the film itself.
CND has been most successful and effective when it has related directly to people’s most pressing concerns - linking our issues to the reality of what is going on in the world. That comes over very clearly, and often very movingly.
I have to admit to shedding a tear, watching the courage of the Greenham women against the brutality of the Thatcher-driven police. I also very much liked the way that the film showed that nuclear weapons are not the preserve of technological or military experts, in some kind of specialist niche that isn’t relevant to ordinary mortals - they are directly linked to so many issues: war, the environment, health, debt, poverty.
That is what today’s activists have to understand and convey - and act upon. Above all, the film shows that nuclear weapons are the concern of us all, for in them humankind has created something that could end our very existence - and governments will only shift on nuclear weapons policy when enough of us demand change.
Go and see it for yourself - it’s powerful and moving stuff. A real testament against war and for peace and justice. Or better still, organise a screening in your area: the more people that see it the better for the movement.
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