In My Lifetime: Film Review


A look at Robert Frye’s documentary about the history of Nuclear Weapons Policy.


By Joel Durston

Alongside films about friends with benefits and lads’ holidays, what many moviegoers will miss is the premiere of In My Lifetime. This is a far less fated release, but arguably far more important.

It focuses on the history of Nuclear Weapons Policy and is the result of around 4 year’s work by American filmmaker Robert Frye.

It opens with a famous quote from Author, William Johnston, which epitomises the film: “The spirit of our times is unclear. On the one hand, a longing for peace; on the other, powerful inner forces impel the world leaders to carry on arms races they cannot halt.”

This gives way to an impressive shot of the world taken from the earth’s atmosphere, to sparse, sombre piano backing, hinting at the film’s grandiose ambitions.

It does deliver on this on its august aims though. Frye has meticulously compiled archive footage, quotes from politicians and polemicists and interviews with everyone from laboratory technicians, to scientific director, to political thinkers and congressmen.

The film’s cinematography is especially startling. Footage such as that of ‘Ivy Mike’ bomb – approximately 450 times more devastating the Nagasaki bomb – is both an incredible testament to humanity’s creation and a frightening reminder of our capacity for self-destruction.

Starting with the first nuclear bomb explosion – the U.S. Army’s Trinity Explosion – and harrowing footage of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, nuclear bomb explosions are revealed chronologically in their devastating enormity, which works well as a narrative.

It then follows the global arms race into the Cold War; a world that ‘was always just a couple of minutes away from nuclear war’.

Ironically, for a film named In My Lifetime, there is ostensibly little of Frye himself. But this choice does avoid the self-righteous arguably hectoring characteristic of Michael Moore.

Frye claimed he gave the film “space to breathe” so everybody could relate and form opinion freely.

This it predominately does, but it could be said to skirt over the idea of mutually assured destruction.

Furthermore, at around two hours, some may find it a slight stretch but such is the wealth of fascinating footage – one can see the justification.

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