Featuring Noam Chomsky, Martin Sheen, and Helen Caldicott. Unrated. Plays Friday to Tuesday, June 4 to 8, at the Vancity Theatre
With the social, financial, and environmental problems bubbling up at the moment, we can’t be blamed, exactly, for failing to search the skies for trouble. Still, we’re idiots to ignore the warning signs above, and that’s the main message of this troubling documentary.
Directed by French-born Denis Delestrac, Pax Americana and the Weaponization of Space details the history and possible outcomes of a space race that began with Russia’s 1957 Sputnik launch. Of course, things started much earlier, when Hitler sent those V-2 rockets into English airspace, followed by Washington’s instant de-Nazification of rocket man Wernher von Braun, who put a big smile on NASA’s public face.
The prevalence of “kill vehicles” and other potentially lethal exotica in space sped up under Ronald Reagan, who gave carte blanche to the U.S. Air Force to expand dominance of the stratospheric high ground. And every president since has increased the budget for this dangerous grandiosity, always in the guise of national defence, of course—a position asserted by the many military figures seen here.
As illuminated by a welter of commentators, including Noam Chomsky, Helen Caldicott, and Martin Sheen, this less-than-heavenly push has been a spectacular boondoggle for the military-industrial complex—a “long con”, as one congressional observer calls it, designed as a licence to print money for programs that generally fail before getting off the ground. The scam may hide even more sinister purposes, but the most threatening aspect could be the proliferation of fast-moving space junk encircling our planet even before a catastrophic conflict or accident takes place.
Given all these fright factors, it almost seems wrong that the 85-minute film, goosed along by fast edits, high-tech graphics, and Amon Tobin’s electronic music, should be so cosmically entertaining.
Watch the trailer for Pax Americana and the Weaponization of Space.