“You are now in a place where we have buried something from you to protect you. You should stay away from this place and you will be safe.” These are the first words of the documentary “Into Eternity,” an interestingly eerie film about the storage of nuclear wastes in Finland. Danish director Michael Madsen uses a blend of interviewing and raw cinematic sequences to create a horribly awesome insight to the dangers of nuclear waste storage.
At this very moment, there are approximately 250,000 tons of radioactive waste present in the world. It will take 100,000 years before it can safely be deemed not hazardous. Onkalo (on-cuh-low) is a Finnish site that holds a portion of this waste. Onkalo, which means “hiding place,” is a complex radioactive world that extends 500 meters underneath the ground. After it is sealed in 2100, any disturbance to what Madsen calls a “fiery furnace” may lead to hefty disaster. I’m talking about thousands of tons of uranium blowing chunks 500 meters up earth’s crust and shredding the skin off any poor soul lingering by.
“Into Eternity” addresses the question of how present day people may stop the people of the future from entering Onkalo. The big problem is that we have no clairvoyance to tell if future beings will have our same linguistic abilities. One solution is to place an enlarged version of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” over the vault to serve a universal warning of Get-the-Hell-Away-From-Here. Another is to place a monument of thorny structures over the site. But, as pyramid grave robbers and archaeologists know, human curiosity could very well defeat the purpose of these markers. Madsen himself brings up this concern by appearing onscreen with a match illuminating his somber face to ask the audience, “Were you warned about Onkalo through legend? Did your parents tell you stories about the fire in the chamber deep in the bowels of the earth? The chamber you must always remember to forget?”
The documentary ends with a raw cut of two figures arriving at a closed up Onkalo. They slowly funeral march up to the vault gates, tear down the dusty covering and disappear into the phantasmagoric fog. Basically, the future is screwed.
The entire movie has a dissonantly sterile, professional quality about it. The chilling background music is quite reminiscent of “Twilight Zone,” and the nightmarish look into the dark cave that is Onkalo gives one an unnatural feeling of loneliness. For those of you who love that creepy science-y shudder you get from “LOST,” this one is for you. Except be warned: this shit is real.
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