Directed by Frederick Wiseman (USA, 1987, 115 min.) 16mm.

Missile follows the 4315th Training Squadron of the Strategic Air Command at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, where Air Force officers are trained to man the Launch Control Centers for the Minuteman Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. Sequences include discussion of the moral and military issues of nuclear war; the arming, targeting, and launching of the missile; codes; communications; protection against terrorist attack; emergency procedures; staff meetings; and tutorial sessions.

Missile does not frighten viewers with melodramatic scenes of atomic holocaust, nuclear winter, or East-West confrontations. Instead, it merely documents the step-by-step training of the intelligent, responsible, sincere, and likable men and women who have their fingers on the controls of the US nuclear arsenal. The officers selected for training and their instructors appear to be of high moral caliber. But the calmness, responsibility, and intelligence with which they face the potential destruction of our civilization is what makes Missile so unnerving; it brings home that nuclear war could really happen. Wiseman continues his unique obsession to force viewers to experience—and reevaluate—American institutions at first hand.” —Arthur Unger, The Christian Science Monitor


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