Director: Vicki Lesley

Cast: Lily Cole (narrator)

Run time: 89 min

Synopsis: Ten years in the making and filmed across the UK, US, France & Germany, THE ATOM: A LOVE AFFAIR is a landmark new documentary film charting the West’s rollercoaster, love-hate relationship with nuclear power over the past seventy years – as told by those who lived through it


Vicki Lesley’s first feature has been ten years in the making. Filmed across the UK, US, France and Germany, The Atom: A Love Affair is a hard-hitting new feature-length documentary charting the West’s seventy years love-hate relationship with nuclear power. In a dramatic tale of belief, betrayal, intrigue and hope, we hear first-hand from the scientists, engineers, politicians and campaigners who have navigated the complex passions and political imperatives of the twentieth century’s most controversial energy source.

Nuclear power is a divisive topic. Since the early days of optimism there have been many dark days in its history – Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima being the most remembered disasters. The film charts our ambivalent relationship with nuclear power,  revealing an often forgotten history in the process.

The frank testimony from major players on both sides of the Atlantic – including politicians, scientists, engineers and campaigners – is often a revelation. The dramatic recollections of these talking heads are brought to life with a treasure trove of original archive material and clever re-purposing of vintage industrial films. Instead of trying to argue for or against nuclear power, the film spins the events into a turbulent, on-off love story whose drama is still playing out today.

This is an engrossing story of deeply felt convictions, political manoeuvring, blunders, crisis and reinvention. We hear from the scientists, engineers and executives directly involved in the fluctuating fortunes of the ‘peaceful atom’ and various attempts as one commentator says to ‘make nuclear energy cool again.’

A sweeping story of technological obsession, political imperatives and powerful, conflicting passions, The Atom: A Love Affair is a documentary that sheds new light on the present and future of nuclear power by delving deep into the story of its past.

Now, as a new 21st century landscape of smart, flexible and decentralised energy rapidly evolves around it, could it really be the end of the affair for the once mighty atom?

With music from Paul Honey and cinematography by Michael Timney and Owen Scurfield, The Atom: A Love Affair  is unbiased in charting the changing relationship and cleverly uses some of its archival material to frame its nuclear story as a sentimental screen romance.

Could the atom be a future environmental saviour or, as one contributor comments, ”It’s always jam tomorrow with nuclear power – never jam today.”


From Friday 15th May, THE ATOM: A LOVE AFFAIR will premiere on Curzon Home Cinema, followed by a Q&A with director Vicki Lesley and the film’s narrator actor, author and activist Lily Cole.


Images: courtesy of Dartmouth Films