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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

308. After The Apocalypse

    I don't know what shocked me more tonight. The discovery that the Soviets tested nuclear weapons on their own people or the harsh attitude the medical world has towards those affected.
    Thanks to More 4, I caught up with Antony Butts' investigation into a community in Kazakhstan where one in 20 children is born with birth defects.
    It shows what is known as a House of Children, which is effectively a dumping ground for deformed offspring, discarded by parents.
    Only the most hard heart would not feel pangs of sadness at the sight of the baby with no arms and, worse still, one with half a face.
    Apparently, the disfigurements have become progressively more alarming since the nuclear tests in the late 1950s
    As one nurse says, there used to be hair lips and cleft palates but now the problems are even worse.
    But the head of a maternity hospital is angry, not just with the Soviet practices of the past, but with the mothers who live in a zone which still has high levels of radiation and, therefore, he claims, are putting babies in peril..
    He believes they should be stopped from giving birth for the benefit of future generations. He even seems to suggest the Spartan way of throwing disabled babies over a cliff was correct.
    Butts also interviews a former member of the secret Soviet health institute.
    He compiled the effects on radiation and saw how many died, and how many became ill.
    His response to whether he feels guilty is fascinating.
    And then we follow a young woman through her pregnancy. The maternity hospital head is hostile towards her because he believes her child will be disabled and virtually demands that she terminate.
    What happens next is most surprising.
    This documentary is a fine piece of work by Butts and a complete eye-opener.
    It is very short, though and, even it is whirlwind 65 minutes, does repeat the same points out of the same mouths several times.
    Nevertheless, it is worth a very comfortable 7/10.

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308. After The Apocalypse

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