Retrospective Film Review: Michael Madsen’s Into Eternity

Into Eternity, Michael Madsen’s (no not him) reverential paean to Finland’s long-sighted plan for the storage of nuclear waste from their 2 power-plants is a reminder of how chillingly meditative documentaries can be when they’re not constantly assaulting the viewer with schizophrenic animations of endless figures and statistics.

This is about as existential as filmmaking gets, as scientists, historians and theologians try to convey a message of warning to future generations 100,000 years into the future, the life of the decaying uranium, not to attempt any kind of excavation into the underground metropolis that houses the fire within. The film intercuts various boffiny talking heads, determined yet completely humbled by the magnitude of the task before them, with dreamlike dollyed shots of Onkalo, the waste repository itself, a vast concrete leviathan hewn from the Earth’s bedrock.

It’s a little shocking and beggars belief that countries like the US (top of the list with 105 power-plants) have no solution in place for the long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel. But this is far from an evangelical cry for us humans to change our ways, in fact in many ways the message seems to be that current humanity is but a mere speck on the grand canvas of our planet’s future history. Haunting and quite, quite unforgettable.