Narrative film played a vital role in the official political culture of Cold War science and technology, beginning with the spectacular big science venture, the nuclear weapons program. The Special Film Projects narrated particular nuclear events or concepts, providing scripted and often scored documentary overviews of new techniques and technologies or of particular military operations. This chapter overviews Lookout Mountain Laboratory's (LML) work and output, beginning broadly but progressively narrowing our inquiry to the point of examining a single project. Of all United States Air Force (USAF) photographic units, LML was closest in proximity to Continental and Pacific atomic testing grounds. A serial analysis of the LML corpus would reveal that dilemmas like the ones LML faced with Operation Ivy were the norm rather than the exception. The chapter considers what Science, Technology, and Society Studies (STS) teach people with respect to the processes that gave rise to these technologies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationA Companion to the War Film
EditorsDouglas A Cunningham, John C Nelson
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781118337653
ISBN (Print)9781118288894
StatePublished - Apr 15 2016


  • Cold War
  • Lookout Mountain Laboratory
  • Nuclear weapons program
  • Operation Ivy
  • Science, technology and social studies
  • Special film projects
  • United States Air Force

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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