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A CLASSIC IN A LONG LINE OF '70s CONSPIRACY THRILLERS.
on 30 June 2010
Maybe it was the impact of President Nixon and the Watergate scandal, but no decade has presented the genre of the "conspiracy thriller" as grippingly as the 1970s. Whether it be THE PARALLAX VIEW, ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN, THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR or this, THE CHINA SYNDROME, each film managed to combine really thought-provoking themes with well-choreographed helpings of buttock-clenching paranoia to leave cinema-goers satisfied.
THE CHINA SYNDROME holds the nuclear power industry to account as a potentially disastrous nuclear "event" is surreptitiously captured by news reporter Jane Fonda and her maverick cameraman Michael Douglas. Throughout the film, Jack Lemmon's by-the-book power station supervisor slowly unravels, wrestling with his conscience before deciding he must blow the whistle on the dubious tactics being employed by the power station's owners to conceal the severity of what actually happened.
It goes without saying that Fonda, Douglas and Lemmon each give fine performances, with Fonda's Kimberley Wells character also providing the platform with which to take a number of satirical swipes at the broadcast news industry and in particular its attitude towards women.
The Region One edition of THE CHINA SYNDROME is the one which the movie's British fans will want to possess as it includes an excellent two-part documentary discussing the making of the movie and its subsequent impact, particularly as the film seemed to uncannily predict the nuclear accident on Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania, which occurred a couple of weeks after the movie opened in cinemas. The docmentary includes considerable input from both Jane Fonda and Michael Douglas and their ongoing belief in the THE CHINA SYNDROME's message is undiminished more than 30 years later.
All in all this is an excellent DVD release for one of the great conspiracy thrillers of the 1970s.