Backs To The Blast

Australian Workers Film Guide


This factual documentary is a shocking and disturbing expose of uranium mining, processing and nuclear testing in the South Australian desert in the post-war 1950s. Creating a political storm when it was broadcast in Australia and Britain, it was followed by government inquires in both countries and significant reparations paid by the UK.

The film focuses on the impact of these activities and events on uranium miners at Radium Hill, workers at the ore processing facility in Port Pirie, including nearby local residents, followed by soldiers and workers involved in nuclear bomb testing at Maralinga. The criminal testing of nuclear weapons on Aboriginal lands and the horrific impact on local indigenous people is particularly heartbreaking, along with many interviews with workers, residents and soldiers talking about the ill effects on their health.

Their stories of personal destruction are juxtaposed with an interview with Sir Ernest Titterton, a government apologist involved in the supervision of nuclear testing at Maralinga. The film makes extensive use of archive footage and stills, including above and below ground mining at Radium Hill, operations at Port Pirie as well as nuclear testing operations at Maralinga. Eerie contemporary footage of these locations is also featured, often accompanied by survivors or local residents.

Special Notes/Achievements

  • Broadcast on Channel 7 in 1981. Broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK

Author: J Bird, 2023

Duration: 50 mins

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Film Cinematographer: Gus Howard, Philip Bull,

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Film Sound Recordist: Dasha Ross, Livia Rusic, Peter Barker,

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