Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media



The Politics of Independence: The China Syndrome (1979), Hollywood Liberals and Antinuclear Campaigning

Peter Krämer


Abstract: This article draws, among other things, on press clippings files and scripts found in various archives to reconstruct the complex production history, the marketing and the critical reception of the nuclear thriller The China Syndrome (1979). It shows that with this project, several politically motivated filmmakers, most notably Jane Fonda, who starred in the film and whose company IPC Films produced it, managed to inject their antinuclear stance into Hollywood entertainment. Helped by the accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant two weeks into the film’s release, The China Syndrome gained a high profile in public debates about nuclear energy in the U.S. Jane Fonda, together with her then husband Tom Hayden, a founding member of the 1960s “New Left” who had entered mainstream politics in the California Democratic Party by the late 1970s, complemented her involvement in the film with activities aimed at grass roots mobilisation against nuclear power.


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ISSN 2009-4078

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