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INTO ETERNITY
A FILM FOR THE FUTURE
a 2009 documentary film
written and directed by Michael Madsen


Michael Madsen
Photo: Søren Solkær Starbird
Into Eternity   © Magic Hour Films
“Once upon a time, man learned to master fire. Something no other living creature had done before him. Man conquered the entire world. One day he found a new fire. A fire so powerful that it could never be extinguished. Man reveled in the thought that he now possessed the powers of the universe. Then in horror, he realized that his new fire could not only create but also destroy. Not only could it burn on land but inside all living creatures; inside his children, the animals, all crops. Man looked around for help, but found none. And so he built a burial chamber deep in the bowels of the earth, a hiding place for the fire to burn, into eternity.”
—Michael Madsen: Writer, Director, Narrator, Into Eternity



Contents
Overview
what is really going on here?
Credits
Cast
Music Archive
See The Film
Trailers
Further Reading

Acknowledgements
I wish to thank Michael Madsen for his generous assistance answering questions I had about the film. Thanks also to Dr. Helen Caldicott and Jasmin Williams for permission to make the annotated transcript of Dr. Caldicott's July 2011 interview with Michael Madsen and answering a question about Muckaty Station. Special thanks to Maria Gilardin for permission to create the annotated transcript of her July 2011 broadcast, for making available the text of the introduction and continuity for her broadcasts on this subject, for the means to contact Michael Madsen, and for all her time and assistance with the many questions I had. Without her help this presentation would not be possible.
David Ratcliffe


Into Eternity is a documentary on the building of the world's first permanent repository for nuclear waste in Finland. It shows not only the construction under way that will take 140 years but shows the people involved, the scientists, regulators and corporate executives who oversee this project. None of them will be alive when Onkalo, as the repository is called, will be finished in 2120; and they must expect this repository to remain intact and untouched by future humans for 100,000 years. Such is the danger and longevity of waste from nuclear power plants.
        Madsen says that Onkalo may become the most important expression of what our civilization is about. He is intrigued by the fact that, as humans have mastered the power of the universe, their discovery has outstripped human ability to understand the consequences. Even though our use of nuclear power will affect life for at least 100,000 years we are not even capable of resolving the question of how to warn future generations of the danger of the material that we are leaving them. And is it not utter madness to believe that anything built by humans could ever last 100,000 years?
Maria Gilardin, TUC Radio, introducing the re-broadcast
of Dr. Helen Caldicott's 7/15/11 interview with Michael Madsen.


Blasting deeper into the bedrock
Into Eternity   © Magic Hour Films
“I am now in this place where you should never come. We call it Onkalo. Onkalo means ‘hiding place’. In my time it is still unfinished though work began in the 20th century when I was just a child. Work would be completed in the 22nd century long after my death.
        Onkalo must last one hundred thousand years. Nothing built by man has lasted even a tenth of that time span. But we consider ourselves a very potent civilization.
        If we succeed, Onkalo will most likely be the longest lasting remains of our civilization. If you, sometime far into the future, find this, what will it tell you about us?”
—Michael Madsen: Writer, Director, Narrator, Into Eternity




what is really going on here?



Onkalo - Into Eternity
Complete, annotated transcript of Maria Gilardin's introduction to the film
broadcast on TUC Radio, 12 July 2011



The Journey Our Nuclear Waste Must Make: Into Eternity
Complete, annotated transcript of the interview with film-maker Michael Madsen,
Writer and Director of Into Eternity, conducted by Dr. Helen Caldicott
If You Love This Planet, 15 July 2011



Fukushima Into Eternity statement by Michael Madsen, March 2012




Plutonium Life Span



“Onkalo is our very first permanent repository for nuclear waste. But when Onkalo is sealed a century from now, it'll hold only a fraction of the waste we have. We must build many more Onkalos far from earthquakes and volcanoes to keep the waste away from the surface of the earth. We must build many more secret chambers that we hope to hide from you.”
—Michael Madsen: Writer, Director, Narrator, Into Eternity
Onkalo Tunnel Machine
Into Eternity   © Magic Hour Films
The problem is, of course – and this is a problem that will encompass every such a facility – is that, in Finland the arguement is that, ‘We can put it in the bedrock because the bedrock has been stable for such-and-such a long time. And therefore it will also be stable in the future.’ But it is not a scientific arguement to say that because the past looked like that, so will the future look like that.
        That's what the whole thing rests upon in Finland and in any such a repository in the world wherever they may be built. But the problem is – and it is one of the paradoxes involved in trying to handle nuclear waste responsibly towards the future generations – the problem is that we have nothing to compare with and we have no way for testing if it will work simply because the time span is so big. That is the real problem.





Credits

PRODUCTION
Director and Scriptwriter Michael Madsen
Producer Lise Lense-Møller
Editors Daniel Dencik, Stefan Sundlöf
Director of PHOTOGRAPY Heikki Färm F.S.C.
Sound Design Nicolai Linck, Øivind Weingaarde
Mix Tomas Arwe


PRODUCER
Magic Hour Films


CO-PRODUCERS
Mouka Filmi Sami Jahnukainen, Finland
ATMO Kristina Åberg & Lisa Taube, Sweden
Film i Väst Tomas Eskilsson, Sweden


CO-FINANCIERS
Minerva Film, Denmark
MASSPRODUCTION, Denmark


WITH THE SUPPORT FROM
Danish Film Institute by film commissioners Dola Bonfils and Jesper Jack
EURIMAGES
The Swedish Film Institute Lisa Ohlin
Finnish Film Foundation Elina Kivihalme
Nordic Film & TV Fund Karolina Lidin, Lise Løwholm
AVEK – The Promotional Center for Audiovisual Culture Ulla Simonen
Sonning Fonden
Politiken Fonden
Danish Film Directors
SVT Stockholm / CULTURE Hjalmar Palmgren
YLE Co-Productions Outi Saarikoski


WORLD SALES
Films Transit International Diana Holtzberg and Jan Rofekamp


ADDITIONAL
3D Corporate animations by Montaasi Media Oy


WEBSITE
intoeternitythemovie.com



Onkalo Entrance
Into Eternity   © Magic Hour Films

Helen Caldicott: I think the Americans choose a million years [for nuclear waste to be isolated from the environment] because when you think about it plutonium has a half-life of 24,400 years. Some people multiply that by 10 to get the total radiological life. But some multiply it by 20 which brings you up to half a million years. And then you see radioactive iodine-129 has a half-life of 17 million years. There are quite a few isotopes that have extremely long half-lives. So I suppose to encompass the whole gradient of radioactive elements, and as you said almost every element is made in a reactor, they would put the number at a million. But it would be interesting, wouldn't it Michael, to research why the Americans have chosen a million years.

Michael Madsen:   

Yes, but when I asked the scientists in Finland I received two kinds of answers within the same company. The communication manager said, ‘Michael, you have to understand that high level nuclear waste becomes less and less toxic because of the half-life. So really Michael it's all the time diminishing the problem, from day to day.’

Then the head expert of the long-term safety [group] said, ‘Michael, I do not agree with this way of talking about high level nuclear waste because essentially, when we are talking about these time spans, it is forever. In the human time scale it's forever.’ . . . To talk about a hundred thousand years or a million years doesn't really make sense. What we have to think about is that it is about a hundred thousand years [ago] that homo sapiens left Africa for the first time. That is what we're talking about.




Cast


Michael Madsen
Into Eternity   © Magic Hour Films
MICHAEL MADSEN
FILM DIRECTOR
   “We recognize that this could happen. That you might find and open Onkalo. We refer to that as human intrusion. We don't want this to happen because you may get hurt. But most of all we are afraid of human intrusion because if Onkalo is opened the waste will no longer be isolated from all living organisms and we will have failed. In fact, we consider you the main threat to the safety of Onkalo.”

“When the burial chamber was complete, man laid his new fire to rest and tried to forget about it. For he knew that only through oblivion would he be free from it. But then he started to worry that his children might find the burial chamber and awaken the fire from its sleep. So he bade his children to tell their children, and their children's children too, to remember forever to consign the burial chamber to oblivion. To remember forever to forget. ”

Timo Aikas
Into Eternity   © Magic Hour Films
TIMO ÄIKÄS
EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, ENGINEERING
ONKALO, POSIVA OY, FINLAND
  

“I think that more and more societies in countries who are using nuclear power are realizing that they also have to do something.”

Q: “If you were a person who were evaluating this concept from the outside, what would you be afraid of?”
TÄ: [Pause] “Nothing.”

Q: “What if someone finds the repository? How should they know what it is?”
TÄ: “They should have some measuring tools to measure the radiation.”
Q: “What if they don't have that?”
TÄ: “Well then they have to make a chemical analysis [nervous laugh].”
Q: “What if they can't do that?”
TÄ: “Well if they cannot do that they cannot do the drilling either.”

“The design and the construction and implementation has to be done so that no knowledge is necessary for the future. So that it can be safe also in that case that people would have lost the knowledge.”


Timo Seppala
Into Eternity   © Magic Hour Films
TIMO SEPPÄLÄ
SENIOR MANAGER, COMMUNICATIONS
ONKALO, POSIVA OY, FINLAND

   Q: “How much waste exists in the world today, totally?&rdquo:
TS: “I'm not quite aware. I would say between 200,000 and 300,000 tonnes. Somewhere between these two.&rdquo:

“We have come to a conclusion that the bedrock, the Finnish bedrock, 1.8 billion years old, is the medium that we can predict, far to the future, at least 100,000 years ahead.&rdquo:

“Final disposal of spent nuclear fuel hasn't been implemented anywhere so far. We are kind of forerunners in this field. And we are dealing with very, very long time frames. Meaning that this repository should last at least 100,000 years.”

“My personal belief is that no human intrusion will take place at any time scale, ever.”

Juhani Vira
Into Eternity   © Magic Hour Films
JUHANI VIRA
SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, RESEARCH
ONKALO, POSIVA OY, FINLAND

   Q: “[STUK is required to pass on the information about the repository] In a permanent manner, that's the exact phrasing. What do you think they mean by that?”
JV: “Yes, I think you should ask them. Because we've just talked about the problems of that. Permanent is too strong a word to be used here.”

“We are trying to do Onkalo as independent of human nature as possible because we can't predict exactly how the humans will behave in the future. ”

Esko Ruokola
Into Eternity   © Magic Hour Films
ESKO RUOKOLA
PRINCIPAL ADVISER, NUCLEAR WASTE
AND MATERIAL REGULATION
RADIATION AND NUCLEAR SAFETY AUTHORITY, FINLAND

   “Some of the main principles included in the legislation are: Firstly, the limitation of burdens on future generations. . . . Second principle is protection of future generations. That means that safety level it should be afforded for future generations to not be lower than it is so currently. And then Third principle is that we should pass information about the repository to future generations.”

Q: “So the idea is that the archive of today should last for a certain period but then be renewed by the next generation.”
ER: “Yes. Each generation should consider it, [that] the archiving method is appropriate for the future.”
Q: “Do you think this will happen?”
ER: “Yah I hope so, at least [nervous laugh]”


Wendla Paile
Into Eternity   © Magic Hour Films
WENDLA PAILE
CHIEF RADIOLOGIST,
HEALTH EFFECTS OF RADIATION
RADIATION AND NUCLEAR SAFETY AUTHORITY, FINLAND

   “A hundred years ago, just three human generations ago when radiation was first discovered, we didn't understand that it was very dangerous. But we noticed that it can be useful and we started to work with it. Radiation is a sort of energy which can penetrate deep into your body and harm your health. But it is an invisible danger. We have no sense for it. You cannot see it, feel it, or smell it. And still it may even kill you. Radiation then can be described as small packages of energy and when they hit the genetic code, the DNA molecule, they can break it, split it. . . . Radiation can also leave a trace in you. It can change the genes, mutate the genes. It will cause malformation or disease or dysfunction.”


Mikael Jensen
Into Eternity   © Magic Hour Films
MIKAEL JENSEN
  

“We must realize that the future scenarios are not just about high tech or very low tech, like a stone-age scenario. We have scenarios in the middle where people may drill but they may not understand, they may not have the technology to understand what they meet.”

“You have the scenario of the hidden treasure. You have the idea that something is there and it is valuable and people would start to dig for it. You could even have the scenario where people even know it is dangerous but it is also valuable at the same time.”

Q: “And what about the people who work with these things?” [1]
MJ: “They get the ‘scientific disease’ so to say. It's all routine for them. They have the task.”
Q: “I don't really understand it, I think.”
MJ: “No I don't think anybody does.”

“When you do a project like this, you must state what you know, and you must state that you know what you know that you don't know, and also what you don't know that you don't know.”



Berit Lundqvist
Into Eternity   © Magic Hour Films
BERIT LUNDQVIST
   “I think if someone found a facility like that [Onkalo] in the future they might interpret it as something religious: a burial ground. Or a treasure.”

BL: “I'm not so sure that nuclear energy is the solution. Maybe in the short time (this is my personal view too); I don't think it's sustainable in the long run. But maybe for the next decades, century.”
Q: “Why do you think so?”
BL: “Because we won't have enough uranium. It will be just like the oil.”


Peter Wikberg
Into Eternity   © Magic Hour Films
PETER WIKBERG
   “We would never be able to claim that we can safely put something into the bottom of the oceans. Because still we have an impression that the oceans are really the mother of all life. It is not a safe way of handling spent nuclear fuel or radioactive waste.”

“What we must do, is to take care of the waste from the nuclear power plants.”

“That's what we really want to prove: that we can isolate the waste from human beings and other life organisms for 100,000 years.”

“We obtained the energy. We have used the energy. Of course it's our mission to also take care of the waste.”

“Keeping the waste in tanks is probably possible for the next 10 years, 20 years, 100 years, 1,000 years.”


Carl Reinhold Brakenhielm
Into Eternity   © Magic Hour Films
CARL REINHOLD BRÅKENHIELM
   “This is something which ought to be the responsibility of all citizens, irrespective of whether they like nuclear power or not. Linking the issue of nuclear waste with nuclear power could easily divert attention from the material which we have and must somehow handle in a responsible way: not to harm future generations.”

“And the Roman Empire was born, lived, prospered, and died. And similarly also the West will go through the same kind of phases: being born, flourishing, developing, crumbling, and dying. What do we know about society in 300 years? Virtually impossible to say anything. We might expect society as we know it to exist for 50 years more, or for a hundred years. And if you are convinced of what will happen then, lets put the question on a 300 years, 500 years time. Then the darkness thickens.“


Sami Savonrinne
Into Eternity   © Magic Hour Films
SAMI SAVONRINNE,
BLASTER, ONKALO, FINLAND
   Q: “Where are you now on the plan?”
SS: “Should be here somewhere.” [pointing to a map diagram]
SS: “Then we start widening this area. More and more and more bigger area come.”
Q: “Like in a big cave or ... ”
SS: “Yeah. An unimaginable big cave. It's like a big city underground.”



unlimited energy
Into Eternity   © Magic Hour Films
“My civilization depends on energy as no civilization before us. Energy is the main currency for us. Is it the same for you? Does your way of life also depend on unlimited energy?”
—Michael Madsen: Writer, Director, Narrator, Into Eternity



Music Archive

“WENDLA”
(KARSTEN FUNDAL)
PERFORMED BY KARSTEN FUNDAL
EDITION WILHELM HANSEN
© 2009 KARSTEN FUNDAL

“RADIOACTIVITY”
(HUTTER, SCHNEIDER, SCHULT)
PERFORMED BY KRAFTWERK
SONY / ATV MUSIC PUBLISHING SCANDINAVIA
© 1975 EMI

“VALSE TRISTE OP. 44, NO. 1”
(JEAN SIBELIUS)
PERFORMED BY GOTHENBURG SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA & NEEME JÄRVI
EDITION WILHELM HANSEN
© 2005 DG

“METAMORPHOSIS, NO 2”
(PHILIP GLASS)
PERFORMED BY PHILIP GLASS
EDITION WILHELM HANSEN
© ORANGE MOUNTAIN MUSIC

“DOUZE ETUDES TRANCENDENTALES, IX”
(WILHELM KILLMAYER)
PERFORMED BY SIEGFRIED MAUSER
UNISCHOTT SCANDINAVIA
© WERGO

“LAMENTE FOR PIANO AND ORCHESTRA”
(ARVO PÄRT)
ALEXEI LUBIMOV, ANDREY BOREYKO & SWR STUTTGART RADIO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
UNISCHOTT SCANDINAVIA
© 2005 EMI

“ANNUM PER ANNUM”
(ARVO PÄRT)
PERFORMED BY HANS-OLA ERICSSON
UNICSHOTT SCANDINAVIA
© 2007 BIS

“ENDING”
(KARSTEN FUNDAL)
PERFORMED BY KARSTEN FUNDAL
EDITION WILHELM HANSEN
© 2009 KARSTEN FUNDAL

“UN GRAND SOMMEIL NOIR”
(EDGARD VARÈSE)
RICCARDO CHAILLY & ROYAL CONCERTGEBOUW ORCHESTRA
UNIVERSAL MUSIC PUBLISHING
© 2007 DECCA


Final Scene with Un Grand Sommeil Noir playing
Into Eternity   © Magic Hour Films
“A hundred thousand years is beyond our understanding and imagination. Our history is so short in comparison. How is it with you? How far into the future will your way of life have consequences?”
—Michael Madsen: Writer, Director, Narrator, Into Eternity





See The Film

You can purchase a DVD copy of the film Into Eternity for US $29.50 from Specialty Studios by going to: https://www.semkhor.com/dept.asp?s=specialtystudios&dept_id=23697

and

Outside the U.S. you can stream Into Eternity for 5 Euros at: http://www.balticuniverse.com/en/packages/view/package-82.

and

Into Eternity (with French Subtitles) is viewable on YouTube in 6 segments:
nuclear waste in interim storage water pool
Into Eternity   © Magic Hour Films
As I always say about this film, nuclear energy stands on the shoulders of almost all the scientific knowledge that we have about the universe. It is really the powers of the universe that we are harvesting.
        So much knowledge is fused together in this technology. In that sense it's the hallmark of human civilization. But the flip side is the waste which has this time span built in to it which I believe is beyond what we can really understand.
        So on the one hand it's based on deep understanding in a scientific respect. But it also has this very, very difficult time span for us even to relate to.
        Then if we cannot relate to it – if we cannot understand it or grasp it – it's suddenly impossible to act responsibly.





Further Reading

Interviews / Articles about the subject of Into Eternity
Inside Onkalo  energy
Into Eternity   © Magic Hour Films
“Our law states that we must inform you about Onkalo. Maybe you will need to enter if we overlooked something or if repairs are required. Were our calculations and assumptions accurate? Did we make mistakes? Is that why you are here?”
—Michael Madsen: Writer, Director, Narrator, Into Eternity


Articles / Information about Onkalo
Projects Michael Madsen has been/is engaged in since making Into Eternity:
  • Film maker Michael Madsen joins the Unknown Fields Summer 2011 Trajectory from Chernobyl to Baikonur Cosmodrome
  • Unknown Fields Division Part I:
    Chernobyl Exclusion Zone An architecture report from Pripyat,
    by Nelly Ben Hayoun, Domus, 3 August 2011
    An international, multidisciplinary team of researchers visits the zones where the myths of the near future are manufactured
  • Unknown Fields Division Part III:
    Baikonur Cosmodrome - An architecture report from Baikonur,
    by Nelly Ben Hayoun, Domus, 10 August 2011
    On hand for the launch of a space telescope, the UFD team completes its mission to technologically altered landscapes at the Baikonur Cosmodrome
  • Knock Knock
    10 November 2011, Danish Film Institute
    IDFA FORUM 2011. “A cosmic documentary comedy” is the tagline for Michael Madsen's next big film project “The Visit” which takes a close look at how we humans would react if – or when – we are approached by intelligent life from outer space. According to the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs the very first step in an alien emergency plan would be, quite simply, a phone call: “They have arrived.”
  • Visitors From Outer Space
    21 November 2011 | By Annemarie Hørsman | Danish Film Institute
    INTERVIEW. How would we react if we were visited by aliens? Michael Madsen, who is delighted to see his award winning documentary “Into Eternity” moving into real political power forums, continues his speculative reflections in his next project which tests our imagination with a story of humanity’s encounter with alien intelligent life.
    “I got an email from my American distributor saying that Into Eternity was on Hillary Clinton's desk. It's interesting to me that the film is starting to move into real power circles. That's necessary, of course, for anything to happen,” Madsen says. “The film lives as a phenomenon out there, and I find that real-life dimension exciting.”


Film ending in the cave
Into Eternity   © Magic Hour Films
“You have now gone deeper into the tunnel and you have reached a place where you should never have come. Down here radiation is everywhere. You do not know it. But something is happening to your body right now. It is beyond your senses. You feel nothing. You smell nothing. An invisible light is shining right through you. It is the last glow of my civilization that harvested the powers of the universe.”
—Michael Madsen: Writer, Director, Narrator, Into Eternity



Notes
  1. I asked Michael Madsen what he meant by “these things“ in the above question to Mikael Jensen and he responded:
    “These things refers to the general questions in the film and Mikael responds to the problem scientists face in terms of being so deeply into their material that they cannot really see it properly anymore. It is also what I elsewhere have been talking about, that the self understanding of a worldview based on scientific thinking in a way cannot entertain the idea that a problem cannot be solved: it just needs more understanding – and so, eventually ...”




spent nuclear fuel in interim storage water pools
Into Eternity   © Magic Hour Films
“We already have enormous amounts of nuclear waste all over the world. If this waste spills out into nature it'll cause death and destruction. Large areas will become uninhabitable for a long, long time. Did that happen? Are there forbidden zones with no life in your time?”
—Michael Madsen: Writer, Director, Narrator, Into Eternity





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