Jeffrey LewisFireworks

On the 4th of July, I thought I would share my idea of fireworks.

And, while I am at it, my idea of Operation Ivy.

Happy Independence Day!


  1. BJR (History)

    Tried to find my own tonight at the US Embassy by the Brandenburg Gate, canceled due to rain.

  2. Andrew Tubbiolo (History)

    I watched the whole thing. I loved the change in shirts, or editing order during the countdown to detonation and the sweat stains on the hosts shirt. For a classified film meant for those in the community I was surprised at the waxing philosophical of the host and pilots. Also during the final scene where the host is walking down the beach I could not help but think of the ending to the “Planet of the Apes”. “You maniacs! You blew it all to hell!”. … When was this film declassified? I wonder if there was inspiration there. Either way, thanks for posting this.

    • Alex W. (History)

      The “Operation Ivy” film was downgraded to “Official Use Only” as early as 1953, and it was broadcast fairly widely. It was made very much with the idea that it might be shared with a wider public once certain information (exact yield, images of the bomb, the fact that the Mike device was not deliverable, etc.) were removed.

      By 1953 an account of a version of the film had appeared in Fortune magazine, and the AEC thought this was as good a time as any to create a less sensitive version of it, first to show at a Mayor’s conference, then released more widely.

      In an Atomic Energy Commission memo from the time (AEC 483/47, December 8, 1953), the Director of Classification and the Director of Information Service came to a conclusion about releasing the film (which had just appeared in Fortune) that has some relevance today in our day of leaks: “Resisting the pressure for public showing of a declassified film will place the AEC in the position of withholding material which will not affect the common defense and security, according to its own official determination, and which is of absorbing interest to the American public.”

      The (reasonably) full version of the film linked to above was not fully declassified until the 1990s, I believe.

    • Rizwan (History)

      Dr. Wellerstein — we can always count on you to provide the historical context. Brilliant, and thank you.

    • Kevin H. (History)

      According to one report, Operation Ivy was commissioned as a “Hollywood style” production even when it was only intended for viewing by Eisenhower and the Cabinet! Apparently the idea to make differently-classified versions dawned on the group only after first viewing. Eventually there were multiple versions released – few have seen the original film in its entirety, however. For a “lay” intro to our work on these films:

  3. SMB (History)

    Looked at Eniwetok using Google maps. The area around the crater(s) is much lower resolution than the rest of the atoll. Are there still things worth hiding out there?

  4. kevin (History)

    Outstanding. A remarkable number of declassified test films reside on You-Tube, many quite lengthy (e.g., not just rehashed clip shows), the best of which is the Operation IVY film shown here, IMHO.

    • Janne (History)

      The longer film is apparently embedded from, where a whole lot of interesting videos and other media are available for public consumption and downloading.


    • kevin (History)

      Janne – thanks for the reference.

    • Alex W. (History)

      A few years ago, a TV studio spent the money to get copies of all of the test films offered by the the DOE Nevada Site Office ( and put them all on YouTube. They are listed as “Declassified U.S. Nuclear Test Film #XX” where XX ranges from 01 to 72. There’s a nice gallery of them at

      My favorite is undoubtedly #01, the Trinity test. Go and watch it again, from start to end. What’s striking is that this is footage we’ve all seen a thousand time by now, with various voiceovers, cuts, and sound effects. But it’s the most haunting in its original silent form, when the camera just lingers on the Gadget, and the whole thing seems to drag out forever.

      (Can you tell I wrote a paper in grad school on this particular film and how it has been used in various documentaries? I’ll cop to the charge.)

  5. bobbymike (History)

    Ah the good old days building big bombs and the missiles, subs and bombers to carry them.