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Black Ocean

Between 1966 and 1995, France conducted more than 170 nuclear tests over the Pacific Ocean. The training and daily tasks aboard a French naval vessel in 1972 provide a rhythm to days that would otherwise drift into one another. Three teenage sailors perform forced push-ups in full gas masks amidst the sweltering heat. The commander is cruel and the boys’ only solace is in caring for the ship’s pet dog. Despite their blossoming friendships, the boys are unable to share what they have most in common – a sense of unshakable solitude. Even when they stop for shore leave at destinations of tropical paradise, the fun is bracketed by an insidious foreboding of things to come. As they watch the mushroom cloud of a nuclear explosion rise up in the distance over the ocean, they are completely ill equipped to grasp its significance. With solemn beauty, this film observes the social orders men set for themselves when separated from society, and the codes of killing and friendship that guide men in uniform. This is an idyll with a dark heart.

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