Monday, November 15, 2010


"It must have sounded like a good job at the time, painting luminous numbers onto the faces of clocks. In old photographs, the teen-age girls who worked at the Radium Dial Company's factory in Ottawa, Ill., during the 1920's look happy, and they also look prosperous, since the pay was high. The work was even challenging, since it took skill to fill in the outlined numbers properly. The better to master this intricately detailed painting, the workers were encouraged to lick their brushes.
The consequences were dreadful and, as documented by Carole Langer in ''Radium City,'' as far-reaching as the wildest nightmare. Many of the women developed radium-related cancer and of these, most died young; Miss Langer establishes that quickly because it is, in a terrible way, the very least of Ottawa's troubles. Or in any case just the beginning, for Miss Langer's film tells a tale that gets worse at every turn. ''Radium City'' outlines the complex aftermath of these events with as full an awareness of social and political consequences as medical ones. What emerges is as chilling a real-life horror story as anyone could imagine." -Exerpt from NYT Review

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