Into Eternity

A delve into deep time through the lens of one of my favorite films

There are some movies that continue to work on your mind long after the credits have rolled. For me Into Eternity: A Film for the Future by writer / director Michael Madsen is one such movie.

What do you do with waste from Nuclear reactors that will remain deadly to all life for 100,000 years? It’s a great swathe of time, unimaginable to most, that spans more than ten times the length of our entire history.

Into Eternity takes us down into the huge pit that is Finlands answer to this question. Onkalo (Finish for “hiding place”) is a massive century-long engineering project that is designed to entomb the waste, 500m down in the bedrock.

The film’s narrative speaks to those in the future who may have disturbed the repository. “We need you to know. That this place should not be disturbed. That you should stay away from this place. Then you will be safe.

But how would you communicate with an unknown person, possibly thousands of year in the future? You could leave markers that try to explain the danger, that use pictograms rather than any written language forms. But how do you insure that you’ll be understood, that this person won’t see religious significance in this place, or think that there is a treasure to be found here?

Maybe the best thing to do is to leave nothing, fill-in the hole you’ve made and let nature reclaim the surface. Maybe forgetting is the best way to protect the future.

I strongly encourage you to seek out this beautifully hunting documentary.