The China Syndrome (1979)

PG   |    |  Drama, Thriller


The China Syndrome (1979) Poster

A reporter finds what appears to be a cover-up of safety hazards at a nuclear power plant.

TIP
Add this title to your Watchlist
Save movies and shows to keep track of what you want to watch.

7.4/10
24,137

Photos

  • The China Syndrome (1979)
  • Michael Douglas and Jane Fonda in The China Syndrome (1979)
  • Jack Lemmon in The China Syndrome (1979)
  • Michael Douglas and Jane Fonda in The China Syndrome (1979)
  • Michael Douglas in The China Syndrome (1979)
  • Jack Lemmon in The China Syndrome (1979)

See all photos

More of What You Love

Find what you're looking for even quicker with the IMDb app on your smartphone or tablet.

Get the IMDb app

Reviews & Commentary

Add a Review


User Reviews


15 May 2002 | moveefrk
A chilling, reality-based, horror film.
"The China Syndrome" is perhaps the first horror film that is not necessarily following the rules of the genre. It takes place in the contemporary '70's, and features people in the normal profession of broadcast television news. But, when a news story about the leakage of nuclear energy breaks; let's just say - there is your monster.

Jane Fonda is absolutely superb as Kimberley Wells, an ambitious Los Angeles reporter relegated only to fluff pieces by her sexist boss (Peter Donat). She wants something juicier, and gets it, in the form of an accident at a nuclear power plant facilitated by Jack Godell (Jack Lemmon with expressions too numerous to count). Her hippie radical cameraman (Michael Douglas, who also produced) photographs the incident without the plant's knowledge and they both agree that public safety is a valid story. The network brass doesn't think so, and soon both Fonda and Douglas are entangled in a web of legalities concerning the tape.

The crux of the film is Lemmon's character. A man torn between loyalty to his company and telling the truth - even in the face of grave consequences. What makes this horror scenario so compelling is that these are true flesh-and-blood people stuck in the most extraordinary of circumstances faced with both a threat of cosmic proportions as well as a human one.

This is a remarkably chilling thriller, and I'm disappointed that it's not taken more seriously (as both art and tract).

Metacritic Reviews


Critic Reviews



Did You Know?

Trivia

Producer Michael Douglas spent the better part of a year having the film's screenplay properly developed with the film's three writers.


Quotes

Dr. Lowell: It looks serious. In the control room, these lights are concerned with core water level. They might have come close to exposing the core. If that's true, we came very close to the China Syndrome.
Kimberly Wells: The what?
Dr. Lowell: If the core is exposed, the fuel heats up ...


Goofs

In the United States, there are two main types of commercial power reactors: PWR (Pressurized Water Reactor) and BWR (Boiling Water Reactor). In the scene where Gibson is explaining the basic workings of the plant to Kimberly Wells, the diagram on the board shows the former type, PWR. This is shown by the two loop system in which the water is pumped through the reactor under high pressure to prevent boiling, and then through a steam generator, or boiler, to create steam for the turbine using clean secondary water. In subsequent scenes, the dialog of the characters in the control room seems to suggest that they are dealing with a BWR system, where water is allowed to boil in the reactor vessel and steam is directly piped to the turbine, with no steam generator. Godell is concerned by the high water level in the reactor reaching the steam lines, of which there are none on a PWR reactor vessel. Once Goddell and the operators realize the water level is low, character dialogue references Auxilary Feedwater which is a PWR system. As well, in the action hearing later, the investigator talks about how the operators began cutting off feedwater and releasing steam in order to lower the reactor water level, which would only happen on a BWR.


Crazy Credits

The end credits run in total silence.


Soundtracks

Somewhere In Between
by
Stephen Bishop

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Drama | Thriller

The 'Someone Great' Stars Plead Guilty to Movie Clichés

"The IMDb Show" sits down with the stars of Someone Great to find out if they are guilty or not guilty of some of our favorite breakup movie tropes.

Watch now

Featured on IMDb

Check out our guide to superheroes, horror movies, and more.

Around The Web

 | 

Powered by ZergNet

More To Explore

Search on Amazon.com