In 1953 a Hollywood-based U.S. Air Force film studio, Lookout Mountain Laboratory, produced a documentary film about America’s first detonation of a thermonuclear device, the 1952 “MIKE” device. The film, called Operation Ivy, was initially shown only to the highest-level government officials, but a later, edited version was eventually released for public distribution. We argue that the story of Operation Ivy illuminates not only the ways in which the rhetoric of the “Super” was managed but also the way in which the Cold War state was both subject to and productive of political and aesthetic sensibilities.

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