The China Syndrome

Watch The China Syndrome

"Sometimes it’s too late to tell the truth."
  • PG
  • 1979
  • 2 hr 2 min
  • 7.4  (32,313)
  • 81

The China Syndrome is a classic film from 1979, directed by James Bridges and starring Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon, and Michael Douglas. The movie explores the dangers of nuclear power plants and the potential of a catastrophic meltdown. This film came out just before the Three Mile Island accident, which happened in 1979, and the movie's storyline is eerily similar to what happened in real life.

The story follows a television reporter, Kimberly Wells (Jane Fonda), who is doing a human-interest story on a nuclear power plant in California, along with her cameraman, Richard Adams (Michael Douglas). During a routine tour of the plant, they witness what appears to be a minor incident, leading them to investigate and dig deeper into the facility's issues. Jack Lemmon plays Jack Godell, a nuclear physicist who works at the plant and becomes an ally in their investigation.

As the trio continues their investigation, they uncover multiple issues that raise concerns about the plant's safety. Fonda's character discovers faulty gauges that could mislead plant workers about the reactor's status, while Lemmon's character discovers that a potentially catastrophic event occurred in the past, which was covered up by the plant's management. Douglas's character provides the support and expertise needed to help push through the story to its unpredictable conclusion.

The China Syndrome keeps its viewers on the edge of their seats with its suspenseful plot and unraveling storyline. It has a strong anti-nuclear message, but it is more about the dangers of corporate greed and the willingness to compromise safety in the name of profits.

The performances in the film are outstanding, with Jane Fonda at the forefront delivering a powerful portrayal highlighting the importance of journalistic integrity. Jack Lemmon's character, Jack Godell, is relatable, and viewers connect with his internal struggle as he attempts to balance doing what's right with his loyalty to his job and employer. Michael Douglas fits the role of the expert guide perfectly, as he adds depth to the script, which makes it more understandable and engaging.

The film's cinematography should be highlighted as well. The use of authentic locations to represent the on-site nuclear power plant and the use of real-life stock footage of plants and machines add authenticity to the story, making it more relatable to its audience.

The movie received four nominations at the Academy Awards, with Jane Fonda earning the nod for best actress in a leading role. While it was not a box office smash, the film generated considerable buzz and sparked discussions around the safety of nuclear energy. Its impact was significant enough that the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) changed its regulations concerning whistleblowers, partly due to the film's influent.

Overall, The China Syndrome is a classic film that provides a gripping portrayal of the importance of investigative journalism, the pitfalls of corporate greed, and the consequences of mishandling dangerous technology. The themes it explores are as valid today as they were in 1979, making it a must-watch for anyone interested in understanding the intersections between industry, media, and technology.

The China Syndrome is a 1979 drama with a runtime of 2 hours and 2 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.4 and a MetaScore of 81.

The China Syndrome
Where to Watch The China Syndrome
The China Syndrome is available to watch, stream, download and buy on demand at Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube VOD and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent The China Syndrome for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    2 hr 2 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.4  (32,313)
  • Metascore