Film of the Week – CERN or The Factory for the Absolute

In connection with the recent catastrophe in Fukushima, Japan, the questions as to what degree people are able to predict the possible impact of their actions as well as how fragile the balance between safe and dangerous application of the results of scientific research can be, have become relevant again. As a contribution to the debate, the DocAllianceFilms portal offers the documentary film CERN or The Factory for the Absolute about the world‘s largest particle accelerator made by young director Jan V. Sacher. The film is available from May 23 at

The greatest discovery of mankind, transcending the state of human consciousness; the last great project of the scientific age. This is how the scientists describe their expectations as to the launch of the large hadron collider on the Swiss-French border. However, another one of them immediately paraphrases Goethe’s ballad Sorcerer’s Apprentice, wondering: “What shall I do with the spirits that I called?" This also becomes the central question of the film by Jan V. Sacher, though asked with caution. The unpredictable situations and the danger of the irretrievability of the launched experiments represent the potential shadow of all the optimistic statements presented throughout the film by world’s foremost scientists, frequently Nobel Prize holders. The director himself says that during shooting, he was most fascinated by the enthusiasm of people who want to learn something new, which is based on their conviction that people have the right to research anything they are able to. However, their enthusiasm doesn’t leave much room for questions such as how dark the impact of the discovery of the dark matter could be.
Follows the period before the launch of the collider, the observational film gives plentiful space to the reflections of the scientists as well as the description of the CERN organization and facilities. The documentary also presents the opinion of several citizens of Geneva and primarily of Stephen Hawking, a sort of a highest authority framing the film at the beginning and end. Besides the accounts in front of the camera and detailed shots of the technical facilities, the film also employs archive footage and 3D animation. Last but not least, it is important to point out that the film makes good use of the popular-scientific genre. Though the large hadron collider might seem like a phenomenon taken out of a rather bizarre sci-fi novel, Jan V. Sacher has managed to present the central theme to the spectators so that even a basic knowledge of physics will do.


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