Snake Dance

Patrick Marnham, Manu Riche

A poetic journey following the footsteps of the father of the atomic bomb Robert Oppenheimer and German anthropologist Aby Warburg, who investigated the phenomenon of primal fear.

With the invention of the atomic bomb, man has created the conditions for his own downfall. Nations have become entangled in a nuclear dance of death, driven by primal fear.
Snake Dance traces the paths of two men: the father of the bomb Robert Oppenheimer, and German anthropologist Aby Warburg, who around 1900 studied the Native American Pueblo people from Los Alamos. These people were later hired to do manual labor on the secret Manhattan Project. The visually poetic trip takes us to the deserted Los Alamos, to the uranium mines in Congo, and to Japan – itself recently struck by a new nuclear disaster. One of the most fertile pieces of land around Hiroshima has been contaminated with plutonium, rendering it useless for 170,000 years.
The anthropologist Warburg believed that the human tragedy lies in our inability to overcome our phobic reflex. We have allowed fear to rule our lives and civilisation. The two directors of this documentary apply this analysis to our post-nuclear era. They offer a personal interpretation of mankind’s disastrous decision to play God.


Patrick Marnham, Manu Riche
Manu Riche, Geneviève De Bauw
Country of production
75 minutes
Spoken language
Production company
Riche, Riche & Riche
World Sales
Andana Films