Chemical warfare constitutes one of the ugliest and most fearful threats of our modern world. But the means to produce mass casualties through the use of poisonous substances has been a reality for many generations. The Red Line traces the history of chemical weaponry from the battlefields of World War I to our present day war on terror.
Insidious poisonings had long been a tactic of attack among political rivals, but chemical weapons didn't take center stage until 1915. That's when Fritz Haber, a Nobel prize winning chemist, was tasked with putting an end to the trench warfare that had claimed many German lives during the First World War. His solution came in the form of chlorine bombs. Once employed, these bombs could annihilate up to 5000 troops in minutes, and many more in the lingering and painful wake of exposure. A new era of industrialized warfare was born.
These despicable weapons evoked fear and disgust amongst nations and the public at large, and were later banned for use as killing agents by the Geneva Protocol of 1925. However, several nations continued to experiment with various forms of nerve gas - including VX, mustard and sarin - and worked to circumvent this international agreement. For example, Agent Orange was initially employed in southeast Asia for its effectiveness in clearing dense jungle foliage during the Vietnam War. Its long-term impact on humans was either not taken into account or viewed as an acceptable repercussion.
While the world leaders of today continue to look upon these weapons as a vile alternative to traditional combat, they continue to pose a massive threat to a growing number of military and civilian populations. For the most bloodthirsty of terrorist organizations, they facilitate a position of extreme influence and strength. Even civilized nations and governments look upon them as a bargaining chip of sorts. They know that by possessing these weapons, they have the power to either thwart the escalation of conflict or create a level of death and destruction unseen in human history.
Clocking in at just under two hours, The Red Line is an exhaustive investigation into the history of chemical weaponry, and a sobering portrait of the inhumanity of war.
Directed by: Graham Templeton