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Threads

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"Threads" director Mick Jackson has it on first-hand authority that President Reagan actually watched it when it was first shown on TV in the US, and likes to imagine it may have had an influence on his subsequently less enthusiastic attitude towards provoking a nuclear confrontation.

-Thanks to Nick

More Trivia from Threads
Unquestionably one of the biggest fears of the 1980s was the threat of nuclear holocaust -- something that, although still present, has regrettably been overshadowed by other terrors.

The subject dominated the general public's imagination, conscience and debate, with speculation rife as to how many would be killed when the bombs fell, who as well as what would be hit, what adverse effects (both short and long term) there would be and so forth, while the community were issued with what was demonstrably pitiful advice as to what to do to protect themselves, their homes and their families should the worst become horrifying reality.

It was this that lead to the genesis of a number of television films that explored the concept of nuclear war and its consequences, including two that were particularly hard-hitting and uncompromising: ABC's "The Day After" and this offering from the British BBC.

"Threads" is a documentary style drama that pulls no punches in its examination of the effects of nuclear confrontation on a modern society that depends on the suprisingly fragile 'threads' of food, power, water and law and order to survive.

The film uses a central couple, late teens Jimmy Kemp and Ruth Beckett, who are ordinary working-class people from the city of Sheffield, England to tie the story down to a normal, recognisable reality.

A convincing, well thought out confrontation between the two super-powers evolves during the first acts of the film, spookily centering around the Middle East. This is inter-woven with the story of these ordinary people who are planning a family and trying to organise a home of their own.

The context is important.

We can relate to these ordinary people and their families. And thats the whole point. Whereas many productions gave us the pespective of military people in bunkers and the President and officials, films like "Threads" and "The Day After" examined in unflinching detail what would happen to society and ordinary people before, during and after what seemed, at the time, an almost inevitable apocalypse.

On the TV news, a report is being made that an American submarine has disappeared while on routine patrol off the coast of Iran. Further news broadcasts on the radio relate the Russians protesting most strongly to the Americans about "dangerous provocations" by American warships in the Gulf of Oman after the American destroyer "Callaghan" collides with the Russian crusier "Kirov."

The tension increases between the Soviet Union and NATO, just like it would in real life with TV and radio reporting the escalation, while ill prepared officials struggle with naiive emergency plans and ordinary people try to carry on their lives, build shelters and confront the impossible.

The news on television concerning the sinking of the American submarine "Los Angeles" by the Russians which is accompanied by a speech by the American president. American troops then occupy western Iran to stop the Russians from overrunning the oil-fields...

The inevitable anarchy starts to prevail, with panic buying, riots and bewilderment... And then it starts...

In Iran, the Americans launch an attack on the USSR's Mashad base, which the Russians defend with a nuclear-tipped missile, leading to the loss of many B-52s. In reprisal, the Americans drop a nuclear bomb on the base, causing the exchange to stop.

The calm before the storm. With a feeling just like 9/11, Radio & TV reports indicate that after a period of conventional confrontation, a limited nuclear exchange has happened in Iran. Frantic attempts at diplomacy seem to be mankinds last hope...

People who queue at banks to withdraw money from their accounts at automatic teller machines have their transactions refused. Under emergency decrees, govenment takes control of everything, from telephones to airports and roads.

But, after an agonising further delay it is 8:30am in Sheffield when the four minute warning is heard. Panic breaks out all over the city as people frantically look for cover before the missiles hit. Then at 8:35, a single nuclear warhead explodes high above the North Sea, disabling vehicles along with power and causing massive damage to communications across Britain in addition to north-west Europe.

At 8:37, the first missile salvo hits NATO military targets, with the first InterContinental Ballistic Missile destroying RAF Finningley Base as the planes are trying to take off.

People in nearby Sheffield scream, yell and shout in panic. Those caught outside are temporarily blinded by the flash. A man driving down the street crashes into a building. A woman standing in Sheffield Market Square urinates herself in sheer terror at the sight of the rising mushroom cloud.

We watch a family hastily put together an ill-prepared shelter made up of doors, mattresses and blankets, while officials in their seemingly safe bunker note down the locations of explosions in addition to ground bursts with their release bands so that they can determine how long people need to stay in their shelters.

Onscreen text states that 80 megatons fall on Great Britain with blast fatalities between 2.5 and 9 million.

Communications are in chaos, command and control links are failing and nuclear exchanges are intensifying as the second wave of InterContinetal Ballistic Missiles hit Britain and Sheffield is reduced to mere rubble.

Corpses burn, milk bottles melt in the heat, buildings explode and then collapse. We watch in horror as people are shockingly burned and even one of the officials is killed at his desk in the bunker by falling rubble when the blast brings down all four stories of Sheffield Town Hall on top of the bunker, which experiences a temporary blackout.

Onscreen text reveals that East-West exchange 3,000 megatons, 210 megatons of which fall on Great Britain, two-thirds of houses in Britain are in fire zones and with fallout imminent, no attempts will be made to fight the fires or rescue those either trapped by them or the debris.

You could consider this the end of act two in "Threads". At this point, the movie is somewhat unique in the genre as it continues for a third act to examine the ongoing struggle to survive by a population ultimately reduced to about 7 percent of that prior to the war.

The nuclear winter... The lack of medical facilities, basic services or food. The 'threads' that make our lives possible are gone. What will come of those unlucky enough to have survived the initial destruction..?

Unusually, you can perfectly legally watch the whole film at Google Video, by going to our links page.

Verdict?

Unquestionably one of the most authoritative films ever produced about what would really happen to modern society in the event of nuclear war, "Threads" is also certainly one of the most terrifying.

It's message about how fragile the "Threads" of our civilisation are, is just as relevent now as it was then and it should be required viewing for anybody who is concerned about modern warfare to say nothing of its effects.

It's images scorch themselves into the minds of viewers, where they shall linger on long after their viewing of the film has concluded and indeed its mightiness is such that it shall perpetually leave them with a great deal to discuss and also think about.

Notice any mistakes? Review

Strengths: Gritty, convincing storyline, persusasive special effects, good acting and sound directing.

Weaknesses? This is a long, bleak film that is arguably mildly over length. The film's graphic content and tone moreover render it out of the question for some (especially sensitive) viewers.

Our rating: 9 out of 10


Review Written by LoverswithCassie:  Contact  |  More Reviews by LoverswithCassie
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