Can You Imagine a Nuclear War?
Until recently I thought I could. I changed my view after watching Threads. Threads is an unusual movie depicting the horrors of nuclear war and its long-term consequences on the human civilization. Even though it was made 24 years ago, it is still capable of arousing nightmares.
The movie can be divided into two parts. In the beginning we follow ordinary fates of two British families living in Sheffield (UK). In the background of the storyline there start to appear notions of an escalating tension between the Soviet Union and the U.S. The cause of the dispute is a Soviet invasion in the Middle East. The anxiety gradually increases and Britain starts preparing for the possibility of war. The crisis eventually reaches its climax and air is plowed with ICBM missiles carrying nuclear warheads.
The second and more intensive part begins when mushroom-like clouds appear over Sheffield. Many people die at once, of course. However, the following narrative makes you believe that immediate death was the better option… The survivors face a world without electricity, drinkable water, public services, hospitals. Supplies are scarce and looting takes place very soon. Death caused by exhaustion or fallout is a common thing. People fight for food and shelter.
The movie owes its dramatic effect mainly to its unusual form – it is documentary-like. The storyline is interspersed with indifferent announcements about the effects of radiation and the expected development of a post-nuclear world. No music is used; in some scenes the silence sends chill down your spine. Many things remain unspoken and it is up to the viewer to realize all the implications. The ingenuity of the authors is sometimes very cruel.
A scene worth mentioning is the one where a ragged man sells dead rats in front of a large advertisement for life insurance. You suddenly don’t know if you should laugh or cry at the words life insurance…
Threads impressed me very strongly. It was a shocking experience but it made me think a lot.