A firestorm of controversy erupted before the film even aired over the issue of who attacked first: the U.S.S.R. or the United States. Nicholas Meyer
wanted the answer to remain ambiguous so as to focus on the horrors of nuclear destruction, rather than to create an "good versus evil" mentality; rather the evil of the film should remain nuclear weapons in general as opposed to one government over another. See more
Early in the movie, before the nuclear strikes, a young farmer pumps the handle of a yard hydrant to get a drink of water. This type of hydrant is used for a pressurized system and does not use a pump action. It is either on or off. See more
We tried hooking up an auxiliary pump up to a backup generator, and we're still only getting a trickle.
Dr. Sam Hachiya
I still don't understand. Did they burn out?
They could have been subject to the EMP effects.
Dr. Russell Oakes
'Electro-Magnetic Pulse.' When a large nuclear device is airburst at high altitude, a lot of electrical disruption can be created, principally with radios, communication systems, electrical wires, computers, cars, transistors. Of course, it's all theoretical. It's never happened before. ...