Testament (1983)

PG  |   |  Drama, Sci-Fi  |  5 January 1984 (Argentina)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.1/10 from 4,376 users  
Reviews: 87 user | 30 critic

The life of a suburban American family is scarred after a nuclear attack.



(based on the story "The Last Testament" by), (screenplay)
0Check in

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video

Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

The Day After (TV Movie 1983)
Drama | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A graphic, disturbing film about the effects of a devastating nuclear holocaust on small-town residents of eastern Kansas.

Director: Nicholas Meyer
Stars: Jason Robards, JoBeth Williams, Steve Guttenberg
Threads (TV Movie 1984)
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Documentary-style account of a nuclear holocaust and its effect on the working class city of Sheffield, England, and the eventual long-term effects of nuclear war on civilization.

Director: Mick Jackson
Stars: Karen Meagher, Reece Dinsdale, David Brierly
By Dawn's Early Light (TV Movie 1990)
Drama | Thriller | Action
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The crew of a nuclear bomber attack the Soviet Union while the President of the United States tries desperately to regain control of his military after his helicopter crashes during a ... See full summary »

Director: Jack Sholder
Stars: Powers Boothe, Rebecca De Mornay, James Earl Jones
Crime | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 3.2/10 X  

A detective investigates a series of killings committed by a serial killer known as "The Black Angel." He begins to suspect that it might not be just a random group of murders.

Director: Howard Heard
Stars: Elizabeth Trosper, William J. Kulzer, Shea Porter
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Disturbing collection of 1940s and 1950s United States government issued propaganda films designed to reassure Americans that the atomic bomb was not a threat to their safety.

Directors: Jayne Loader, Kevin Rafferty, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Paul Tibbets, Harry S. Truman, W.H.P. Blandy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.6/10 X  

Everyone has a talent, and dreams do come true. Stacy Lancaster has an incredible knack for Blackjack. Once she joins up with daring Will Bonner the two young gamblers are on a non-stop ... See full summary »

Director: Jim Wilson
Stars: Kevin Costner, Andra Millian, Eve Lilith
Special Bulletin (TV Movie 1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A TV reporter and cameraman are taken hostage on a tugboat while covering a workers strike. The demands of the hostage-takers are to collect all the nuclear detonators in the Charleston, SC... See full summary »

Director: Edward Zwick
Stars: Ed Flanders, Kathryn Walker, Roxanne Hart
Miracle Mile (1988)
Action | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A young man hears a chance phone call telling him that a nuclear war has started and missiles will hit his city in 70 minutes.

Director: Steve De Jarnatt
Stars: Anthony Edwards, Mare Winningham, John Agar
The Gunrunner (1989)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 3.9/10 X  

1926. The Chinese Civil War. Drifter Ted Beaubien is captured and forced to witness his girlfriend's execution. He finally escapes and vows to avenge her death by taking on a deadly mission... See full summary »

Director: Nardo Castillo
Stars: Kevin Costner, Sara Botsford, Paul Soles
Fandango (1985)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Five college buddies from the University of Texas circa 1971 embark on a final road trip odyssey across the Mexican border before facing up to uncertain futures, in Vietnam and otherwise.

Director: Kevin Reynolds
Stars: Kevin Costner, Judd Nelson, Sam Robards
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 2.9/10 X  
Directors: Therese Conte, Sean Roche
Stars: David G. Brown, Kevin Costner, John Fife
Testament at 20 (Video 2003)
Documentary | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

Interviews with crew and cast look back 20 years to the filming and release of "Testament" in 1983. Like the 1959 classic "On The Beach", this film focuses on nuclear conflict as it affects... See full summary »

Director: Lynne Littman
Stars: Jane Alexander, Philip Anglim, Andrea Asimow


Cast overview, first billed only:
Carol Wetherly
Tom Wetherly
Brad Wetherly (as Ross Harris)
Roxana Zal ...
Mary Liz Wetherly
Scottie Wetherly
Henry Abhart
Rosemary Abhart
Cathy Pitkin
Phil Pitkin
Mico Olmos ...
Gerry Murillo ...
J. Brennan Smith ...


Nuclear war in the United States is portrayed in a realistic and believable manner. The story is told through the eyes of a woman who is struggling to take care of her family. The entire movie takes place in a small suburban town outside San Francisco. After the nuclear attack, contact with the outside world is pretty much cut off. Written by Mark Logan <marklo@west.sun.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Imagine a day like any other. The children are fighting, the refrigerator is humming. Highways are jammed, playgrounds are filled. Everything is perfectly normal... For the very last time. See more »


Drama | Sci-Fi


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

5 January 1984 (Argentina)  »

Also Known As:

Testamento  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$1,500,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The name of the school play that was being performed was "The Pied Piper of Hamelin". See more »


Father Hollis Mann: I'm sorry I'm late. Let's begin.
Carol Wetherly: Not yet!
Father Hollis Mann: God said...
Carol Wetherly: [hysterical] Forget God! No one is touching him! No one is burying him until I find his bear! Do you hear me? You understand?
[Carol runs back to the house, pause]
Father Hollis Mann: ...whosoever believeth in me shall never die.
See more »


Featured in Testament at 20 (2003) See more »


Hello! Ma Rag Time Gal!
(1899) (uncredited)
(Also called "Hello! Ma Baby")
Written by Joseph E. Howard and Ida Emerson
Performed by Bill Roberts
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Probably the best of the "triumverent"
8 May 1999 | by (Marshfield, WI) – See all my reviews

There was "The Day After," a U.S. production about as subtle as someone hitting you over the head with a bat going "Nuclear war is BAD! BAD BAD BAD!"

Then there was "Threads," the BBC answer to Day After. Gripping, yes. Also unrelentingly graphic, violent and disturbing with little in terms of acting.

Then you have "Testament," a quiet little American Playhouse production that, quite simply, runs circles around the other two. No mushroom clouds, no graphic scenes of mass destruction and death incarnate. Just simple, raw human emotion. "Testament" handles its subject manner with a surprising gentle touch, understated, yet effective. The film is the best of the three because of its subtlety. A small Californian town isn't hit by the blast, but rather the aftermath.

It works. At first, the town manages to hold together fairly well, even proceeding with the elementary school play. But then the children begin dying, then the grownups. And the film rapidly becomes a story about surviving as best you can, rather than rebuilding and going on. I won't spoil the film by revealing plot details, but there are several twists that are both subtle and heartbreaking.

This film relies on its emotions to tell the story, and the actors are up to the task. Jane Alexander is, in a word, brilliant (how she didn't win the Oscar she got nominated for is beyond me), but she's not the only one. Her children, particularly Lukas Haas and Roxanna Zal (in their movie debuts), are stunning as well, while some of the bit players make the most of what they have.

In the end, it's the gradual NON-appearance of the actors that make the point. Life will go on, yes, but for how long? "Testament" relies on the loss of those we learn to love to make its point in the best way possible: by letting us get it on our own.

47 of 58 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Im sooo disappointed... gobe-2
this movie terrified me as a child of the 80s.. eightbitsofhorror
DVD release? matt_the_melon
Why didn't they leave? overfloden
Most Depressing Scene nWo4-LIFE
'This is San Francisco..... xabat77
Discuss Testament (1983) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: