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



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

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



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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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot 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 »




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 film was originally shot as a made-for-TV movie. Paramount executives were so impressed with it that they released it in theaters as a feature. The cast sued the producers for higher pay, claiming they were paid television salaries and not feature film salaries. The case was settled out of court. See more »


Throughout the story, Carol watches her favorite family moments on super 8 home movie film, and even weeks after the nuclear disaster she watches the home movies with Hiroshi and Brad on a projector. If the radiation was really at a high enough level to kill off the other townsfolk, then it would have been so strong that the films would have deteriorated upon exposure to it, destroying the images on the celluloid so that nobody could view them. See more »


Scottie Wetherly: Tell it to stop.
Carol Wetherly: I can't.
See more »


Features Sesame Street (1969) 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 »

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User Reviews

I saw this once 20 years ago; I've never forgotten it.
14 July 2003 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

It's been TWENTY YEARS (!) since I've seen this movie in a theatre, and I've never yet forgotten it. If any movie can be said to be life-changing, this is it. TESTAMENT was first shown in theatres, and the film's power became front page headlines for quite some time. People were crying in theatres, and article after article told of how this extremely powerful film affected people. This was not hype; the emotional strength of this movie is genuinely powerful.

For myself, I held back as best I could from crying in the theatre (me being a 23 year old guy seeing it with two (married) friends). But the effect on me was apparently visible immediately: when I walked out of the theatre and passed thru the line of people waiting for the next showing, a woman, who was laughing with her friends, happened to look at me and her face went completely serious. I very nearly hugged her right there, this stranger. When I got home, I cried for about two hours. The film's themes affected my, at the time, concerns about love, relationships, and such like.

One scene I'll never EVER forget, the most devastating: the 13-ish year old daughter asks her mother, "What's it like?" MOTHER: "What's what like?" DAUGHTER: "Making love." The mother (Jane Alexander -- my God, what a performance!) tells her in a very frank and beautiful speech, and the daughter caps off that scene with a devastating remark that just kills you and got my tears flowing (I probably couldn't hold back at that point).

Before making TESTAMENT, director Lynne Littman had made only documentaries, so maybe that "realism" style added to the power and believability of this movie. One of my all time favorite supporting actors is in this film, and he does a fantastic job: Mako. He and the young retarded (Down Syndrome?) boy who plays his son make a phenomenal team. They're my favorite characters: so full of innocence, father so full of love, strength and pain. Agh... my god my god... what a movie. Whew.

53 of 63 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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