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As with most other reviewers who saw this movie, I too have had shocking
images burned into my brain that I will never forget.
I first saw this when I was in 8th grade. Our teacher showed us the first half but then she went on sick leave and for some reason, we never got to see the rest of the film. Most of the other students didn't really care, but for years I've always wondered how the movie turned out.
Well I recently rented this after I saw it at video store I just signed up at and all I can say is, "Oh my God." Although captivating, this movie is shockingly and frightfully sickening in the most humane way possible. It focuses on the threat of a nuclear war that is imposed on the residents of an industrial town in Britain, "Sheffield". The nuclear war will affect all of Britain and penultimately, the rest of the world, but we focus on several different characters and families that reside in Sheffield.
We spend the first half of the movie focusing on people in every day life situations which lead into reports of a nuclear war scare and finally, widespread panic in society that results after it becomes apparent that a nuclear war WILL most likely occur.
The halfway point of the movie is the nuclear explosion itself. We see buildings explode, bodies incinerate and perhaps the end of the world as we may all know it.
The second half of the movie focuses on the aftermath of the nuclear devastation and the collapse of a working society. I can't even begin to name all of the horrors that are examined to great detail. We witness cannibalism, famine and disease. We particularly follow the exploits of one character, 'Ruth', pregnant with a child before the nuclear war, we witness the birth of the 'nuclear generation', and particularly, the exploits of her daughter once she is exposed to what world and life has become.
When the credits rolled, my brain couldn't tell me to find the remote and press stop. It was too busy filtering through all the images and 'what if' scenarios that were running through my brain after watching "Threads". I realise that at the time of this movie's initial release, nuclear war was a possible threat. It is now almost 16 years later and this movie still has enough power and grist to tell and show you that ANYTHING 'nuclear' is wrong.
This is a movie every school child should be forced to watch. I admit that it may induce nightmares, but this is a movie that has a message that MUST be received.
This is perhaps one of the most masochistic films ever made. You are taken into the personal world of two British families in Sheffield (site of a major NATO installation), who have children that are about to be married. Thousands of miles away, World War 3 slowly starts, and the ultimate horror happens. Thermonuclear war breaks out. The world, literally, grinds to a halt, in one of the most scientifically accurate depictions of nuclear war since "War Game, The" (1965). Unlike the US film "Day After, The" (1983) (TV), the film gives detailed information as to what is happening on a scientific basis. You are shown how a worst-case scenario can happen, and what the effects are, as you follow the surviving members of the two families through the aftermath. The scenes of death, destruction and disease are so realistic, I had to shower after seeing this film for the first time. But what is most disturbing is that the film includes the long-term effects of global thermonuclear war, going into weeks, months, years, even decades. The film ends thirteen years after the nuclear attack, and the final frames of the film will burn into you like no other film ever will. There can be no question that this film MUST be re-released in the USA on DVD, so that it's message will be heard and felt.
I've always said that no film can really scare you as an adult as films
scared you when you were a kid. My benchmark for that being watching
'The Omen' on video when i was about 13, nothing has ever quite lived
up to it in the effect it had on me.
Rewatching 'Threads' a while back makes me change my mind.
I remember first seeing it in Ireland on the BBC when I guess i was about 14. Even in Ireland, a neutral country, anxiety about nuclear war was a big thing when we were kids in the 80's.
'Threads' does really get to you, its very unsettling and disturbing. Unlike fictional horror films, 'Threads' is hugely different in one respect - it's real. This is what would happen, you can't distance yourself by saying it's make believe. There are still thousands of nuclear weapons armed and primed to be launched within minutes, 24 hours a day, everyday. Now we even have a country, the US, that says it's ready to use them, even if no one else does first.
Rewatching it, the dated production values don't detract from the film's power. It seems to bring the film even closer to the ordinary and the everyday. It's the film's ordinariness that makes it so viscerally disturbing - Hollywood special effects would at least have allowed you to distance yourself from it somewhat. In fact the film is more realistic for not having them. Someone else mentioned the scene of the woman in the shopping centre urinating where she stood out of pure terror as she sees the bomb go off a mile or two away from her - thats the scene that stayed with me the most too.
Its depressing to think in 2004 we are living in a world where politicians are again talking about 'winnable' wars using nuclear weapons. In many things in life you get a second chance if you make mistakes, I don't think nuclear weapons use will give us the luxury of finding out afterwards was it all worth it. Watch "Threads' and see if you think 'winnable' nuclear war is something you want to give yourself or your children.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Having just purchased this on DVD I was eager to watch it after waiting
years to see it after it was unofficially banned from ever being shown
on the BBC again. I was four when it was first shown and my parents
switched it off, too frightened to watch it themselves never mind let
me see it.
I have to say it is absolutely terrifying and utterly terrifying in the extreme. This could have actually happened! I was impressed by the way the film conveyed what it would be like if thousands of megatons of atomic bomb was dropped on the U.K. Normal life comes to an abrupt stop. One minute people are shopping in their local supermarket, going to the pub and wallpapering their new flat and suddenly they are plunged into Hell. Civilisation is blown back into the stone age.
The most scary part was the way the authorities were shown unable to cope with the scale of the attack (perhaps why the BBC never aired it again). We always think that it could never be that bad because someone would come to our rescue, someone would maintain control. But no, the bombs / missiles keep raining down and down prompting one traumatised emergency committee member to scream, "not another one!" They just did not expect so devastation and are completely helpless. Later soldiers shoot people for food, people wish for death and the emergency committee, those meant to be running things, die in the supposed protective bunker, trapped by rubble.
Ten years later, nothing is back to normal. What young people there are behave like wild animals, raping and fighting and speaking in a bizarre caveman manner.
Since the Cold War ended people have stopped being frightened of nuclear weapons. Everybody in every country should watch this film and realise that if there ever was a nuclear war, still possible with growing tensions between a superpower and its rivals, those left alive would wish they had been caught in the blasts and killed outright.
I don't recommend this for sensitive viewers.
I think it would be useless to repeat all that the other users have said
about "Threads" since I cannot do better but agree with everything. This has
to be THE most graphic representation of nuclear war. And I used to think
"The Day After" was disturbing.
I was able to cope to the whole movie, but let's say it wasn't easy at all. I can still hear in my head the yells of the panicked citizens as the mushroom cloud rises in the distance when it hits Crewe... or see the bottles of milk... or the corpse (which bears a striking resemblance with E.T.!) burning in the firestorm... or see survivors keeping as gold what is taken nowadays as granted: supermarket plastic bags... and what they put inside is simply disgusting.
When I found out my local video store had a copy of this film, I rushed to get it, as I was impatient to see this movie I have heard so much about. The impatience to see the movie was rewarded by nothing more than a really bad aftertaste of radioactive fallout.
I liked the movie not for the quality of the actors, but for the overall realistic representation of the holocaust and for the great job done with a small budget. I give a thumbs up to that.
Nothing on television has disturbed me as much as THREADS, There is so
to shock the viewer in this docu-drama that it`s difficult to pick the
disturbing aspect of this nuclear holocaust scenario , but if pushed I`d
it`s the ending of the rule of law. The thought of having my throat cut
a packet of cheese and onion crisps is more frightening than the lack of
medical facilities , famine , radiation sickness or mutant
The reason THREADS wins over its rivals for the crown of " Nuclear Holocaust King " is its depiction of The Nuclear Winter , though it`s done rather unsuccessfully by sticking a dark filter over the camera , but at least it`s mentioned in depth unlike the awful THE DAY AFTER , and unlike TDA we`re shown the months and years after the war where the survivors have to cope without an ozone layer or a coherent language. These survivors are truly the unlucky ones. The final scene is so distressing it doesn`t need words
Of course it hasn`t happened , the cold war is over and for that the human race must be truly greatful but as a teenager in the 1980`s nuclear holocaust didn`t only seem possible - it seemed probable . And if it looked like the bomb was going to drop I`d be having a last supper involving lots of vodka and sleeping pills. A cowards way out perhaps but as THREADS shows they won`t be giving out medals after the third world war
The first and only time I saw Threads was when it aired on PBS in 1985
or 1986, at 15 or 16 years old. It came near the end of my childhood
obsession with world war III, in which I terrified myself to sleep many
nights worrying about it.
Like no other movie Threads has, in the last 20 years, popped back in my thoughts on occasion. I remember many scenes vividly, and through the magic of IMDb, I've learned that some things that I thought I saw, but couldn't believe, actually did occur in the film. (I'm referring specifically to the "ET" scene that was mentioned in the message boards.) Having grown up in the strategic target city of Chicago, I thought: Okay, this is what I could expect if it does happen. I kept me awake into my 20's, when the cold war ended, and the threat was minimized.
There truly is no more frightening a movie ever made.
Words can't describe how this movie affected me in 1985, but I'll try.
I happened upon a presentation of "Threads" when I was about 11 years
old. As a Navy family, we were stationed in Washington D.C. After
viewing it, I was frightened to the point of vomiting. I had nightmares
for weeks. The world was a very unstable place at the time with a
Soviet government that seemed to change monthly.
The cast does an admirable job here. Dialog is kept to a damaging minimum. There is no soundtrack other than screams of misery and explosions. Very effective. While you can't compare a TV production, there is effective use of stock footage. The interspersed scientific facts regarding the aftermath punctuate the film brilliantly.
While other films about the same topic, like "The Day After" and Testament", were reasonably effective in their messages, I think they failed where "Threads" succeeded. In the aforementioned films, there's a glimmer of hope. In "Threads" there is no hope, only death, misery and dread.
I believe I saw "Threads" before the TV broadcast of "The Day After" because my reaction was one of slight indifference. After seeing Mick Jackson's and Barry Hines' work, "The Day After" is like a day at Disneyland. No film portrays the world on the brink and over the edge as effectively. Highly recommended.
I first saw "Threads" in high school, and saw it again recently as a grown
adult. It does make a measure how old you are when viewing this movie; you
take the actions on screen more seriously.
"Threads" plays like BBC documentary about a catastrophic nuclear war, interjecting live scenes with a bland monologue and various statistics, although one wonders what audience would be viewing this documentary.
Since it does play like a documentary, it feels no need to either overplay events or sugarcoat things for our sensibilities. There's no speeches or heroic actions, everything occurs as it happens, no matter how horrifying.
The gore is moderate (it was a TV movie after all) but is unsettling because it's taken to be real. Throughout you look for some hopeful thought to intrude, even comic relief, but "Threads" stares you down, making you watch the horror and woe to the bitter end. There is no hope or salvation, only despair.
It's worth seeing a movie like this as a reminder of the horrors of nuclear war; the threat of a mututal destruction by superpowers seems to be fast fading, but there's always the possibility of terrorists or new enemies.
"Threads" is to nuclear war what "Saving Private Ryan" is to war movies, a landmark film that delivers a strong political message without ever really mentioning it.
I was about eleven or twelve when this harrowing made-for-TV docu-drama was repeated by the BBC, back to back with 'The War Game'. 'The War Game' didn't faze me much, for various reasons, but 'Threads' - that grabbed me instantly and wouldn't let go. It was not only horribly real, seeing a lower-middle class family rather like my own suddenly plunged back into the dark ages by a nuclear holocaust, it was also entirely believable (the cold war was still very much an ongoing concern back in the eighties) and shockingly compelling. I wanted to look away, but couldn't. I wanted to run from the room in fright, but couldn't. For better or worse, this film showed in full, unflinching, uncompromising detail exactly what it would be like if your home town got nuked, and gave us graphic realism in spades. Melting milk-bottles, spontaneous urination, houses reduced to rubble in seconds, burning cats, dead kids, gore, vomit, armed traffic wardens shooting looters, filth, decay, disease...it's certainly not a barrel of laughs, but Mick Jackson's aim was to shut up all the ignorant gung-hos who believed a nuclear war could be "won". He succeeded, unequivocally. The scene that made the deepest impact on me was the ravaged makeshift classroom with a ragged bunch of shell-shocked adults dazedly watching an ancient videotape of a schools programme (Words and Pictures, in fact) in an attempt to regain their numeracy and literacy skills. That was a show we used to watch at school. Work it out for yourself. In short, this is a downbeat, depressing, bleak and utterly horrible film, but I recommend it wholeheartedly to everyone. The cold war may be gone, but the threats portrayed are still very real.
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