Il giorno prima (1987) Poster

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Bunker Prison Experiment
Thorsten_B11 November 2007
In the final credits it says that Philip G. Zimbardo served as scientific adviser for this film. Not only the author of a world-famous introductory book on psychology, Zimbardo was also professor at Stanford University and in this position responsible for the infamous "Stanford Prison Experiment" that was later, among others, turned into a decent film by German director Oliver Hirschbiegel in the 90s. "Il Giorno prima" has some elements of that particular experiment. Whereas back in Stanford volunteers were given the roles of guardians and prisoners and stuck into an improvised prison, "Giorno" has a bunch of people residing in an atomic bunker for two weeks to explore the psychological difficulties that may arise from such a situation. In Stanford, things went wrong: The "guardians" used their roles to punish and humiliate the "prisoners", displaying raw violence in a surrounding that was only to be taken "as if"; Zimbardo had to stop the experiment in order to save the participants' lives. The "Stanford Prison Experiment" gave an insight on how people behave under extreme circumstances. This is repeated in "Il Giorno prima", this time located in a German bunker, with Burt Lancaster in a sort-of "homage" to Zimbardos own original role. As one would expect from an experiment (though the inhabitants of the bunker are not so suspicious), stimuli from outside are brought in, thereby creating arguments, discrepancies and finally even violence. The "moral", so to say, is not surprising, and the acting isn't so great, but the main fault is the very naive script. Then again, it still is an entertaining flick, well worth a look – but probably not two.
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Standard made-for-tv fair.
Susie-710 August 1999
This movie was all right, about what I'd expect from a made-for-tv movie.

I had three problems with this film. The first is that I figured out the surprise plot twist that occurs at the end of the movie very early on in the movie. Maybe it comes from being a psychology major. Or maybe it was blatantly obvious.

My second problem was the way in which the characters behaved at the end of the movie. While I agree that in such a situation, otherwise normal people may behave in atypical, illogical, extreme behavior. However, I thought this film made such behaviors too extreme; this is the same problem I had with Lord of the Flies, where children turn into murdering cannibals when left alone on an island for awhile. I get the point both this film and Lord of the Flies were trying to make, but I think they both overstated it.

My third problem with this film is the characters themselves. There was very little depth to them, and they tended to be quite stereotyped. This problem likely arises from the fact that there are several important characters to flush out and only 2 hours minus commercials to do it in. Because of this, I think they should have either limited the number of people in the shelter to about 8, or they should have picked one or two characters and told it from their perspective.

This movie was a good way to waste time when I was having problems sleeping. If you want a movie that deals with either nuclear attack or the problems with a bunch of people confined to a small space in an intellectual, intriguing manner, this is not the movie for you. However, if you just want to waste a couple hours, this movie is great, because if you end up having something you have to do or if you can finally fall asleep or whatever, because this film does not engage you enough to prevent you from turning off the television.
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Important ideas in this movie
dsnicol31 March 2006
I saw this movie almost 20 years ago and I cannot say that I remember any great acting or technical excellence. However, I remember that I felt mesmerized by it's ambiance and that the ending declares important thoughts that are just as relevant today. We are missing the point. Just as it does not help in 1987 to build fallout shelters because they only cause other problems that are greater for the future, it does not help to feed and immunize millions of the world's poor today if we have no food for their children and grandchildren tomorrow. Technology and fairness cannot solve these problems today, just as fairness (letting everybody in) cannot work in a fallout shelter. Our Earth is a lifeboat, and there are only finite seats in any vessel. This is neither cruel nor selfish. It is a simple declaration of truth. The sooner our policies face the truth, the sooner the suffering will end.
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Nuke The World And Start Over
chow9137 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
So Ben Gazzara is locked in a nuclear fallout shelter with Euro trash. This'll be a fun 90 minutes.

Burt Lancaster hires people from all over Europe (I guess that explains why there's no token minorities), and Ben Gazzara to spend twenty days testing out a nuclear fallout shelter. They'll receive a bonus if they can all stay in for the full time period.

This means we have to sit through endless comments from everyone about how nuclear weapons are evil and how evil America is. Ben Gazzara is too nice to remind them they'd all be speaking German right now if it wasn't for him!

Actually Gazzara makes the moves on the most attractive women.

Predictably they receive news reports of a rogue nuclear missile headed in their direction. Gee, wonder if this is part of the test? Of course you're not wondering because it's obvious it is!

Rioting and looting are rampant and the rioters want inside the nuclear shelter.

Those inside are afraid and decide to gun them down with the M16s they have lying around. So the shelter can withstand a nuclear blast but not people banging on the door with their bare hands? That's when it's revealed it was all just a test.

The production quality gets into real Chester Novell Turner territory. I thought this was made for TV until I heard the F bombs.

Give this one a pass.
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