The frightening story of the weeks leading up to and following a nuclear strike on the United States. The bulk of the activity centers around the town of Lawrence, Kansas.Written by
Anthony Ventarola <firstname.lastname@example.org>
During the attack sequence, there are several cuts of footage acquired during the U.S. atomic testing that took place in the 1950s. The nuclear yield on these tests ranged from fifteen to forty-seven kilotons. In the early 1980s, the Soviet Union had deployed ICBM forces with multiple warheads that carried hydrogen weapons with a yield between one thousand and five thousand kilotons (one to five megatons). See more »
An all-out nuclear war is hypothesized by scientists to produce enough soot and fallout to completely blot out the sun, resulting in an extended nuclear winter around the Earth. The film depicts a brief nuclear snowfall soon after the bombing ceases, but for the rest of the film the landscape is mostly bathed in a hazy sunlight. See more »
There is a rumor they are evacuating Moscow. Yeah. There are even people leaving Kansas City because of the missile fields. Now I ask you: Where does one go from Kansas City? To, uh, the Yukon? To Tahiti? We are not talking about Hiroshima anymore. Hiroshima was... was peanuts!
Dr. Russell Oakes:
What's going on? Do you understand what's going on in this world?
Yeah. Stupidity. Has a habit of getting its way.
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This movie aired recently on the USA network and I saw it for the first time since I was ten years old. Although I did not find myself experiencing nightmares when I went to bed that night, as I did seventeen years ago, I still found the movie's message delivered clearly and with solid dramatic impact.
Upon close analysis, there are flaws, both technical and on the creative end. The post-bomb world seems far too well-lit at times in light of the "nuclear winter" theory. And (as the film's disclaimer says) the actual results are much, much grimmer. Seven years ago I visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the photos, accounts and newsreel footage taken of those who survived are absolutely horrifying.
Some of the plot point devices and characters seem far too constructed (or perhaps outright contrived): Steve Guttenberg and his girlfriend and their tearful reunion, the dying doctor played by Jason Robards returning to the ruins of Kansas City for a final farewell to his home (and wife who died in the explosion). But the acting is strong, and Nicholas Meyer's largely low-key direction (often with no music) hammer home what is the film's message - loss. Not just the typical message that everyone loses in (nuclear) war, but illustrating what would be lost: loved ones, your home, your way of life, simple human dignity. And that it would be lost forever. For me, one of the most chilling lines is when Steve Guttenberg says to his girlfriend, "There's not going to be any phones."
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