7.1/10
5,243
97 user 30 critic

Testament (1983)

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

Director:

Lynne Littman

Writers:

Carol Amen (based on the story "The Last Testament" by), John Sacret Young (screenplay)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jane Alexander ... Carol Wetherly
William Devane ... Tom Wetherly
Rossie Harris ... Brad Wetherly (as Ross Harris)
Roxana Zal ... Mary Liz Wetherly
Lukas Haas ... Scottie Wetherly
Philip Anglim ... Hollis
Lilia Skala ... Fania
Leon Ames ... Henry Abhart
Lurene Tuttle ... Rosemary Abhart
Rebecca De Mornay ... Cathy Pitkin
Kevin Costner ... Phil Pitkin
Mako ... Mike
Mico Olmos Mico Olmos ... Larry
Gerry Murillo Gerry Murillo ... Hiroshi
J. Brennan Smith J. Brennan Smith ... Billdocker
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Storyline

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 | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

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 »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 January 1984 (Argentina) See more »

Also Known As:

Testamento See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$317,996, 6 November 1983, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$2,044,892
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was made and released about three years afters its source novel "The Last Testament" by Carol Amen had been first published in 1980. The movie was actually made about thirteen years after the book was authored as the book was actually written in 1970 but not published until around a decade later. See more »

Quotes

Brad Wetherly: [after finding Hiroshi abandoned at home] I'd better take you home with me, Hiroshi... because I don't think your dad is coming back.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Sex Violence & Values: Changing Images (1986) See more »

Soundtracks

All My Loving
(1963)
By John Lennon and Paul McCartney
Produced by Andrew Dorfman
Performed by Mitch Weissman
Courtesy of Mac Len Music
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A small, brilliant gem of a film that still holds up after 20 years
4 August 2004 | by michaelsevSee all my reviews

I first saw "Testament" when it came out in 1983. At the time, I was 30 years old and the mother of a two year-old son. As a child of the Cold War years, I have always been interested in films about that most unthinkable event: the detonation of a nuclear bomb or bombs somewhere on our fragile planet. If you are, too, you must watch "Testament" (and another small gem of a slightly earlier era called "Fail-Safe.")

This is a wonderful film that slowly, unbearably reveals what happens in the small, idyllic town of Hamlin after a full-scale nuclear exchange between the superpowers wipes out a large part of America. The town and its citizens, including the Weatherly family, escape initial destruction. But slowly the bonds that hold western societies together (electricity, communication, fresh food, medical help) begin to fray and ravel. There is no television. Batteries to power transistor radios suddenly become more valuable than $20 bills in a town where, suddenly, there's nothing left to buy.

The story and scenes are permeated with a sense of enormous loss. A family loses its husband and father who simply walked out the door, waving a breezy goodbye one morning, and disappeared into the holocaust. All his wife, Carol, and two children have left of him are their memories and some flickering images on home movies, glimpses not just of a lost loved one, but of a lost -- and loved -- world.

A school play about the Pied Piper was in rehearsal before catastrophe hit, and, desperate to recapture some normalcy and to divert the children's attention from a reality to horrible to contemplate, the town decides to go on with the show.In the earlier rehearsal scenes, life was normal, the future shone brightly in the children's faces. Now, as the parents watch the performance, they see no future for these beautiful innocents. To me, this is the key scene of the film: the contrast between what these people once had and what has been lost is staggering. It makes you want to go outside, smell the air, marvel at the full supermarket shelves and the working telephone lines. (This is a gift that the movie gives its audience which goes far beyond entertainment and approaches enlightenment.)

Beyond the wonderful writing, direction and performances, I love the tiny touches in the story. For example, there's the foreshadowing, the implicit warning contained in the presence of a minor character, a little Japanese boy with Down Syndrome who is cared for by the town after his father dies. The child's name is Hiroshi. Pay attention, the script commands us in a whisper: Hiroshima happened once, but it can happen again, and it can happen to you as well as "them."

In the end, the movie is a testament to this undeniable fact, a testament to the stupidity of men who continue building ever-larger, more lethal means of mass destruction, and finally, a testament to the strength of mothers like the character of Carol Weatherly who have no choice but to love and protect their children no matter what comes.


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