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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
One of two 1983 films about nuclear warfare and atomic bombs that were originally made for television but garnered a theatrical release in select territories. The other was The Day After (1983). See more »
I never thought a film about nuclear war could be more moving than "The Day After" or "Threads". Now that I've viewed "Testament", I know I was wrong.
Frankly, I thought the film would seem mild in comparison with the former two, which are very graphic and horrific. In fact, it was even more disturbing and difficult to watch. Several times I considered shutting the film off, thinking "What good is it doing me to watch this depressing movie?" But each time I convinced myself to stick it out, and I'm glad I did.
I don't know what it was; the strength of Jane Alexander's performance, the combined performances by the younger actors playing her children, the excellent and artistic (yet remarkably matter-of-fact) cinematography, the haunting beauty of James Horner's score, or all of the above, but "Testament" just got into me and tore my very soul apart. There's no graphic "ground zero" scenes like in the other two films, just the story of a family struggling to survive, trying to stay hopeful beyond all hope.
The scene that I think will stick with me forever is the shot of Jane Alexander tearing apart bedsheets. That's all I'll say about this scene for now since I don't want to give anything away, but watch the film and you'll know what I'm talking about.
As other reviews have alluded to, "The Day After" and "Testament" both came out around the same time, yet "Testament" is far less known and remembered among the two films, even though most consider it the better of the two. I think the reason for this is that "The Day After" was presented on television, while "Testament", though originally made for public television, was instead released to theaters. With a movie like this, I think it's easier to just watch it on TV than to bring yourself to actually go out to a theater to experience this type of film.
"Testament" is one of those films like "The Hours". It's beautiful, breathtaking, unforgettable... and so heartrending I'm not sure I can ever bring myself to watch it again. But if you haven't seen it, you should. Trust me, it will be worth it.
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