I was two years old when the Berlin Wall came down and four when the Soviet Union dissolved. For most of my life, the idea of a nuclear war was a science fiction trope and the Cold War, for me, carried no more weight than the Battle of Gettysburg. I learned all about it and knew close we came to destroying each other, but it didn’t really register emotionally for me.
But today, I catch myself wondering if this I’m feeling the same way other people felt when they read the news during the Cold War. Russia is a hostile nation that wants to rebuild its empire and other “world leaders” are beating their chests and claiming that their nuclear arsenal is the source of their nation’s strength. When a false alarm warning of a nuclear attack sounded in Hawaii, people were legitimately terrified that the end was coming. It was something I never believed I’d see.
How should I feel about this? With no frame of reference, it feels like something out of an intentionally funny, like Dr. Strangelove come to life. So how can I understand what that fear is really like? If the nukes do fall, the world will end up like Mad Max, right? I may have to worry about car chases and men in leather underwear but overall, I’ll end up OK.
I bring up Mad Max because that was what the end of the world looked like to me. People noticed the trend that the “post-apocalyptic” movie was becoming more of a thrilling adventure than something to fill people with terror. That’s because they never showed the actual apocalypse. People in the middle of the Cold War had no reference to what the end of their civilization would be like. News stories featuring talking heads speculating on the war didn’t do the trick.
So, filmmakers in countries all over the world stepped up and made some of the bleakest, most frightening films ever made. They scared the pants of the Cold War audience and they’re ready to scare a new generation. They also show the different views that different nations held about the Cold War. Even countries in NATO did not all feel the same way about the conflict. Some still felt a need to win, others were unhappy to be caught in the middle.
I watched six of those nuclear apocalypse dramas made at the height of the Cold War to find out what they show about the countries that produced them. And I’ll see if they still frighten me.
The Day After (1983) – Let’s start with what is likely the most famous film in this specific subgenre – The Day After. When it aired on ABC in November 1983, it was an immediate cultural milestone. Everyone – or practically everyone – tuned in to watch it and the second half (the half with all death) played without commercials. There was a hotline set up for people traumatized by the film and it was followed by a televised debate between astrophysicist Carl Sagan, author Elle Wiesel, former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, and professional mumbler/former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. (Could you imagine a news show getting a panel like that today?) Even Fred Rogers devoted the week before The Day After aired to episodes trying to explain why adults fought in ways that could destroy the world. It was also watched by world leaders of the time. President Ronald Reagan, himself a former Hollywood star who understood the impact movies could make on an audience, wrote in his diary that the film was very disturbing. It was likely impossible to not have an opinion on the movie, which meant that viewers were at least trying to make sense of its message.
That’s an enormous build up for a “made for TV” movie. And The Day After has amazing people in its credits. It was directed by Nicholas Meyer (who directed Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn) and features an ensemble cast of character actors including Steve Guttenburg, John Lithgow, Stephen Furst, Amy Madigan, and two-time Oscar winner Jason Robards. No expense was spared to create this spectacle. And it worked. People who saw it were traumatized (although some critics on the right accused the filmmakers of doing the KGB’s job for them) and it lead to actual policy changes around the world.
But here’s the problem – the film still presents a sanitized version of nuclear war. Compared to some of the other films on this list, The Day After is downright tame.
Normally, this would be understandable. Most films made for television in the U.S. must be as bloodless as possible and cannot create any controversy. But The Day After is ostensibly about the end of human civilization. It should feature a lot of wreckage and despair. When I watched it, I didn’t get any of those feelings. It felt no different than any number of disaster movies of the time where the end of the world was a spectacle to create entertainment. Those help lines ABC set up were undoubtedly as much of a publicity stunt as they were a way to help their audience.
This frustrated the director as much as it did anyone else. He wanted to make a four-hour film and had to cut many scenes from his original concept. That was strike one against The Day After. Strike two was the fact that the film still had to uphold U.S. broadcasting standards of the time. This meant that we would not see any bodies, any gore, or any realistic destruction caused by a nuclear attack. And strike three was the fact that I never got the sense I was watching any characters. I was watching archetypes of American stereotypes. This meant that I wasn’t feeling any sense of lose as I saw characters wandering around the ruins of their civilization.
I did like some moments in the first act. We see a soldier saying goodbye to his wife as he’s put on alert. The populace is also very eager to watch the latest news, but they’re constantly laughing about the possibility of a nuclear war. “Where will we be next week? The upper atmosphere,” some college students joke. But I can’t help thinking we’re seeing all of America condensed into a very unsatisfying way. We’ve a woman who is about to be married, a college student who has yet to figure out what he wants in life, a soldier who’s conflicted between his personal life and his job, a college professor who’s cynical about everything, and a farming family. It’s literally a Where’s Waldo of Americana.
The opening scene features incredible inappropriate patriotic music that sounds like a rejected piece to the Red Dawn score. It sets the stage that, ultimately, Americans were still the heroes and still had the moral superiority of those dastardly Reds. That completely undermines the point of mutually assured destruction. It does not matter who is right. At the end of the day everyone would die.
We eventually do get a nuke scene about 55 minutes into the film. And it’s probably the best nuclear war scene in the films I’ve seen for this article. It’s not great because of what it shows, but for what it implies. Other films were either ambiguous or showed everyone running around screaming. The Day After shows most of the victims caught in their daily lives. First, we see movie goers lose power during an EMP – as well as an operating room as surgeons work to save a patient. Then we see people vaporized in the blast, including an entire wedding party. People run from their cars as they stop working, trying desperately to get away. A child is blinded by the bomb’s flash. But the scariest part is the soldier who stumbles over his words (“Major Reinhardt, we have a massive attack against the U.S. at…at..at..this time.”) as he relays information about the ICBMs en route to the U.S. He tries to remain stoic – this moment is something he’s trained for his entire career. And yet when that moment comes, even he’s scared. When the end comes, everyone will be caught off guard.
It’s a fantastic scene – a scene that carries real power and impact. Watching it now makes me realize how understandable the fear of nuclear war was at the time.
And then the film returns to the same archetypes that we saw in the first act. A woman is worried about her baby being born into this obliterated world. One young teenager runs outside after the bombing, convinced that everything’s OK now and oblivious to the fallout. A soldier tries to get home to his wife. A college professor holes himself and his students in a bunker, where they try to contact the outside world. And a doctor who’s dying of radiation sickness tries to go home, only to find that his house and his wife have both been vaporized.
I don’t include any names because they’re not necessary. You’re likely already picturing what the characters look like based on my description, and you’re right.
There are still some great scenes that take place in the second half. I liked the bit where a surgeon hangs multiple flashlights to the ceiling so he can work. There are also horrifying scenes in which survivors are being segregated by whether it’s worth treating them for radiation sickness. They have ribbons tied in their hair, but as one character says, “I have no hair left to tie it in.” There is also a sense of us losing the outside world. Characters are desperate for news but no news about survivors is coming. The final call on a ham radio asking “Is anyone out there? Anyone at all?” is probably the bleakest ending for an American TV movie.
But compared to almost all the other films on this list, The Day After surprisingly didn’t do much for me. I still don’t have any emotional connection to a nuclear apocalypse. A few scenes brought me close, but then the film was too scared to follow through. This isn’t the director’s fault, but a reflection on American standards of entertainment. “Don’t make it too bleak,” network executives say, “or else we may not be able to take a break, so people can watch that old lady ask where the beef is.”
Does this make me afraid of nuclear war? No more than The Day After Tomorrow made me fear climate change. I recognized it was something to be concerned about but also knew that this film is more interested in creating a facsimile than the real thing.[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VG2aJyIFrA[/embedyt]
Testament (1983)– Testament is a film that was originally released very close to The Day After and seemed to have anticipated The Day After’s mistakes. It’s the best nuclear drama to come out of the United States.
The film was originally made to be broadcast on PBS, but Paramount eventually decided to release it in theaters. It was a good call on their part, as the film received admiring reviews and earned lead actress Jane Alexander an Oscar nomination. It also proved an early starring role for Kevin Costner, who has a minor role as one of the neighbors.
While The Day After was unnecessarily broad, Testament knows how to establish its setting with just a few visual cues. The first thing we see is a Jane Fonda workout tape on TV. That’s all we need to establish the setting. Testament isn’t interested in the political situation outside the family’s house. It’s focused instead on the family scenes – a dad named Tom teaching his kid to ride a bike, a mom named Carol (that’s Alexander) getting annoyed at her child for trying to feed his action figures. Tom commutes to his job in San Francisco, while Carol helps plan for the school play about the Pied Piper of Hamlin.
We don’t see any news about the war or even get a scene documenting it. Instead, we get a newscaster interrupting Sesame Street to let people know that the East Coast has been nuked and then we see a blinding flash just outside the window. The town remains (even if the power’s out due to the EMP) and everyone is still alive. But they still feel the loss of everything they know. Tom is not seen after the attack (he was trapped in San Francisco and his ultimate fate is not revealed) and Carol’s children eventually show signs of radiation sickness.
What works about Testament are those little family moments. It manages to apply one family’s struggle to the entire world. Carol is doing her best to hold out hope that her husband will return and comfort her kids. But slowly, they realize they can’t hold onto their world. Bodies are burned, children die, food runs out, and everything the town does to be normal seems silly and false.
But, unlike in some of the other films, personal relationships still matter. Legendary Japanese character actor Mako plays a gas station owner with a disabled son. He was friends with Carol before the bombing and refuses to charge her for gasoline as the town’s supply dwindles. The town even decides to continue with the school play just to give their lives some semblance of normalcy. Although even at that point, the darkness is already setting in. It’s explained that the original narrator of the play had to drop out because he was sick. Scottie, the child Carol was scolding at the start of the film later buries the action figures he was feeding because “there’s not enough food left to feed them.” Brad is forced to take on the role of the patriarch in the house. One symbolic moment has him using Tom’s bicycle after his own is stolen. But who cares if he’s growing up as an individual? It means very little when his siblings are dying.
What does this all mean? It means that there was no point to using Americana as a weapon in the Cold War. The culture that fueled suburbia would not survive the bomb. And the victims weren’t going to be people thousands of miles away – it would be you. Finally, it didn’t take much to destroy your life. All it would take is a few disasters happening far away from you.
The film ends with Carol celebrating Brad’s birthday, using graham crackers instead of cake. It’s clear that she’s dying and this may be the last moment she has with her surviving child. She asks that we “remember it all. The good and the awful.” That likely had a lot of resonance for the audience watching the movie. There were some very awful moments they had seen that could have lead to the end of the world. But the good was what made the world worth preserving for the next generation.
Testament, with its small budget, knew how to make an impact. It focuses on the people who try to keep their world together. But in the end, there’s no point. The bombs would eventually claim their victims, no matter how long it took. And the people left behind would have to deal with the wreckage, no matter how far away they were from ground zero.
Does this film make me afraid of nuclear war? This is the film that made me afraid of what would happen if everyone I knew survived. We’d all have to make some difficult decisions and, eventually, those decisions may not be worth making.[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1S66lMTUAQ[/embedyt]
The Third World War (1998) – It wasn’t only the U.S. that could make nuclear war films. Germany may very well have been the most important strategic point of the Cold War, and they knew it. And they hated it.
The Third World War is an alternate history documentary released on German television in 1998, nine years after the wall came down. An English language version was also produced and aired on The Learning Channel. For the purposes of this piece, I watched the German language version to help understand the impact its audience would have felt.
Both versions follow the same plot. During a visit to East Berlin in October 1989, Gorbachev is removed from power and is replaced by the hard-liner general Vladimir Soshkin. (The film never explains what exactly happened to Gorbachev. His flight from East Berlin to Moscow simply never makes it back home.) Soshkin purges liberal elements in the Eastern bloc and, as someone with “no time for MTV or McDonalds,” works to undo all of the reforms Gorbachev made.
It gets substantially worse from there.
This film’s effectiveness comes from its embrace of reality. Stock footage is shown of major world leaders of the time, including President George H.W. Bush, Chancellor of Germany Helmut Kohl, and General Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party in East Germany Erich Honecker. When the movie uses fictional characters, they seem realistic enough. Soshkin reminded me of a different Vladimir that currently rules Russia – a conservative hard-liner who felt Russia had deteriorated and wanted to “restore” it. He’s also unable to negotiate. When (fictional) National Security Advisor Martin Jacobs goes to visit and talk to Soshkin, he’s only told “nyet.”
This is a great reminder of how precarious the Cold War truly was. Reform was not a guarantee in the Soviet bloc and one tiny change could have caused the outcome presented here. The new Soviet regime took a lot of cues from the Chinese suppression of activists at Tiananmen Square. Everyone is afraid of this new, alternate reality – much like everyone reacts to the reality we currently find ourselves in.
Unlike every other film on this list, The Third World War does not go straight to the bombs. Instead, it depicts a ground war in Europe that sees the NATO powers beating the Soviets and halting their march across Europe. The film uses every piece of stock footage it can find to make the war seem as realistic as possible. And it works. I had to remind myself that no such war happened. What’s even stranger is that the NATO forces end up defeating the Warsaw Pact. It seems like the future is bright for Europe, even though it took another world war to create it.
The final act is slow, because we’re waiting for the bomb to finally drop. They finally do on April 1, thanks to a radar malfunction. We’re not shown the aftermath. Instead, we’re told that there is no recorded history after the bombs fell. And then we get the triumphant pictures of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union, reminding us that it all worked out in the end.
The Third World War was just a thought exercise created for an audience that was comforted by the actual reality they lived in. But now, with all the parallels to our world, it feels like something far more realistic and possible. It demonstrates how the attitudes of the hard liners never really went away – they just faded into the background, waiting to make a comeback. Now that they’re here, we’re not sure what to do with them and all of our responses have been mindless fear followed by “nyet.”
History really did take a different course.
Does this film make me afraid of nuclear war? No, but I’m not sure if it was really meant to. It was instead meant to be a glimpse into what happened if the world went crazy. Which, in many ways, just makes it more prescient.
Threads (1984)– This was the transatlantic response to The Day After, which shows the feelings of a nation that often felt like it was just along for the ride during the Cold War.
Like The Day After, Threads was built on impressive credentials. It was directed by Mick Jackson (who would later direct The Bodyguard…yes, really. It’s the same guy.) and written by Barry Hines, who wrote the novel A Kestrel for a Knave, which was later adapted into the classic Kes. (Hines cowrote the screenplay for the film adaptation of his book.) Jackson consulted with the top experts of the time, including Carl Sagan, to realistically portray nuclear winter. Threads has long been considered the most traumatizing program ever to air on British television. It was only shown twice in two years on TV, then buried for twenty years. It was also aired in America on TBS, where the broadcast was personally introduced by Ted Turner. Recently the film was re-released on Blu-ray to capitalize its relevance to current events. It hasn’t been referenced in American media as much as some other nuclear dramas, but famed British TV writer and commentator Charlie Brooker devoted a segment of his How TV Ruined Your Life show to talk about Threads and how its overall message to millions of people was, “oh shit!”
Watching Threads now, Brooker’s two-word review may be the most poignant description of the film. Because unlike American TV, The U.K. was not afraid to show all the messiness of a nuclear war. There are scenes in this film of charred bodies, of people eating raw dead animals, a woman who survived the bombing cradling her child that did not survive, and so much other death and destruction.
Threads derives its name from the threads of society and the connections we make with our neighbors. They’re what make the world turn, but it’s also what will lead to our ruin.
The first act is a very typical Thatcher-era drama about young kids who accidentally get pregnant and must put their lives on hold. This is Jimmy and Ruth, who conceive their child in the back of a car. We do hear about the build-up of a crisis in the Middle East. (The Soviet Union invades Iran and the U.S. is wants them out.) But unlike The Day After, people in the U.K. barely take notice. Even Jimmy turns off a radio news bulletin to find a football match. Those who do and organize nuclear protests are laughed down for focusing on the wrong things.
During all the dramatic moments, Threads uses interstitials to explain what’s happening beyond the character’s lives. It makes for some harrowing reading about how many military targets exist in England. They even try to pinpoint a time when Russia would drop the bomb. What makes it worse is how it puts me in the mindset of a government bureaucrat trying to assess the impact of a bomb. 210 megatons may fall on the U.K. That sounds scary. But that doesn’t look like anything to me. Threads then shows me exactly what that would look like.
To me, the scariest parts come before the nuke. There is an uncertain fear in the population as they rush on grocery stores and try to navigate a closed highway system. Jimmy and Ruth wallpaper a new flat they’ve purchased to start their new life as the one piece of hope for the future we see. But it’s a rare happy scene as the state of emergency increases. We see roads being jammed, we see grocery stores being practically looted, and we see people evacuating and not wanting to take the time to look for their lost dog.
The actual nuke scene comes at 48 minutes into the film. Unlike The Day After, no one is caught off guard by the bomb. (Although there is an amusing moment when a man on the toilet sees the flash.) There are scenes of people trying to run as one person looks at the mushroom cloud and can barely utter, “Jesus Christ, they’ve done it.” We don’t really see the bomb’s effect people until much later.
And when we do, the film returns to its harrowing moments. The Sheffield emergency committee is trapped in their shelter and barely able to relay orders. (They eventually die when their air supply runs out.) We see corpses all over the rubble. There’s also moments of people turning their back on their fellow man. Ruth’s parents are killed by looters and Ruth herself is thrown out of a home that the government placed her in. But most of all, there’s no sense that anyone thinks they’ll return to the society that was destroyed. They’re barely clinging onto life as they eat raw dead rats, wondering if they’d be better off with their dead children. Jimmy’s father trades his lack pack of cigarettes for scotch, but then spits it out after he takes a drink. Even the pleasures of life are gone.
And unlike most other nuclear war films, Threads shows life for years after the war. The next generation is receiving rudimentary education from a VHS tape and can barely speak beyond words like “cahm-un” (Come on) and “gi-siv-it” (Give us it.) Even Ruth’s daughter Jane is unable to comprehend her own mother’s death, shaking her body and going, “Ruth. Work. Up.” We only see her showing emotion at the very end, when Jane finds out in her own way that her generation is the last one humanity will ever produce.
Threads is a frightening film. It doesn’t focus on spectacle and develops characters to live in its post-apocalyptic world. When people die, I feel an actual emotional impact. But only because the film treats the death that accompanies the war as a statistic and doesn’t bother to linger on any person. That absence of emotion is the greatest effect the bomb had.
Does this film make me afraid of nuclear war? If this film doesn’t make you afraid, none will.[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrHoMSRZOS4[/embedyt]
The War Game (1965)– The War Game is the earliest film on this list, having been made in 1965 and winning the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 1966. (Even though it is completely fictional.) But it was suppressed by the BBC for twenty years and not broadcast until 1985. The higher-ups were far too concerned about the impact the film would make on its audience.
Even 33 years after its initial broadcast by the BBC, it’s easy to see why. The film includes scenes that would barely be permissible on television today, much less in the 1960s. This is a film that features police officers shooting people dying of radiation poisoning to put them out of their misery, as doctors have no way to treat them. This is a film that features police later open firing on a food riot. We see bodies being burned, we see society break down. And all throughout is a newsreader is reading dry copy about what we’re seeing, before reminding us that similar things happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The film was directed by Peter Watkins, who made a career out of fake narrative documentaries. His Culloden, about the 1746 Battle of Culloden shot in a way that resembled news reports on the Vietnam War, practically invented the genre. His last film to date, The Commune, is a six-hour film about the Paris Commune and was shot much in the same way as The War Game. Watkins never broke into the mainstream, even though he’s still revered in the UK for what he managed to do.
So why do a documentary approach about a nuclear war? Because it demonstrates just how little the public would be prepared for it and how the government wasn’t helping them. One scene in The War Games has a man going door to door giving people a pamphlet on ways they can be prepared for the bombing. During a brief interview, he states that the pamphlets had been available for years but “didn’t sell well.” “They weren’t given out for free?” the interviewer asks. “No,” he replies, “They cost ninepence.” Think about that for a moment. The government was charging people for information that could potentially save their lives. (Or, even worse, it would do absolutely nothing to save them.)
The war itself was treated as something that was inevitable. The scariest part is the diagram at the start of the film, which notes how many military targets there are on the relatively tiny UK. People could be evacuated from cities, but they would have nowhere to go. But worst of all, the bombing was inevitable, and the NATO allies may be the first group to drop the bomb. People are asked if they were aware of this possibility. “No,” most reply. They also say that they’d want the UK to retaliate against Russia should the bombs fall – even if it won’t accomplish anything.
The worst moment of the film comes when children who survived the bombing are interviewed late in the film. They’re all asked what they want to be when the grow up. And each one gives the same answer – “nothing.” The film ends on a church service at Christmas, but no one seems to be interested in the meaning behind the ceremony. And the service makes “Silent Night” far more poignant.
The film hit me like a sucker punch, which is likely why the BBC banned it. At the time it was released – a mere two years after the Cuban missile crisis – people would genuinely believe they were getting a glimpse of their future. The last line of the film is about how the nuclear stockpile of the world has doubled within the last five years – and was still growing. Unfortunately, that message no longer seems quaint today.
Does this make me afraid of nuclear war? Very much so. It’s the one film that reminds me how ill prepared everyone is.[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nzd_VE-bfhA[/embedyt]
When the Wind Blows (1986) – When the Wind Blows is the final film on this list, and it’s also my pick for the best one. The film was based on a graphic novel by Raymond Briggs and directed by Jimmy Murakami, the same team that produced the famous animated adaptation of The Snowman. It’s the one film that answers the biggest question I have – why? Why, despite people knowing what nuclear weapons could do, did they still believe that any war was winnable? Why did they keep their arsenals and get involved in ground wars that could have gotten so quickly out of control? Didn’t they remember the destruction of the last World War?
As When the Wind Blows shows, that generation did remember. And that was the problem. They had become clouded in nostalgia for that time and still felt that, in the end, the good guys would unquestionably beat the evil horde. The millions of deaths didn’t matter, because it would all work out in the end.
That’s the view Jim and Hilda Bloggs, the only two characters shown in the film, hold. Both are pension aged, living out their golden years in rural England. Jim keeps abreast of the world’s events, while Hilda is more worried about her drapes and garden. There are announcements on the radio about how war is, at most, three days away. They call their son to make sure he’s preparing and are appalled when he laughs at them. They work to prepare their home for the bombing, following the instructions on government issued pamphlets.
Both have surprisingly fond memories of the London Blitz, and their actual perspectives seem to be forever be frozen in the 1940s. Neither of them knows who any modern head of state is, and both wonder if Lord Montgomery, who died nine years before this film was released, is still in charge of the troops. They even refer to Stalin as a “nice chap” for being on their side during World War II.
But they’re not irresponsible – or at least, they’re doing what they think is right in the face of oblivion. Jim has collected a bunch of pamphlets from the government that he believes will save them, just like they saved them during the Blitz. He follows every piece of advice in the government pamphlets to the letter, even when he finds contradictions. And throughout it all, they remain convinced that any subsequent Russian invasion would be repelled by the Americans.
When the bombs fall, it is still a shocking moment. We don’t see any people being killed, but we do see plenty of buildings blowing up. And we see Jim and Hilda run to their “inner core or refuge” and Jim calls Hilda a “stupid bitch” when she goes to check to make sure the oven is off. (“There’s no need to forget our manners just because a war’s on!” Hilda says as she demands an apology from Jim.) It’s all over very quickly, but the impact it makes is profound. The film’s limited scope means we were never going to get a full explanation of the war, but what we see works because we see how it affects the couple.
And then the bombing is over, while Jim and Hilda realize that all their preparation has been worthless. All their collected water is vaporized and there’s no sign of life outside their house. Still, they wait patiently for a rescue team to arrive and do what they can to survive. But they also seal their fate by doing some profoundly dumb things, like leaving their shelter early and drinking contaminated rain water.
These scenes don’t portray Jim and Hilda as stupid, despite how oblivious they are to their situation. Rather, they’re in deep denial about how wrong they were on the war. They both try to explain away the visible radiation sickness symptoms their showing. Other films were very direct about the impact fallout would have on people. Jim and Hilda must realize they’re dying, but they’re still stuck in the default “stiff upper lip” mode. The good guys are supposed to win a world war, and they’re the good guys. So why should they be victims? Their radiation sickness is a profound challenge to their worldview.
When the end comes, Jim and Hilda are still delirious. There’s no attempt at any self-reflection on their part. But then, arguably every moment after the bombing has been an act of reflection on their beliefs. The more in denial Jim and Hilda are, the sorrier we feel for them. As they’re dying (I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by saying people exposed to radiation die), Jim suggests they pray. “To who?” replies Hilda. That seems less of a delirious question and more of a serious indictment against the powers who failed them. And even then, Jim is unable to recite the prayer, confusing it with lines from Tennyson’s “Charge of the Light Brigade.” Even as they’re dying, they’re romanticizing war.
When the Wind Blows is a shocking indictment of the generation that birthed the Cold War. The old men in charge thought that this would be an opportunity to once again be heroes and defeat the bad guys. So what if the bombs were slightly bigger? That didn’t stop them the last time. But there would be no heroes and there would be no recovery no matter how much “hope” you had.
Does this film make me afraid of nuclear war? Honestly, I’m more scared to be one of the people that would be trapped in the aftermath.[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4h1lRqUBuSI[/embedyt]