Nuclear war, a topic that was put largely to the back of people’s minds as the 1980’s drew to a close and the Berlin Wall fell, has once again reared its ugly head – Donald Trump’s cavalier approach to using nuclear weapons, the casual threatening of ‘fire and fury’, North Korea refusing to put a stop to its nuclear weapons program – all of this has pushed the threat back to the front of everyone’s minds once again. It is no surprise that people are investing in underground bunkers and looking for a good online outdoor survival store so they can head for the hills at a moment’s notice. The recent move of the Doomsday clock’s hands is the closest the world has been to Armageddon since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. It is a dangerous world that we live in if people have forgotten the lessons that history has taught us within living memory – so maybe it is time to dig these films out of the archives and remember the horror of what nuclear war actually looks like….
The War Game 1962 –Written and directed by Peter Watkins in 1967, this film was originally made to be shown on the BBC but was banned at the last minute amidst worries that the film might cause upset to the public. At the time, many people didn’t understand the harsh realities of the bomb and how it would affect the world differently to the Second World War. The film itself is a documentary style film set in Kent, showing how poorly prepared Britain was for nuclear war and with some truly horrifying scenes. This film still packs a punch today, as you will realise that we are no better prepared than we were in 1967 for this horrific event.
When the Wind Blows – Better known for the classic festive film ‘The Snowman’ Raymond Briggs turns his attention to nuclear war in this superbly animated tale about an adorable old couple, following the ‘protect and survive’ government leaflet when nuclear war breaks out in Britain. Sometimes funny, but mostly tragic, it focuses on the everyday lives of a ‘normal’ old couple in Britain, desperately trying to understand the new world that is unravelling before their eyes. It will certainly draw a tear to you eye.
Threads – The film that is head and shoulders above them all, you will never forget it! Barry Hines and Mick Jacksons’ horrific portrayal of nuclear war breaking out in Sheffield was first shown in 1984 – and the night it was shown was dubbed ‘the night the nation didn’t sleep’. There is not one film closer to the reality of nuclear war than this one. Painstakingly researched, Jackson and Hines spoke to scientists, psychiatrists, and military experts to ensure that this film was as real as they came – and it really is. One word of advice – don’t watch before bed!