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Threads (British Nuke War Film) and WTC similarities

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#1 of 11 OFFLINE   DarylC



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Posted September 14 2001 - 12:14 AM

About a month ago, I finally got around to watching the obscure British nuclear war movie "Threads". It gave me nightmares; now it feels like I've seen it for real.
I'll compare "Threads" to what's happened over the last few days:
On Tuesday, the world trade center was destroyed in a terrorist attack for no real reason.
In "Threads", the Soviet Union invades Iran for no real reason.
The US Goverment has effectively taken over all airports in the nation.
In "Threads", the British goverment took control over all airport in the nation.
Two aircraft carriers, and many warships are being sent to protect New York City.
In "Threads", many warships are sent to protect the North Sea Oil Rigs.
The news keeps on mentioning terms like "retaliation", "nuclear winter", "fallout", and "emergency powers". I'm sure most people usually asscociate those terms with nuclear war.
Gas stations are doubling and even tripling prices, just like the grocery stores in "Threads".
I'll just say that this movie scared the crap out of me. But when the scenes in New York are exactly like the ones in the film....
The remains of the World Trade Center look exactly like the remains of Sheffield (in the movie, silly Posted Image)
Rescue workers are clearing through the debris in the same manner the survivors of the nuclear war were clearing the crop fields.
They're not showing the bodies on national TV (of course not!) but I know what they look like, simply because of this movie.
I think that Threads, although somewhat dated and hard to find, is more important now than the standard "blowing up landmarks" movie. It doesn't destroy the world with the maniacal glee of a Hollywood movie. It is very serious; I think anyone with a strong stomach should watch it. I know everyone says nuclear war is impossible, but that is foolishness. If any of the nuclear powers decide to level a random country, the leaders of that nation should be thrown into a small, dirty room with nothing to eat but dead rats and moldy bread; strapped into a chair watching this movie until they go insane.

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#2 of 11 OFFLINE   Dean DeMass

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Posted September 14 2001 - 02:34 AM

I actually watched this film in my Current Events class, in High School, back in 1992. It is a very powerful and horrific film that I believe many people need to see. Threads also gave me nightmares after seeing it. The hospital scene is very graphic and I imagine that is what hospitals do look like after a tragic event. I hope I will never know.


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#3 of 11 OFFLINE   Rob Gillespie

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Posted September 14 2001 - 03:55 AM

I remember it too. I *think* it was made for TV by the BBC, but I'm not 100% on that. I certainly remember the BBC showing it, and not without some controversy.

It came out some time after The Day After. I think the intent was to show not only the effects on a real British city, but also the the devastating after-effects of nuclear winter which then was still a fairly new theory. There had been a similar film called The War Game, made in the 60s and again dealing with nuclear attack over Britain. That film was effectively banned until around the time Threads was shown.

I remember distinct images from both films even though it's been many years since it they have been broadcast.

[Edited last by Rob Gillespie on September 14, 2001 at 10:57 AM]
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#4 of 11 OFFLINE   andrew markworthy

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Posted September 15 2001 - 06:13 AM

Rob, Threads was made for Brit TV, largely as a reaction to the continued ban on The War Game. However, to give the full story:

In the 1960s, CND (the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) was at its height in Britain, with a lot of people, particularly church leaders and left wing politicians being against nuclear weapons. The War Game was a film made for the BBC giving an impression of what a nuclear strike would be like. The film was like a documentary, with filmed action sequences and a commentator describing what was happening. It was not particularly graphic by today's standards, but the overall tone was petrifying. To give one example: instead of showing lots of dead bodies, there is an interview with a soldier on burial detail. There's no hope of identifying the bodies, so they are taking jewellery or similar items from each body in the [undoubtedly forlorn] hope that the bodies can be subsequently identified. The camera then pans down to a large bucket full of wedding rings. It takes a moment for the implications of this to sink in, and the film gives you just long enough for it to do so before moving on to the next horrifying vignette. The BBC, under considerable pressure from the government of the time, didn't broadcast the film. However, it *was* permitted to show this film to private groups, and there were regular showings at CND meetings and similar right into the 1980s.

Threads was basically The War Game updated to the 1980s (I think you're right, Rob in saying it was made for the BBC; but it might at a pinch have been Channel 4). It concentrated on the impact of a nuclear strike on a group of not very appealing teenagers in Sheffield (an industrial town in the north of England and near a prime nuclear strike target). The violence is more graphic, but IMHO, it lacks the punch of TWG. After the broadcast of Threads, the fuss about TWG died away, and it too was broadcast. Threads and TWG certainly scared the crap out of me. Since both concentrated on what happened to Joe Public (i.e. folks like me) rather than top brass (as in part happened in The Day After) it hit home pretty hard. At the time it had tremendous resonance, because with Margaret Thatcher in power in Britain and Ronald Reagan in the USA, and the USSR looking increasingly unstable, nobody was really sure that nuclear was wasn't a pretty strong possibility.

#5 of 11 OFFLINE   Rob Gillespie

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Posted September 15 2001 - 06:59 AM

I can't remember when it was shown. I was still at school and remember watching it one night when my parents were out.

The big difference between The War Game and Threads was that half of the latter film dealt with the aftermath. Not only the first days after the strike, but months and years. I seem to remember the lead actress going into labour around the time of the attack. The story follows her new daughter right until she herself is an adult, among the rest of the scraps of humanity.

There was also an edition of the BBC documentary Horizon that dealt with the likely effects on a nuclear attack on London.

But I remeber seeing The Day After. Wasn't Jason Robards in that? Again, some of the imagery I still remember today.

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#6 of 11 OFFLINE   Larry Schneider

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Posted September 15 2001 - 08:23 AM

The War Game was shown in art theaters here; it made quite an impression on me.

#7 of 11 OFFLINE   Richard Travale

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Posted September 15 2001 - 08:28 AM

I remember seeing "Threads"(I had forgotten what it was called though) on TV here in Canada a while after "The Day After" was shown. It was supposed to be more about the aftermath and was supposed to be far more graphic. I remember at this time being really freaked out about nuclear war and these shows only made it worse.


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#8 of 11 OFFLINE   andrew markworthy

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Posted September 15 2001 - 06:43 PM

Rob, you're absolutely right that Threads spent longer on the aftermath. The story was told pretty much from the viewpoint of a group of individuals (who gradually got fewer in number). However, not all that much time was spent on the daughter, if I remember correctly. The daughter is born at what is meant to be Christmas time (spot the deliberate irony) and turns out to be mentally retarded. You then jump about 14 years, to a time where groups of thin, starved diseased people are scratching a bare living from farming the land. The mother dies of cancer, the daughter is raped and conceives a child which is stillborn and a mutant. This is all pretty upsetting, but the film has an especial poignancy for me. I watched the film with my girlfriend at the time, and when the mother died of cancer, she said 'that is the one thing I dread dying of'. Just guess what she died of a few years later.

#9 of 11 OFFLINE   Seth Paxton

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Posted September 15 2001 - 07:08 PM

I thought The Day After was the American response to Threads, not the other way around. For some reason I remember Threads coming first.

Yeah, I remember Robards being in TDA, and it also spent at least half of the film with the aftermath. That is the key to these films so that the public realizes the utter lack of "survival" as we envision it from a nuclear war.

Of course, these films were born out of the Cold War. It seems clear that Russian and the US are hyper-aware of the dangers of such actions. It now seems unthinkable that either country would seek to engage in nuclear combat, even if nuked themselves (ie, terrorist attack).

#10 of 11 OFFLINE   Neil J

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Posted September 16 2001 - 07:33 PM

I'm just curious if anyone remembers a film just like the ones mentioned here but it was from a Russian perspective? I believe it was the early 80's.

#11 of 11 OFFLINE   Rob Willey

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Posted September 17 2001 - 04:30 AM

I thought Threads was equally effective as The Day After in showing the after effects of nuclear war. Another movie that came out around the same time was Testament with Jane Alexander. Together they make up what I call "the gloom and doom trio".

Back OT, one major difference between Threads and last week's attacks: one word -- Radiation!


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