Threads looked at the hopelessness and outright nightmarishness of The Day After and said, “Hold my warm beer.”
Sure, it has the big picture story of the nuclear war between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., but it’s really about the little people of Sheffield as they deal with the riots leading up to the war and then the cold reality of two-thirds of all British homes being destroyed the deaths of 30 million people as nuclear war comes to England.
Unlike the 1950’s duck and cover films, this movie pulls no punches when it comes to what happens next after the bombs fall. Food can barely be grown, people die at a young age from radiation-related diseases, nuclear winter sets in and mankind slides back to the dark ages.
Writer Barry Hines told the website Off the Telly, “Our intention in making Threads was to step aside from the politics and – I hope convincingly – show the actual effects on either side should our best endeavours to prevent nuclear war fail.”
Made under the name Beyond Armageddon, it’s amazing that this even got on the air in England. A previous film, a mock documentary entitled The War Game, was so upsetting to BBC execs that it didn’t air for decades, as they were convinced that it was so upsetting that people would commit suicide after watching it. It aired on July 31, 1985, the fortieth anniversary week of the bombing of Hiroshima, right after a repeat of Threads.
This is absolutely the roughest movie about nuclear war that I’ve ever seen. There is no hope whatsoever and as we’ve seen over the last year, the governments and services of the world are ill-equipped to even survive when the worst happens. It aired in the U.S. on TBS, as Ted Turner thought that it was an important movie that Americans needed to see. When he couldn’t find a sponsor for it, he paid for its airing out of his own pocket.
You know what screws me up? This brutal and uncompromising movie was directed by Mick Jackson, who went on to make The Bodyguard and the Dana Carvey movie Clean Slate.
This was also shot in the same abandoned hospital as Cabaret Voltaire’s video for “Sensoria.”