In 1984, a television movie played by the BBC scarred an entire generation. Directed by Mick Jackson (who went on to direct Chattahoochee, The Bodyguard, and Volcano) and written by Barry Hinds, Threads is a docudrama that portrayed the probable after-effects of a nuclear war. This includes the de-evolution of civilization, such as the loss of language, and the horrifying effects of fallout and nuclear winter.
Threads stars Reece Dinsdale (Coronation Street), David Brierly (Doctor Who) and Karen Meagher in her debut, as the hapless, working-class Sheffield, England residents who must deal with the nightmare that is nuclear war. Performances are so real that you forget you're watching fiction, which is surely the point in a film like this.
A great deal of research with consulting scientists such as Carl Sagan went into the preproduction efforts of the film, and it shows. Used to great effect --- and often --- are the frequent teletype communications onscreen that literally spell out what would happen during a nuclear apocalypse.
At a recent screening of Threads at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, Mick Jackson (who was on hand for a q&a) told the crowd that we haven't been so close to annihilation since 1953. Of course, the Doomsday Clock is now at two minutes to midnight.
That means that Threads is as timely as it was when it aired in the '80s. It also means that --- politely --- this society has got to get it together if we're to avoid a man-made apocalypse.
Be warned: if you're the sensitive type, this film will hurt you. It's might even if you're not, because films like these are meant to hurt. They're created as warnings in order to foster change, and apparently, we need them, because haven't learned much from the Atomic Age and the Cold War. Everything old is new again, and if we're not careful, we won't have a future.
Filmed for TV, Threads is in the 4:3 ratio, and there's a lot of grainy footage (both historical and filmed for the production). However, this feels authentic and adds to the mission of the film. It's worth noting that even so, Threads was restored from a 2K scan and sounds good.
There are some illuminating featurettes included on the blu-ray, as you can see below. My copy is the special edition with a lenticular cover that changes from a normal day in Sheffield to the same setting, but utterly destroyed.
- Audio Commentary with Director Mick Jackson Moderated By Film Writer Kier-La Janisse and Severin Films’ David Gregory
- Audition For The Apocalypse: Interview With Actress Karen Meagher
- Shooting The Annihilation: Interview With Director Of Photography Andrew Dunn
- Destruction Designer: Interview With Production Designer Christopher Robilliard
- Interview With Film Writer Stephen Thrower
- US Trailer
You can pick up a copy of the Blu-ray, DVD, or special edition Blu-ray (out on 1/30) with lenticular cover at the Severin Films site here. Beware, it's likely that you're going to need to do something happy after viewing the film --- or simply, a drink or three.