Monday, January 23, 2006


Every mushroom cloud has a silver lining

I collect films about nuclear war. So far I have 11 on my shelf, ranging from the utterly brilliant (Threads) to the atrocious (The Day After). Some of the most chillingly effective ones don’t show the actual explosions – The War Game, a pseudo-documentary about the effects of a limited nuclear strike on Kent, and Testament, which deals with the toxic aftermath on a small Californian town, are good examples – but in the bulk of them, the star is the mushroom cloud.

There’s something horribly beautiful in this iconic image. There’s the devastating flash, followed by a moment of terrible calm before the cloud starts worming its way up and spreading out. Witnesses to the many above-ground tests during the fifties and sixties have said that the sight of the cloud forming exerts a hypnotic effect on the observer. Reading up about all this as a teenager, I was surprised and I must admit a little disappointed by how quickly the cloud dissipates; I’d always assumed it hung around like a monument for a few days at least.

When I was fourteen, in the mid-eighties, I was convinced like many others that nuclear war was inevitable. I woke in the mornings wondering whether the world was going to be torn apart that day. I wasn’t scared, exactly, more suffused with a sense of all-pervasive dread. Ironically, a nuclear exchange was probably less likely then than it is now; more crazy people have nukes today than had them in those days, and barring the admittedly real possibility of an accident, neither the West nor the Soviets were stupid enough to fire first.

You can keep your biological and chemical weapons. The world would recover from even a massive attack with them. Nukes are the real worry. I never bought the utterly stupid idea of unilateral disarmament, and as long as the world is the way it is, I’d prefer Britain to have lots of guns and bombs as a defensive and deterrent measure. But may Satan wreak eternal and terrible pain on the scum who pushes the button first.

The Day After... which one is that? Is it the Dean Cain one? Cos thats really fucking shit.

All time best atomic film must be Dr Strangelove. Okay, so the shit doesn't go down until the end, but it still counts... right?
Don't think Dean Cain was in it... it was a 1983 TV movie and set in Kansas. Parts of it were quite disturbing but the special effects were so naff I laughed most of they way through, which was hardly the intention of the filmmakers. Yes, Strangelove is the bollocks and is at the top end of my 11.

i remember that.. in the 80's, my mom remembers it.. in the 50's..

then i start to fucking think. it's never going to go away! there will always be kids that grew up with the threat of it, the worry of it. how fucking sad.
i awys thot it was cool. i mean — FLASH! BLAMMO! — an ur off teh hook.

if ur vaperized u wont givw a crap. trus mw on tht.
It was never the blast that bothered me, HHH; it was the fallout that got up my nose, so to speak, and the idea of an utterly ruined humankind afterwards.
wel itd be a chagne of pace atlwast. tath conts for somhting surley?
What like that Brian Aldiss novel where he has to assassinate the preznit to start a war cos there's too many people? What's it called? You know HA, what is it?
Also, threads is the best.
Yes, what is it, HHH?

Rob: Threads makes me want to cry every time I see it, especially the final scenes.
Does anyone remember a nuclear war type movie that ENDS with a mushroom cloud, and Satan laughing in it? I saw it when I was a kid but don't recall the name and have Never found it...
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