Dir: Mick Jackson
Star: Karen Meagher, Reece Dinsdale, David Brierly, Henry Moxon
Cert / Year: 15 - R / 1984
Format: DVD R2

This is probably the most difficult review I will ever write, as Threads is without a doubt the most disturbing film I ever seen.

Threads is an exploration of what would happen to society during and after a nuclear war. The story is seen from the perspective of two average working class families who live in Sheffield. In particular it is the story of the young couple who link both families, and who are about to get married after finding out that girl, Ruth, is pregnant. It shows their lives in the build up and during the attack. It then visits the characters again at various points in the following twenty years.

Threads is a TV movie (originally shown as a series I think) made by the BBC. It is uncompromising and brutal in its realism (this is no Mad Max). In many ways it tells the same story and the American TV movie The Day After, however where that movie pulled its punches Threads does not. The Day After although bleak and upsetting, at points seemed a little lightweight and maybe even patriotically optimistic. Threads on the other hand paints a picture so black and so realistic that you feel (or fear) that this is probably much closer to the truth.

The film is shown in pseudo documentary style with a voice over and captions detailing salient facts. These are then graphically illustrated using the characters from the families. Imagine seeing a nice granny talking about the family wedding. Then seeing her hiding in her basement, as the voice over lists the initial casuality figures. Then when the voice over coldly informs us of the number of deaths from radiation poisoning seeing rats feeding on her corpse. This is disturbing indeed. In this was rather than losing the realism this documentary style actually reinforces the horror of nuclear war.

What is truly remarkable about the film is that it was achieved within the usual BBC budget. The effects and locations used convince totally. The only criticism is a couple of dodgy mushroom clouds at the beginning. The direction and acting are both of the highest quality. Impressive considering that no big name actors were used and this is a television production.

The story \ script by Barry Hines (Kes) is meticulously researched and this is where realism comes from. While it has dated slightly with the dissolution of the communist block (and the abundance of Ford Cortinas) this does not effect the stories main message. Only near the very end of the film that I feel the realism slips, when we start to see the reminants of humanity attempting to rebuild some form society. This may be understandable as no one can really tell what would happen under these circumstances.

One of the most effective methods employed by the film makers is the revisiting of locations after a period of time has passed. This can be illustrated by the scenes inside Ruth's family cellar and the decaying corpse of her gran, and with the deaths of all of the staff in the civil emergency control room. If this sounds awful, it is. The whole film presents some of the most shocking images ever seen, and what is worse is this could and would happen in a nuclear war. This is not fiction, but as mentioned, the script is based upon the best facts available.

So if it is that horrific why watch it? It is my opinion that everyone (especially anyone in politics) should watch this film. It is a real education, after watching this you will not be in favour of nuclear weapons. Don't get me wrong this isn't just a documentary, it is a highly effective drama. It is brilliantly written, acted, and produced. However what it isn't is entertainment, and for this reason I have decided not to give it a rating.

It is like watching a road accident, you can't watch but you can't look away either. Threads is a horrible, terrible, brilliant piece of work.

Reviewed by Glitz Back Top Home