on 9 September 2005
This film is frightening, absolutely hideous. The film woke up fears in me that had lain dorment for years and I sure it will do the same for many people who have been lulled into a false sense of security since the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Although the Berlin wall has collapsed and Russia is now our ally, the nuclear message is perhaps more relevant today with growing tensions between the U.S. and its enemies and terrorists trying to get hold of dirty bombs.
Truly one of the most frightening films I have ever witnessed, much more shocking than any horror film. Even "The Exorcist" doesn't come close to showing man's capacity for evil and the brutalisation of innocence.
This film brings it home how close the world came to ending. There is no hope in this film, no way out, no rescue, no happy ending, no winners. Only death and the end of civilisation. Britain, and we assume everywhere else, is plunged back into an irradiated Stone Age.
For me, the most frightening part is when a traumatised Civil Defence expert, locked in an underground bunker as the USSR drops thousands of megatons of atom bomb onto Sheffied screams in horror, "not another one!". That's all they can do! Completely impotent against the bombs.
We see society break down right in front of our eyes. The threads of civilisation come apart: one minute people are shopping in the city centre and going to the pub, next minute...
A tremendous but horrifying film.
I don't recommend this for sensitive viewers or people with a weak disposition. This film is not for the faint-hearted and not something to watch if you want to be entertained.
on 30 January 2003
If you are like myself,have a liking for honest,gritty and 'straight between the eyes' drama,Threads is about as good/bad as it gets.Certainly not for the faint-hearted and brutally honest, it covers a fictional(although plausible)classic cold-war storyline of Warsaw pact/NATO forces clashing; over a very current political and economic flashpoint(namely Persian Gulf oil supplies) utimately leading to a massive east/west strategic nuclear exchange and the realisation of all mankind's nightmares in the aftermath.Centered around two families in Sheffield,linked by a respective son and daughter relationship, it traces the rapid,tense political and military build-up through the eyes of these families interspersed with radio/TV news background clips and documentary type fact files.It also addresses the city's preparations for war and civil defence measures(Think Blue Peter and you will have some level of how robust/laughable these measures are.See the recently released VHS of 'Protect and Survive' for more info on those public info films...in the perspective of the circumstances ,the accompanying jingle music has a 'Friday the 13th' feel for all the reasssurance it creates.It is also,famously, narrated by Patrick Allen-the voice of doom.) The certain and predictable public order break-down and panic becomes more and more manifest as the military clashes begin and enevitably one side brings nuclear weapons into the equation at tactical level;starting the uncontrollable escalation and the beginning of the end.The following all-out nuclear strike on Sheffield(and the west) is managed and shot quite credibly even with 1984 TV effects and pulls no punches with the immediate and subsequent horrific damage/death wrought to property and people.Melting milk bottles,howling firestorms,buildings sundered and flattened like sandcastles before the waves....charred bodies,limp and dying pets on the street,hideous burns and radiation sickness are only the most readily apparent of the horrors yet to come.The scenes are without doubt, graphic and distressing, as befits such a topic.It concludes with the grim and pityful struggle for survival over the coming 13 years and the next generation of surviving children growing up with little language/literary skills and an extremely bleak future in a medieval existance.Threads is a land-mark piece of drama in world television,it deals with a subject so awful and extrapolates the consequences all the way to their logical conclusions; leaving the viewer with no gloryfication or glamorising of nuclear war or nuclear weapons......just the honest,visceral,grim but compelling truth.If you want something more in the vein of mills and boon then watch 'The day after',it by contrast, is very lame indeed and i would suggest a viewing of 'The War Game';now declassified and on dvd.It was the forerunner and probable model for which Threads was scripted around twenty years later.....deemed too shocking/controversial at the time(BBC-1965)to be aired and was suppressed ,for twenty years, by the BBC. I, for one, am glad that this has been made and someone had the professional guts to realise it......the public shouldn't be patronised and molly-coddled just for political expediency.More of a public information film/docu-drama than entertainment;everyone should see this at once in their life.....the world is still a very turbulent place and Threads is just as relevent now as it was at the height of Cold-war hysteria.After all, the lines are not so nearly as clear as they once were.....
on 4 April 2006
Threads....set in Sheffield in the early 80's this film depicts the build-up to nuclear war, a strike on Sheffield itself and the aftermath.
Words can barely describe how profoundly disturbing this film is, especially if you lived through the era as the events preceding the attack are eerily familiar and once again have relevance given the various troubling political situations that we find the world in today. What was a film about a certain time in history has now become a timely warning about what could possibly be again.
I revisited this film when studying film at university and was actually reluctant to watch it again because of the impact it had on me the first time around (I'd have been about 9 or 10 years old then). The effect was as massive on me 20 years later and I found myself transfixed with horror. The brutal effects of mankind's most indiscriminately destructive and dirty weaponry are shown with no sparing of the audiences feelings, there is no happy ending, no hope and no winners, how this ever got to be aired on television, especially in the 80's, is remarkable.
The nearest comparison I can give to this would probably be the BBC docudrama 'The War Game' and although this is more obviously a dramatization rather than a documentary style recreation it is still highly effective and absolutely chilling.
I recommend this film wholeheartedly; it is shocking and disturbing for the right reasons.
on 28 January 2002
Threads is a no-holds barred, no punches pulled account of the horror of nuclear war. There are scenes still burned into my mind, despite the fact that I last saw it over a year ago. The milk bottles melting on the doorstep when the fireball hits, the woman peeing in terror at the sight of the mushroom cloud, and the devastated hospital full of dead and dying babies hit you for six.
Threads is not a slick, polished Hollywood producton, but a narrated documentary style "play" which depicts the human tragedy of nuclear war in the most horrifying, and presumably realistic way possible.
The government, police, armed forces, schools, hospitals, power, food and any resemblance of organised society are wiped out with the blast. In the shattered remains, people kill each other for scraps of food. Babies are stillborn and deformed. Bodies lie charred in what remains of the streets, and kids grow up unable to speak in a non-existent society. The ruling authorities are gone, and 13 years on, the city looks the same as it did 10 minutes after the Bomb. It's terrifying and numbing, yet holds a grim fascination.
This film doles out shock after shock, yet despite the sheer unadulterated horror, it is not gratuitous gore and violence in the Hollywood sense. Instead, it's the work of a film-maker depicting one of the most horrible subjects known to man, in a way that leaves the audience under no illusion as to the realities.
The most powerful, gripping and shocking film ever made. Everyone should see it at least once.
on 15 April 2007
What can I add to the other reviews of Threads? I'm not the least bit surprised that this little-known work of dark, twisted genius has become a cult classic.
As another reviewer said, standard 'horror' movies like Saw or Hostel are scary because you know all along that it's tomato ketchup. Threads is absolutely bloody terrifying, because the scenario it depicts could happen, did happen (to an extent) in 1945 and in all likelihood will probably happen again one day in the future. It takes an event that no-one would ever want to imagine or think about too deeply and hits you in the face with it, in all its harrowing, visceral, nightmarish hideousness.
Do not make my mistake and watch Threads alone, or late at night. If you do, don't expect to sleep that night, or for the next few nights. Fully expect to be haunted by burning cats and charred babies. I can only reinforce what others have said - that this is definitely not for children, young teenagers or those of a nervous / sensitive disposition.
Regardless of its powerful and important message (it has certainly affected my opinion of the kind of governments capable of developing such wicked devices) I can understand why it would seem that many were traumatised by Threads as teenagers. Teachers should seriously consider the audience before screening this in class.
Threads represents the pinnacle of the twentieth century British tradition of post-apocalyptic fiction, a genre of which I am a big fan, but unlike most books / movies in this category, the scenario remains highly plausible and there is not the faintest glimmer of hope at the end, not for anyone.
A must-watch, but only if you think you can handle it.
on 10 November 2005
The original screening of this TV film terrified any number of viewers and reviewers (and even traumatised - look at what other Amazonians say!!) back in the mid 1980s. It is so thoroughly realistic in its suburban English setting (naturally mildly dating it), and in its realisation of the underlying emotion of 'real people', that it's impossible to feel detached.
I personally (in my teens) couldn't stomach it all, and only watched the full film on a worn video in 1998. It brought back the full horror, the pessimism, the complete sense of insecurity of growing up under threat in the 1980s. The political climate may have changed (or has it? Look at the fictional news reports in the film . . .) but the 'Threads' of society are what the film is really about. Are they stronger now, or weaker? What would happen if such a thing happened in the 2000s? This is why the film is still relevant.
I watch this film occasionally, at the very least because the feeling of suspense is so skillful. Ordinary, domestic, things are going on - and then a teleprinter will chatter a fragment of doom over the top. At first matter-of-fact, and gradually more chill sets in. Characters can't sleep (neither will you!), and when the mushroom cloud finally appears, you can only feel the awe voiced by one of the characters, frozen to the spot: '. . . they've done it . . .'
I suspect a lot of people were haunted by that phrase. You care for all the different characters, empathise with them. And then . . . the world we know vanishes (even dear old Woolworths) and hope goes with it, forever. The grating roar of poison wind sets in. This packs a punch, and when the film finishes, you'll want to open the window and breath fresh air, quite honestly. Back in the 1980s, I'd already turned off. Watch it now - as history lesson, science fiction, or powerful drama.
As a young teenager in the 80's - hard to believe now - but we lived for a period of a couple of years believing that nuclear war was more than a possibility - it was imminent, and we were bombarded with statistics about what would happen if you were standing at a window at x distance from the epicentre, what fallout would do to you and how to dispose of the dead. Threads appeared in this climate and it left an impression on me that was never erased. Overnight i went from thinking it would be somehow cool to survive an apocalypse (i.e. Stephen King The Stand, BBC's Survivors), to believing that the lucky ones would not have survived. I watched it again recently and it has lost none of its power. In a nutshell, the plot follows a build up to a nuclear exchange and then follows the aftermath. It presents everything from a point of view that is completely convincing. From a dramatic point of view, it's interesting to note the way the treatment of character becomes insignificant after the bombs drop, the way survivors are reduced to the level of animals trying to survive. It is a horrific story, which doesn't flinch from showing any aspect of nuclear war and to my knowledge has never been equaled. The American equivalent 'The Day After', although also very good, is far more driven by standard dramatic concepts, that characters still have 'a story' that needs a conclusion, and although in a sense you could argue that Threads does that too, it far more clearly conveys the idea that everything is gone, and the characters we follow just happen to be the ones we were watching already.
Shocking and chilling - impossible not to be profoundly moved by this.
on 1 August 2000
I was about 15 when I first saw this nightmarish TV film. It scared the hell out of me then and it's impact now is no less harsh, despite the apparent thawing of the cold war. We are guided through the international problems leading to the eventual nuclear attack, in an all to realistic way, by news bulletins and glimpses of newspaper headlines. The tension leading to the outbreak of war is almost unbearable, made worse by a familiar belief among some of the characters that nothing will happen! We see the immediate horror of the attack; heat, blast the fallout settling on the flattened Sheffield. More importantly we are forced to face the reality that even 13 years later we are still scavenging around in the ruins of our cities looking for scraps of food. There is no government, no health care and very little value stamped on human life. As we are reminded by the CND speaker addressing the crowd earlier in the film 'You can not win a nuclear war!' Things may have changed in the politics of east & west, but the threat remains real and the concept of 'Mutual assured destruction' still applies in the 21st century as it did in the late 20th. The American attempt at a nuclear disaster movie 'The Day after' was not a patch on this, inevitably watered down so as not cause the American public too much distress, and shatter their belief that winning a nuclear war was a possibility. However, lets get one thing straight about 'Threads' It has NO entertainment value at all. Thats why it works.
on 9 January 2001
What an absolute nightmare! The prospect of living (or existing) after a nuclear attack has never been portrayed with more realism than this absolutely shocking but totally gripping film. The images are intense although don't expect ground breaking effects. This film doesn't need them and keeps you focused more on the characters and their misery. The matter of fact delivery of the narrator as he tells us how many people may eventually die(give or take a million) is even more shocking than some of the things on the film. If you are feeling slightly low don't watch this as there are no redeeming features. The threads of civilisation are still severed 15 years after the attack.
To be honest the DVD isn't really much cop - the picture is full frame which is the correct ratio anyway and quite grainy, but with a film as good as this who cares.
The threat of nuclear war may have slightly diminished since the early 1980s but let this film be a stark warning to anyone with their finger on the button.
on 26 April 2016
I have just watched "Threads" for the first time. It is a deeply disturbing film and I feel emotionally drained as a result of watching it. I live in Sheffield, I recognise the places in the film and, for me, that makes it all the more personal. We see those portrayed in the film transported from their modern lives in a modern city through the trauma of the attack, its immediate aftermath and into a rapid regression towards a lawless state of day-to-day survival were, even years after the attack, subsistence farming is the norm and civilisation as they knew it is gone forever. It is really grim.
I am glad I have watched it and, like others here, I think it should be mandatory viewing for those with their finger on the button. I was prompted to watch this having recently visited Cuba where, a mere 50 years ago, the siting of Russian nuclear missiles within striking distance of American cities brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. Having read the story of the Cuban missile crisis I shudder at what might have been and how close we came to Threads being our reality.