Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Posing the 100 year Question: The Threads Answer

The most obvious way for humanity to be wiped out is by nuclear war. And it's nearly happened several times.

Somehow I can't worry too much about Osama bin Laden when I know that Leonid Brezhnev and Richard Nixon could have caused infinitely more destruction in 10 minutes than bin Laden could dream of doing in a year.

At the end of the Cold War days, back in 1984, I can remember the BBC broadcast of Threads, perhaps the most despairing, the bleakest account of Nuclear War ever seen on the TV or cinema screen. I had a nightmare that night of an awful wind blowing across the landscape. If you haven't seen it, or heard of it, here is a review from the IMdb website:

Absolutely terrifying, utterly disturbing. 9 September 2005
Having just purchased this on DVD I was eager to watch it after waiting years to see it after it was unofficially banned from ever being shown on the BBC again. I was four when it was first shown and my parents switched it off, too frightened to watch it themselves never mind let me see it.

I have to say it is absolutely terrifying and utterly terrifying in the extreme. This could have actually happened! I was impressed by the way the film conveyed what it would be like if thousands of megatons of atomic bomb was dropped on the U.K. Normal life comes to an abrupt stop. One minute people are shopping in their local supermarket, going to the pub and wallpapering their new flat and suddenly they are plunged into Hell. Civilisation is blown back into the stone age.

The most scary part was the way the authorities were shown unable to cope with the scale of the attack (perhaps why the BBC never aired it again). We always think that it could never be that bad because someone would come to our rescue, someone would maintain control. But no, the bombs / missiles keep raining down and down prompting one traumatised emergency committee member to scream, "not another one!" They just did not expect so devastation and are completely helpless. Later soldiers shoot people for food, people wish for death and the emergency committee, those meant to be running things, die in the supposed protective bunker, trapped by rubble.

Ten years later, nothing is back to normal. What young people there are behave like wild animals, raping and fighting and speaking in a bizarre caveman manner.

Since the Cold War ended people have stopped being frightened of nuclear weapons. Everybody in every country should watch this film and realise that if there ever was a nuclear war, still possible with growing tensions between a superpower and its rivals, those left alive would wish they had been caught in the blasts and killed outright.

Sometimes we need to be reminded that if the politicians get things wrong, civilisation could be effectively destroyed in an afternoon.


Will said...

I was shown that at school (and it now sits on my DVD shelf at home). Young and impressionable as we were, it was pretty traumatising.

Roger Owen Green said...

Your whole series on 100 years from now has been very interesting. Thank you.

From an American perspective, I worry because there seems to be this notion that since God made our country pre-eminent, that God will find a way to keep us always OK, an odd reading of history, I think.

Chris Black said...


More posts to come over the weekend!

Chris expresses his own views on this weblog.

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