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Nuclear War: A Guide To Armageddon
January 22, 2013 4:05 PM   Subscribe

Nuclear War: A Guide To Armageddon This 1982 documentary looks at the effects of a 1 MT nuke detonating a mile above London's St Paul's Cathedral. Written and produced by "Threads" director Mick Jackson. Ludovic Kennedy narrates. Previously. Meta.
posted by KokuRyu (46 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
Part Two

Part Three
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:31 PM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, yeah, NOW I remember why I spent my childhood fighting insomnia.

Not that I was ever exposed to this film directly, but as somebody who couldn't read enough about 'what if' when it came to nuclear weapons (and parents who were pretty permissive of all things science), this film (or at least the first 9 minutes I watched) is pretty much how some nights looked when I closed my eyes -- just with more American looking locales -- from 2nd through 5th grade.

On a much lighter note, every time I see an overhead shot of London, I can't help but sing the percussion part of the Eastenders theme music, which did make this experience more amusing.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:34 PM on January 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


There's a cute black cat in part two at 4:39.
posted by lefty lucky cat at 4:46 PM on January 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Damn. I knew I was to chipper today.
posted by Mezentian at 4:47 PM on January 22, 2013


Related: Best IMDB page ever.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:54 PM on January 22, 2013 [12 favorites]


My mom got so freaked out after watching The Day After that she decided that she wanted to console me. Except that I was on the toilet, and I was thirteen, and having your mother BARGE ARE YOU OKAY HONEEEE was not welcome at all. I think she thought I cared nothing about the coming end of the world.
posted by angrycat at 4:57 PM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think this film was a perverse incentive to boost a flagging economy.

If you stay in the City to strive and work hard, you'll get a quick, fast death. If you go home and lounge about in leafy Hamsptead or Holland Park, you'll be horribly mutilated.

Very Thatcherite.
posted by TheAlarminglySwollenFinger at 5:04 PM on January 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


MCMikeNamara: "Oh, yeah, NOW I remember why I spent my childhood fighting insomnia."

Yeah, that was me as well. I used to lie awake at night staring at my bedroom window waiting for that flash.
posted by Splunge at 5:10 PM on January 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Didn't the Simpsons riff on this in that one episode where the meteor was headed for Springfield and the scientist was giving ranges of death and injury?
posted by Renoroc at 5:11 PM on January 22, 2013


Parts of this remind me a little bit of Monty Python's How Not To Be Seen. I found myself laughing at the least appropriate places because I was thinking of that sketch.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:17 PM on January 22, 2013


WHY did I watch a clip of Threads just now.

WHY.

WHY.

....I'm gonna go watch something with duckies and horsies right now.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:19 PM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


related (Doomsday Preppers)
posted by stbalbach at 5:21 PM on January 22, 2013


In the event of a nuclear attack, keep your pumpkins away from windows, people.
posted by 4ster at 5:22 PM on January 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


The effects of a 1 MT nuke detonating a mile above you?

Everything over a shockingly large area will be knocked down, set on fire and irradiated.
posted by Relay at 5:28 PM on January 22, 2013


NOW I remember why I spent my childhood fighting insomnia...

Why did your insomnia go away when you became an adult? There are still thousands upon thousands of nukes out there in silos and submarines, waiting.

Continued proliferation to India and Pakistan has made the odds of a small-scale regional nuclear war higher than ever. Small-scale: I'm not saying they wouldn't get their hair mussed, but we're talking ten million people killed, twenty million tops.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 5:29 PM on January 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


>The effects of a 1 MT nuke detonating a mile above you?

Everything over a shockingly large area will be knocked down, set on fire and irradiated.


I think a lot of people at the time (this film was produced before Threads and The Day After) were probably unaware of what nuclear war might look like. You couldn't just Google "Hiroshima" or whatever - you'd have to go to the library and actively look for a book, or maybe it might appear on one of the four channels your TV picked up.

When I was in middle school in the mid-eighties, at the height of the Cold War, a lot of kids thought that because we were in a small provincial city on an island off the west coast of North America, we would be safe.

I pointed out that there was a major naval base in our town, and we looked right out on Juan de Fuca Strait, the route from Bremerton and the missile sub bases to the Pacific Ocean. Just like in On The Beach (which talks graphically about the major devastation of the southwest coast of Vancouver Island), we would be nuked, and nuked bad.

I do recall having nightmares of nuclear explosions going off. It was also pretty frightening when they tested the air raid siren a few blocks away.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:39 PM on January 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Threads/Grave of the Fireflies double feature.
posted by ersatz at 6:00 PM on January 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


"MCMikeNamara: "Oh, yeah, NOW I remember why I spent my childhood fighting insomnia."

"Yeah, that was me as well. I used to lie awake at night staring at my bedroom window waiting for that flash."

"I do recall having nightmares of nuclear explosions going off. It was also pretty frightening when they tested the air raid siren a few blocks away."


Ditto. Grown-ups are real assholes.
posted by sourwookie at 6:05 PM on January 22, 2013


Why did your insomnia go away when you became an adult?
Because adults are supposed to have a sense of mortality that one learns to deal with , and 8 year olds usually don't?
posted by efalk at 6:11 PM on January 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Mine is the last voice that you will ever hear, also equally chilling.
posted by NordyneDefenceDynamics at 6:15 PM on January 22, 2013


Didn't the Simpsons riff on this in that one episode where the meteor was headed for Springfield and the scientist was giving ranges of death and injury?

Complete with this excellent graphic.
posted by kersplunk at 6:22 PM on January 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Peter Watkins did this for the BBC in his film "The War Game" back in the late 60's. It won an Oscar for best documentary the year it was released. The BBC refused to show it for something like 25 years. It's on DVD. It will scare the crap out of you. It's a documentary of a "real" event. You are there. One of the most powerful and gut-wrenching things put to celluloid.
posted by njohnson23 at 7:03 PM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's Tuesday.Time for our weekly Threads/Day After thread.
posted by item at 7:06 PM on January 22, 2013


For njohnson23 above, and everyone else: "The War Game" on YouTube.
posted by hangashore at 7:19 PM on January 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Cold War nuclear paranoia is definitely in the top ten reasons I'm such a fucking nutball.
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:23 PM on January 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


It will scare the crap out of you. It's a documentary of a "real" event. You are there. One of the most powerful and gut-wrenching things put to celluloid.

It doesn't sound possible, but to me the War Game is even more disturbing than Threads.

I think it's the ultra-realism combined with black and white.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:48 PM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it's the ultra-realism combined with black and white.

Just watched it for the first time. Eeeeeeeeeh.
posted by amorphatist at 8:43 PM on January 22, 2013


When I was 10 or 11 I woke up from a nightmare which ended with my classmates and I huddled under our desks waiting for the flash as emergency alarms went off...and at that moment there was a fire truck or ambulance going past my house with the siren going. Even after I realized I was safe I was so worked up I almost vomited.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:23 PM on January 22, 2013


It's funny, I grew up during all this and everywhere I lived seemed to be nuked in a Mick Jackson film. This left me blasé about nuclear war but forever looking over my shoulder for Mick Jackson.
posted by fallingbadgers at 10:11 PM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Noooo grim nuclear holocaust videos with British narrators my secret weeeeaknessss....

/melts
posted by offalark at 10:13 PM on January 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm shitting myself a little at the news that in Kashmir, public service announcements are being broadcast about what to do when the nukes start falling. It sounds like the India/Pakistan saber-rattling is getting serious.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:24 PM on January 22, 2013


Link?
posted by KokuRyu at 10:38 PM on January 22, 2013


It's dick-wagging fallout from the soldier beheadings last week. NP.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:47 PM on January 22, 2013


There's a cute black cat in part two at 4:39.


Also dude in an awesome jumper.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 10:50 PM on January 22, 2013


It's dick-wagging fallout from the soldier beheadings last week. NP.

Asia Times mentions that two armies were mobilized and ready to go at it, which I guess could end in a "limited nuclear war".
posted by KokuRyu at 10:58 PM on January 22, 2013


In the context of this post, that National Post link is unsettling.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:11 PM on January 22, 2013


I watch Threads about once a month.
posted by colie at 12:03 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


It was a simpler time, when we all expected to die in a nuclear holocaust, and therefore felt free to major in semiotics without worrying about "what we were going to do with that".
posted by thelonius at 3:58 AM on January 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


One flash, then it's curtains. Isn't that nice? This is a case of good luck being, Cthulhu eating you first.

As I said in another post: Who wants to wait for the credits to roll?
posted by Goofyy at 5:46 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I was 10 or 11 I woke up from a nightmare which ended with my classmates and I huddled under our desks waiting for the flash as emergency alarms went off...and at that moment there was a fire truck or ambulance going past my house with the siren going. Even after I realized I was safe I was so worked up I almost vomited.

I mentioned this in earlier discussions: I would regularly have these kinds of nightmares in my teens and 20's, every couple months or so; they'd be so terrifying that I would be literally too scared to fall back to sleep. ...And while that was going on I made the mistake of seeing Terminator 2 in the theater; Linda Hamilton's "dream of LA being bombed" gave me the one and only panic attack I've ever had (imagine your worst nightmare suddenly taken out of your head and projected on a 75-foot screen with technicolor and a THX sound system). I had to go cower in the lobby for about a half hour.

....I was thinking about this all this morning; and found myself thinking about my father. He used to work for Electric Boat down in Groton, designing subs for the military; he and I had a conversation about the Cold War once, in which I remarked that your average Joe Public didn't get the full destructive capability of nuclear weapons until the late 60's, and in the early 60's people still thought it was survivable. "Oh, I knew," Dad said; in fact, there are still some things he knows about nukes that he technically isn't supposed to tell anyone. (I didn't ask; my paranoia is already bad enough that I don't wanna know.)

Doing the math, he probably started at EB in 1963 - riiiiiiight in time for the Cuban Missle Crisis. He has implied that yeah, he knew some stuff already that made the crisis scarier for him than his friends. This morning I wonder if maybe his knowing some of those things is what lead him and my mother to stay solidly Democrat-social-liberals while all the rest of my aunts and uncles have drifted more and more conservative.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:47 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Having been a SONAR tech on a fast attack submarine the most horrifying training scenario we went through was trailing a missile sub and trying to determine if it was preparing for launch. People yelling at you that if you f* up then the millions of people are going to die. Twenty years on it still haunts me. We just watched "Sum of All Fears" the other night and I got really angry. I thought it was that someone would actually use a nuke, but I realized it was more the insanity of actually having them in the first place. The anger/fear/anxiety are all part of the realization how insane human being are.
posted by empty vessel at 5:53 AM on January 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Though it lacks the sound effects and explosions of the Terminator 2 one, the (final) playground scene from Kurosawa's 'Rhapsody in August' is the one that still gets to me more.
posted by titus-g at 6:20 AM on January 23, 2013


item: "It's Tuesday.Time for our weekly Threads/Day After thread."

We DO seem to have this discussion maybe once a month.

No one's mentioned "When the Wind Blows" yet.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:11 AM on January 23, 2013


Okay, I'm gonna leave this clip of Australian Shepherd puppies trying to herd ducklings here in case anyone else needs a palate cleanser as well. (And since we've brought up "When the Wind Blows" that seems likely.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:06 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I watched A Guide to Armageddon and When the Wind Blows last night. They were both good, but I do not recommend them as a double feature when you don't have any strong drink in the house.
posted by missmerrymack at 4:24 PM on January 23, 2013


I must have been about 11 when "The Day After" came on TV. My parents -- incomprehensibly -- let me watch it. So after reading this discussion and seeing the YouTube link I decided to watch it almost 30 years later. What the hell was I thinking? Why did you people do this to me? i WILL NOT watch "When the Wind Blows" or rewatch "Threads". Really. The Internet sucks.
posted by wintermind at 6:48 PM on January 23, 2013


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