This is a review of the movie The Day After.
Growing up in the 1980s you were very aware of the Soviet Union’s desire to wipe you out. At any moment ICBMs could rain down and end your existence. The thought of a nuclear attack always seemed unreal, but very possible. In later years it became clear that the world came closer than anyone knew to a total nuclear war.
In 1983 ABC produced and broadcast a movie dealing with the devastating effects of a nuclear explosion in the midwest. Titled The Day After, the movie takes place in Kansas City and Lawrence, KS.
The cast of actors includes:
- John Lithgow
- Jason Robards
- Amy Madigan
- JoBeth Williams
- Steve Guttenberg
Don’t laugh. It was the 1980s and Guttenberg was popular.
The movie primarily follows Robards working as a doctor at a Kansas City hospital and Guttenberg a University of Kansas student. The lead up to the attack is shown primarily through TV reports and radio updates. Suffice to say the Soviet Union and the United States started a war in Europe with the United States being the first to use nuclear weapons.
These reports are punctuated by people living normal lives. Folks getting ready for a wedding, students signing up for classes and the like. It is here where the movie really starts to grab your emotional throat. You know what is coming.
The bomb drops. Actually, the bombs drop. You see old school special effects that actually work well in terms of conveying the awe and fear. People panic, you see death, but life moves on.
The movie is stark, depressing and engaging. As generations pass the threat of total nuclear war fades into the background, but this movie should serve as an example that it isn’t clean or recoverable.It’s during this part of the movie that you begin to feel for the people as they try to get back to normal. Some begin to deal with their new predicament like Guttenberg. He knows they need to move on and find refuge. Others attempt to resume normal life. The group of farmers who reference a 1950s manual on how to plant crops after a nuclear exchange.