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Pulling at ‘Threads’: The Bleak Anti-War Film You Need to Watch

Anyone check on the Doomsday clock lately?
Threads
By  · Published on September 16th, 2022

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that looks at the anti-nuclear war message of 1984’s Threads.


In 1984, British televisions glowed with the premiere broadcast of the most terrifying TV movie ever made. Written, directed, and produced by Mick Jackson (the same man behind The Bodyguard and Volcano), Threads dramatizes what it would mean if nuclear war came to Britain. Set in Sheffield, Threads follows a young, relatable couple who are looking forward to the birth of their unplanned child. In the background, the radio hums with warnings that tensions between the United States and the Soviets have been escalating in Iran, with nuclear weapons being brandished by both sides. Then a warhead detonates in the North Sea. Communications are wiped out. The rats feasting on the dead spread disease. And nuclear winter plunges the city into chaos.

The purpose of Threads is clear and unambiguous: this cannot happen. There are no winners in a nuclear war. Meticulously researched (harrowingly so), the film was created from a place of nuclear anxiety. And unfortunately, while the specifics of that anxiety have shifted, the film still remains relevant today.

It’s uncanny how anti-war films often feel scarier than anything the horror genre has to offer. Threads is ample proof of that.

The following contains narrative and visual spoilers for 1984’s Threads.

Watch “Threads (1984) – The Criticism Of Nuclear War”:


Who made this?

This video essay on the themes of Threads is by You Have Been Watching Films. United Kingdom-based writer Oliver Bagshaw produces the channel, creating video essays on an assortment of movies, from cult to classic strains of cinema history. You can subscribe to their YouTube channel here.

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).