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The Day After (1983)

Cast: Jason Robards, Jr., Jason Robards, Jr., JoBeth Williams, more...
Director: Nicholas Meyer, Nicholas Meyer
    see all cast/crew...
Rating: Not Rated
Studio: MGM
Genre: Drama, Science Fiction , Disaster Action, Post-Apocalypse
Running Time: 127 min.
Languages: English
    see additional details...

Recently Rented By goodyerin

A peaceful Midwestern city attempts to recover after it is destroyed by a nuclear missile strike in this powerful and deeply disturbing testament to the folly of pro-military hawks who believed that annihilation was a justifiable means of attaining power and control. The Day After originally aired on network television. At the end of the broadcast, many stations offered teams of counselors staffing 800 telephone numbers to help distraught viewers calm down. ~ Sandra Brennan, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Classic anti-war TV movie on DVD at last by EPetersen June 4, 2004 - 10:06 AM PDT
13 out of 14 members found this review helpful
When The Day After premiered on network TV in 1983, I was 13 years old. I still remember the big 2-page ad for the movie in TV Guide - a picture of a Kansas farm woman looking up at the nuclear missles streaking across the sky above her. It looked like a must-see movie, so I watched it. I thought it was one of the best anti-war movies ever, and I stil do.

1983 also saw the theatrical release of the classic cyberthriller WarGames, where a government supercomputer performs realistic simulations of nuclear war in order to determine how America could win such a war, should it take place. The computer concludes that the only way for us to win a nuclear war is to not participate in one.

The Day After illustrates that point in its chillingly accurate depiction of a nuclear war as seen in America's heartland. It begins with a seemingly mild conflict between the U.S. and the Soviet Union that quickly escalates. Before the people of a Kansas town can even comprehend what the conflict is about, the U.S. government declares war on the Soviets and both countries send their nuclear missles flying.

In a series of impressive special effects, we see the massive devastation caused by the missle strikes. But the immediate effects are just the beginning. Jason Robards is excellent as the doctor who turns his hospital into a rescue center. With his medical supplies dwindling and the government in state of chaos, all Robards can do is watch people die, as radiation sickness consumes a sizeable part of the population.

John Lithgow, JoBeth Williams, and even Steve Guttenberg also give fine performances.

It look a lot of guts for ABC to greenlight this movie. In 1983, Ronald Reagan was in the White House, and as soon as he took office, his ultra-right wing administration began whipping up anti-communist paranoia, taking it to a point not seen since the McCarthy era in the 1950s. He even had public schools bring back the old "duck and cover" drills for a while.

Needless to say, many movies at the time echoed Reagan's propaganda, with the good 'ol USA coming out on top of the evil commie Russkies. The Day After is no propaganda film. America doesn't win the nuclear war. There's no happy ending, no patriotic flag-waving crap, just human suffering and plenty of it.

The Reagan administration was determined to make us believe that we could win a nuclear war against the Soviets. They must have been furious when this movie was broadcast and received incredible ratings.

While the Soviet Union no longer exists and Russia is now our ally, this movie is still relevant as an anti-war statement in these uncertain times - and what a powerful statement it is!

One final note: this DVD version is the "director's cut" of The Day After, which runs over 20 minutes longer than the original TV broadcast version. This version was released theatrically in Europe. In the 1970s and 1980's, when most TV movies were well made, it was customary to add extra scenes to them and release them theatrically in other countries. 99% of today's TV movies are so bad that they're not worth distributing outside the U.S., added scenes or not. :o)

- Eric Petersen

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.23)
65 Votes
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