The countdown has begun! Against the real-life backdrop of the U.S. deployment of WMDs in Europe during the escalating Cold War, this "dramatically involving [and] agonizingly graphic film" (The Hollywood Reporter) about n... more »uclear holocaust detonated a direct hit into the heartland of America.Starring Jason Robards, JoBeth Williams, Steven Guttenberg, John Cullum and John Lithgow, this "controversial, potent drama" (Leonard Maltin) remains "one of the most talked-about programs in history"(Newsweek)! When Cold War tensions reach the ultimate boiling point, the inhabitants of a small town in Kansas learn along with the rest of America that they have fewer than 30 minutes before 300 Soviet warheads begin to appear overhead! Can anyone survive this ultimate nightmare...or the nuclear winter that is sure to follow?« less
Chad B. (abrnt1) from CABERY, IL Reviewed on 12/3/2011...
I remember seeing this when it first aired and I had nightmares for quite awhile. Very effective film tah serves as a warning about the dangers of nuclear war. What amazes me is that some idiots believe that there can be such a thing as a winner in a nuclear confrontation. If nuclear weapons were to ever be used everyone loses.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Donna D. from WASILLA, AK Reviewed on 11/24/2010...
Great movie fast paced and keeps you on the edge of your seat
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Joseph S. (hamsterdad) Reviewed on 12/11/2009...
When Isaw this movie on swapadvd, I got goosebumps and shivered. I remember when I was a kid practicing bomb safety drills in school classrooms. Hiding under our desks to protect us from the cold war threat of nuclear war. Then this movie came out and removed all hope of a 2 foot by two and a half foot piece of pressboard and formica saving my life. The movie was breath taking and absolutely terrifying. For the time it was filmed, the effects were chilling and realistic, and the topic was on everybodies brains almost daily. The movie depicted a bleak and almost hopeless fututre of the earth as a wasteland due to the stupidity of man. The movie had such a immediate social impact the network that aired it actually had counselors waiting on the phone for people to call and process what they had just witnessed. If you are like me, a cold war kid who can still pull up the old fear the settle into my bones every time the teacher would say "That's the in coming threat siren, please assume your safety positions" then this movie will take you to an interestingly historical place. I feel the the movie is still very relevant in today's climate of if I can't see it, it can't harm me. When you watch the movie, watch it for the message, not the effects, or car chases.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
James V. from BISMARCK, ND Reviewed on 10/14/2009...
This was fairly well done for its day. I'd love to see a remake with newer science, better special effects, and less time spent on character development before the bombs drop. How would we survive without computers? If anything, it would have been easier to survive in a post-apocalyptic world back in the 80s than it would be today. Thought provoking movie and the hairdos were great!
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Duane S. (superpoet) from FORT WORTH, TX Reviewed on 1/19/2008...
Awesome special effects of the day after many nuclear bombs hit the state of Kansas. The statement at the end of the movie even says that the movie doesn't even show the most horrific results of what would actually happen. The special effects on the human bodies were gruesome , but totally realistic. Great guy film!
5 of 5 member(s) found this review helpful.
Watching the ICBMs take off and head for the Soviet Union...
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 10/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The political controversy over "The Day After" when it was first broadcast in 1983 had to do with the idea that a television movie about a nuclear war was an indictment of the policies of the Reagan Administration. Of course "The Day After" was not an attack on a particular president, but rather it represented the liberal nightmare of the worst of all possible futures, with a full out nuclear exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union. Four years later the ultimate conservative nightmare was aired with the mini-series "Amerika," in which the United States has been taken over by the Communists. Both were predicated on questionable assumptions, the former on an escalation of a conflict over Berlin and the later on the effects of an electro-magnetic pulse, but those were both simply excuses to tell the story that wanted to be told.
Ultimately "The Day After" is not so much a story as it is a depiction of what a nuclear war would be like that comes under the heading of "seeing is believing." Prior to the airing of this television film Hollywood showed what it was like to live in the world after a nuclear war in films from "On the Beach" to "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome," suggested that a nuclear war would be so horrible that a president would drop nuclear bombs on New York City rather than go to war in "Fail Safe," and ended the Cold War satire of "Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" with a series of atom bomb's exploding set to the popular song "We'll Meet Again." But what they did not show was what that nuclear war would be like. Even the "Star Wars" universe assumed there would be a nuclear war some day, as did I, but depicting the horrors of such a war was never really done until "The Day After."
However, exploding mushroom clouds and the victims of radiation poison were not what was most memorable about "The Day After." The icon image from the film became the shots of the missiles taking off, with the people of Lawrence, Kansas looking up into the sky at the ICBMs headed towards the Soviet Union knowing that their missiles were heading for us. Suddenly it became clear that the true moment of horror would be when you saw those missiles because chances were you would never see the mushroom cloud that took your life. In fact, given the choice between being incinerated and surviving long enough to watch your loved ones suffer horribly, I think most people would hope for the quick death. This film turned those last few minutes of life from the old joke about how you need to bend over, put your head between your knees and kiss you ass goodbye into an enduring image of outright terror.
The worst moments of this film are the painful period between the missiles taking off and the nukes exploding. One of the silos is right next to the Dahlberg farm, and the emotion nadir of the film is Denise Dahlberg (Lori Lethin) comes down the stairs holding the wedding dress she will never get to wear and her father tells her to get into the storm cellar. Then Jim Dahlberg (John Cullum) has to go upstairs and drag his wife Eve (Bibi Besch) screaming and crying away from the bed she is making in a desperate attempt to pretend that the world is not coming to an end.
Jason Robards is Dr. Russell Oakes, who along with Nurse Nancy Bauer (JoBeth Williams) has to deal with the casualties following the detonations at a besieged hospital, and Stephen Klein (Steve Guttenberg) is the guy who takes refuge with the Dahlbergs. Joe Huxley (John Lithgow) is the college professor who gets to supply most of the relatively small amount of exposition the story requires: a student thinks they are safe because Kansas is in the middle of nowhere, but the professor is the one who points out "There's no 'nowhere' anymore" since there is an Air Force base and 150 Minutemen Missile silos spread halfway down Missouri, all constituting "an awful lot of bullseyes." When the missiles take off he is the one who knows it takes thirty minutes to reach their target, a fact that applies to the incoming missiles as well.
I remember the night of November 11, 1983 as I watched "The Day After" how ABC did not run any commercials after the nukes went off and that right afterwards the network had a special news program in which Dr. Carl Sagan introduced us to the idea of a "nuclear winter" and the fact that the reality of a nuclear exchange would be much worse than we had seen. To say that this was a sobering idea to give an audience that was already depressed by what they had seen, would be an understatement. Sagan, of course, was opposed to the use of nuclear weapons and condemned the arms race. Speaking on the other side, which is to say in favor of the concept of nuclear deterrence, was William F. Buckley, Jr., and what we got to see in that debate (which is still available on video) was that both were right.
It is rather amazing, given the history of humanity, that it has been almost sixty years since nuclear weapons have been used in war. Ironically, we now live in a world where we still believe that those weapons are going to be used, although now we assume it will be the work of terrorists (or an attempt to stop terrorists) and not a war between East and West. I would not be surprised if right now Hollywood is kicking around ideas of what it would be like the day after that sort of nuclear detonation, going beyond what we saw in "The Sum of All Fears." Hopefully it would be as successful at forestalling our worst nightmares as "The Day After" has been these many years."
What makes it even more scary is that it could STILL happen
Kevin Wolf | Lawrenceville, Georgia United States | 02/22/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first saw this movie a few months ago on television, and even with all the commercials, I stay tuned for all 3 hours of it. I have never been more frightened for this world in my entire life, and that is a fact. "The Day After" deals with a nuclear war, and the main characters are everyday folk, like us, in Middle America. The movie was filmed in the early 1980's, when the Cold War was at it's peak, and every film studio came out with cheap action films about post-nuclear war heros and giant radioactive insects. But this telefilm, guided by the talented Nicholas Meyer(Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan), rose to new heights and presented us with a vision of a world that has lost all sense of reason and hope, with 2 powerful nations taking their ignorance out on the billions who are innocent, but still pay for the actions brought on by the ignorant. Jason Robards plays a doctor and Steve Guttenburg(his best performance by far) as a man traveling home are just two of the many everyday people bound together by horrible circumstances. Two of the most powerful scenes that brought tears to my eyes is where a battered priest is reading from his Bible from a bombed out church, with devastation all around him, and the people in attendance are scarred, bloody, and dying. And as the priest trys to raise hopes about God's plan, and about keeping faith, a little girl dies in her sleep, apparently from radiation sickness.And the family, without saying anything, gets up from their pew, and walks away, while the priest, in desperation, increases his voice, having a hard time himself believing in a God that would let this happen.Another heart-wrenching scene is when a group of people are in a building hiding from the radiation, when they pick up a message from the President of the United States, telling Americans that a cease fire had been called, and that the US did not surrender, won't surrender, and he felt sympathy for the losses inflicted, but the great nation of America still lives, and he too had suffered personal losses. And as he said this the camera pans around the room, and instead of patriotic fervor from the survivors, you get the more realistic blank faces, from people who had just seen the world as they knew it destroyed, family, friends dead. This scene shows how futile and pointless war of any kind is. What was the most powerful is that even though we can inflict so much pain on each other, as presented very clearly and graphically in this film, is that there are those who will die to save others in the aftermath, such as in the hospital where the doctors died themselves, worked to death comforting the dying. I think that this film will touch everyone's soul, and hopefully someone in power will take heed of this movie. The threat of nuclear holocaust is still with us, and it would not take much for this film to become reality. Please buy this, rent this, or catch it the next time it is on television. We should not all have to suffer just because a few egomaniacs can't shake hands. This is just one of the many lessons this film teaches, and hopefully it will be a lesson learned, for all of our sakes."
Eddie Landsberg | Tokyo, Japan | 10/15/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When this made-for-TV movie came out, I remember being scared out of my pants for days literally... The fact that this was at the height of the Cold War era, and many people believed that Ronald Reagan was... well crazy enough and so were the Soviets made this broadcast so real. Oddly enough though, the British managed to outdo it with THREADS, which made me about twice as physically ill when it aired on TV.
The Broadcast was scary, and I remember after a panel of experts appearing on a special Nightline and a special call in to discuss issues. - - Could it happen ? Could anyone survive ? Would the living envy the dead ? - - and even more horrifyingly the fact that one of the more controversial elements of the broadcast was the arguement that the broadcast presented an OPTOMISTIC view of what it would be like to survive a nuclear holocaust.
Though just a made for TV movie (in an era when made-for-TV movies were usually corny), I have found this broadcast to be the most disturbing movie I've ever scene because at the time it was such a real possibility. (Even now it is... but then you could really sense that the U.S. was at a "let's see who blinks first" stand off with the Soviet Union.)
In conclusion, THE DAY AFTER actually wasn't the first broadcast of its type... about 40 years earlier there was actually a radio drama centered around the aftermath of a Nuclear War called THE FIFTH HORSEMAN... check it out ! ! !"
Unforgettable - Unlike most TV movies
Peter Vinokurov | 11/13/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I remember the initial pre-broadcast hype for this movie. It aired on a Sunday and everyone at church that day was asking "Are you going to watch The Day After tonight?" Most everyone we knew was planning on watching it. My husband and I watched it and unlike most TV movies, it seared itself into my mind and the vivid images are still there today. Nearly twenty years later, I now live in the KC metro area. We are within an hour drive of Whiteman AFB and Fort Riley AB, 10 minutes from a major armament manufacturer, and one of the world's largest communications corporations has it's headquarters nearby - in other words - we're still a prime target. With all the goofballs in the middle east right now, the scenes from this movie still scare me because I know nuclear war is a very real possibility.The actors all did a wonderful job and were totally believable. I enjoy everything I've ever seen Jason Robards in. He was a national treasure and added class to every film he graced. The special effects were terrific for their day and still hold up. The movie effectively describes the aftermath of nuclear war, horrifyingly updating such cold war classics as "Alas, Babylon". However, I agree that the British movie "Threads" was much more terrible in it's depiction of atomic aftermath.I can't say I enjoyed this movie. How can you enjoy something that so frightens and depresses you? But I highly recommend it. Parts may be too frightening for younger children."
Here's an opinion of the former Soviet Union citizen
Peter Vinokurov | Moscow, Russia | 05/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've seen "The Day After" when I was a child of 10-11 in 1986-1987 in a small village in Siberia called Maya, near Yakutsk, USSR. The movie was shown over the whole Soviet Union twice on the first channel. Since then I remember the movie very clearly, the impression I got was very high, so I immediately started to deeply realize the horror of a nuclear catastrophe. We were on the other side of the Cold War propaganda. I remember at school how we were taught about the US predator imperialistic policy. We always had lessons at school how to behave in case of US nuclear attack and practiced it physically running down to underground rooms wearing gas-masks and helping each other. The US nuclear threat, I believed, was so real, so I was frightened of a sight of a shining plane board in the sky. I was sure it were Americans going to bomb my village. And this hysteria was everywhere in USSR. Now living in Moscow, the heart of an almost free country of Russia I realize that the topicality of the movie hasn't dissappeared. We still face a lot of threats around the world, including terrorism and nuclear war. I'm sure all this comes from people's indifference, jealosy, prejudice, ignorance... Watch the movie and let our children know and grow."