In the mid-1980s, the U.S. is poised on the brink of nuclear war. This shadow looms over the residents of a small town in Kansas as they continue their daily lives. Dr. Russell Oakes maintains his busy schedule at the hospital, Denise Dahlberg prepares for her upcoming wedding, and Stephen Klein is deep in his graduate studies. When the unthinkable happens and the bombs come down, the town's residents are thrust into the horrors of nuclear winter.
This was solid and, considering its epoch, scary. I remember being a teen when this came up, and with U.S./Soviet relations at a nadir, nuclear war films were just starting to appear on the cinephile's radar once again, after taking a breather from their 60's heyday for the sake of the glut of natural disaster films that hit theatres in the interim. This was one of the first and best, simply because director Nicholas Meyer was so good at sci-fi. I fervently wish he had made a lot more movies.
Well worth the view and it's surprisingly hard-hitting, for an American movie. TDA depict the full nuclear exchange between NATO and the Warsaw-pact and how this affect the population in and around Kansas. I think TDA really works better as a pure movie, because it is. Compared to the UK-made "Threads", which is more of a docudrama, TDA sets the scene and develop the characters. Many of the characters also survive the initial attack and we follow them 2-4 weeks after the initial attack. Even though TDA was both politically incorrect at the time and is also pretty bleak and scary, it does fall into the trap of being more of a movie than a film meant to shock and present facts. Some of the cheesy dialogue and characters also feels a little 'meh' (love stories, family-drama etc). Threads also has some of that, but avoid the most cheesy moments, because it's more 'real' than 'played out by actors'. Anyway, TDA works well, it will keep you seated and you will indeed feel moved by the buildup and attack-scene, as well as the aftermath. Acting is for the most part very good and the film flows nicely trough the story. The thing I don't like too much with TDA, is that it does pull it's punches concerning the consequences of such a nuclear exchange and it does leave the viewer with a slightly positive outlook, that things will improve in time and that mankind will prevail. Dr. Oakes, one of the main-characters in the film is probably the voice of the most realistic views on what is to come, but his views aren't lifted up as being the view of the movie itself. Still a highly recommended film, it does cover a subject only covered properly by this and the UK made 'Threads'.