This week, I’ve been thinking about Threads a lot. It’s a film that I watched on YouTube, having seen some clips of it on a BBC documentary. I’m pretty easily scared, and this is the scariest film I’ve ever seen. It shows you, in slow and excruciating detail, just how scary real life can and will get in the aftermath of a thermonuclear conflict. There will be no rescuers saving the day. There will be no winner. There will be no afterwards.
I have no idea if the story about Ronald Reagan is true, namely that having seen Threads he reassessed nuclear policy. What’s really scary right now is knowing that the current president probably wouldn’t be swayed at all by watching it. We know he’s incurious and has shown no greater inclination towards curiosity, so I’m probably correct in my thinking that watching Threads won’t counteract his fire and fury approach to nuclear policy.
Threads is scary because it presents nuclear war as people will experience it. There is nothing scarier than knowing what you’re watching could be real. The people who suffer in Threads are mothers, fathers, children, delivery people, civil servants – all ‘normal’ people, doing ‘normal’ things. They are us. They are the North Koreans.