Monday 14 January 2008


In 1984, when I was aged 12 going on 13, the English teacher at my school forced my whole class to watch this:
Threads was a movie produced specially for TV broadcast by the BBC. It is a “docudrama” written by Barry Hines about the effects of a nuclear attack on Britain. It centres around two families living in the city of Sheffield. It follows them from the world of normality, to the attack and carnage of nuclear bombardment to the aftermath and the attempts to rebuild the country out of the chaos of destruction. It was made before Gorbachev and the fall of the Soviet block. The “Shadow of the Bomb” may have eased since, but this doesn’t diminish the film’s horror. It gave me many nightmares and I came home from school and lay in bed crying over it. I remember being full of dread of nuclear war for much of my childhood; for the 50 years of the Cold War, older generations had to endure it their whole lives. My parents used to be involved in anti-nuclear protests and I remember attending rallies with them in Oxford and London for CND.

The film uses artistic devices to create its disturbing feel that I very often see used to this day, especially by the BBC: The mixture of the everyday and apocalyptic. The shots focus on shop signs, close-ups of billboards, cans and shopping bags with brand names on them; together with burning buildings, mushroom clouds and bodies. It’s a very emotionally-violent film. No doubt my English teacher though it was for our own good. We needed to see the full effects of nuclear war so that we would then act to stop it. But this is not the theme of Threads! The characters are all portrayed as ineffectual and helpless, innocent victims pushed and pulled by events beyond their control. It is the unseen politicians that decide whether the attack happens or not. It’s also they who introduce the draconian laws of the aftermath, the distribution of food and water, justice and jobs in the new Third World Britain. As one of the characters says in the second pub scene: “So what! There’s nowt we can do about it. When the bomb does drop I just want to right underneath it and pissed out of me brains!” The film is, from start to finish, nothing but melancholy and despair. Why is there no mention of the role of other countries? Surely not all of them were devastated as much as Britain? Don’t they send us any foreign aid? Don’t we get any food, grain and warm clothing from abroad? But no; we’re portrayed as a nation not only as devastated, but isolated.

The engendering of fear and powerlessness in the population has been deliberately used by politicians because when the masses feel afraid and powerless we plead to them to protect us from those nightmares. Since the end of the Cold War we can see that ploy more easily because since the fear of global nuclear war has gone other nightmares have risen to replace it: A broad selection of them can be found in my article More Horizon Scaremongering below. The danger of meteor impact from space was hardly discussed when we were occupied with the Shadow of the Bomb, even though it is potentially even more devastating than a nuclear holocaust; unlike nuclear weapons it's also beyond human control. Meteor impacts in the past have wiped out most of life on Earth. But the fear of the bomb meant that such a scenario wasn’t needed!

Today schoolchildren are being shown the film An Inconvenient Truth about global warming. But most of it is wrong, as I explain in my article A Convenient Lie. I won’t allow my daughter to be shown it unless she gets to hear the other side of the story, the debunker The Great Global Warming Swindle. If you choose to watch Threads, then be warned; it is not light entertainment by anyone’s definition! It must be one of the most upsetting and disturbing movies ever made, but bear in mind that it is purely a product of an atmosphere of dread created deliberately by those who want to control us.

Just take a look at this! It’s an archive of “Protect and Survive” literature from the 1950’s to the end of the Cold War. In Threads we hear one of its public information films playing on the TV in the background. I was shown one at school: I think at some point in my childhood, our house actually was sent one of these leaflets. In the early days of the Cold War in America it was even worse. There were the “duck-and-cover” drills:
This US government information film from the 1940’s was made soon after the Russians detonated their first A-bomb. The people who write things like Threads grew up with this stuff! That figures!

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