THE DAY BEFORE. THE DAY OF. THE DAY AFTER.
One of the most talked-about TV movies of its day attracted a huge audience and inspired a national debate on the pros and cons of nuclear deterrence. The story takes place right before, during and after a crisis where the U.S. and the Soviet Union launch nuclear missiles against one another. We follow the people who live close to nuclear missile silos in Kansas and Missouri; it is very unsettling to see how quickly normal life ends only to be followed by a miserable struggle with the consequences of radiation for the few survivors. State-of-the-art visual effects for its time, and good performances, although the personal stories are not the film’s strongest ingredient.
1983-U.S. Made for TV. 127 min. Color. Produced by Robert Papazian. Directed by Nicholas Meyer. Screenplay: Edward Hume. Cast: Jason Robards (Russell Oakes), JoBeth Williams (Nancy Bauer), Steve Guttenberg (Stephen Klein), John Cullum, John Lithgow, Bibi Besch… Amy Madigan.
Last word: “‘The Day After’ was probably the most worthwhile thing that I ever got to do with my life, so far. My hopes and the results – it’s interesting, I didn’t achieve my, what was my hope, but actually the result may have been far better. I fantasized that ‘The Day After’ was going to contribute to the defeat of Ronald Reagan in the next presidential elections. This it utterly failed to do, but it did something more peculiar. And that is it changed Ronald Reagan’s mind about a winnable nuclear war. And if you read his memoirs or his autobiography, he basically says this about the movie. Which at first glance is either interesting or pathetic depending on your point of view, but, in a way, what I’ve discovered about ‘The Day After’ is that there are people whose imaginations, and Ronald Reagan was not alone, are so deficient in this area that it takes seeing a movie of a nuclear war to explain it to them.” (Meyer, Groucho Reviews)