The television film “Threads” was produced by the BBC, Nine Network, and Western-World Television Inc. in 1984. The film, directed and produced by Mick Jackson, tells the story of nuclear war and its aftermath in Britain, with a focus on the northern English city of Sheffield. When the Cold War breaks out, the focus shifts to two families caught in the middle. The video explores the medical, economic, social, and environmental effects of nuclear war as NATO and the Warsaw Pact engage in a nuclear exchange.
For the first time in cinematic history, the film depicted a nuclear winter. Some have termed it “a picture which comes closest to conveying the whole horror of nuclear war, its aftermath, and the disastrous effect on human society” because of this. Many have noted parallels between it and the Academy Award-winning British television series The War Game, which aired two decades earlier, and the American television drama The Day After, which aired on ABC in 1983 and presented a similar scenario. It won Best Single Drama at the BAFTAs, with seven nominations, Design; Cameraman; Editing; and Cinematography in 1985.
Ruth Beckett and Jimmy Kemp marry in Sheffield due to Ruth’s unexpected pregnancy. The film’s plot is set against the backdrop of a brewing Iranian war. Russian troops invaded northern Iran, fearing a pro-Shah coup d’état, while American troops captured southern Iran and extended their presence in the Persian Gulf. The US deploys B-52 Stratofortress bombers to Turkey after discovering the Soviets gave Mashad nuclear weapons.
Warsaw Pact expansion in East Germany prompts the British increase of NATO troops in Western Europe. In an attempt to peacefully resolve the Iranian crisis, President Obama proposes a joint pullout with the Soviet Union. Americans responded by bombing the Soviet plant at Mashad, which had defied the American ultimatum. Over Mashad, an American battlefield nuclear bomb responds to a Soviet nuclear-tipped air defense missile.
As the US and Soviet forces clash, panic buying and looting erupt throughout Britain. The Emergency Powers Act, approved by the federal government, allows local governments to suspend regular activities and take property for civil defense purposes. The government has taken control of British Airways and cross-Channel ferries to help transfer troops to Europe.
An Attack Warning The narrator says red warnings go out at 8:30 a.m. British time, which is 3:30 a.m. Washington time. A nuclear weapon’s electromagnetic pulse across the North Sea disrupts communication networks in the UK and northwest Europe. In a follow-up assault, the RAF Finningley and other NATO military locations are struck.
The mushroom cloud and explosion send shockwaves across Sheffield. A 1 megaton nuclear missile that smashed on the Tinsley Viaduct killed hundreds. During a NATO-Warsaw Pact exchange, at least 210 nuclear bombs are dropped on Britain alone; two-thirds of the country is devastated by firestorms, killing many survivors.
Within an hour after the attack, a ground explosion in Crewe contaminated the destruction in Sheffield. Disruption has hampered local officials’ capacity to communicate. Putting out roaring flames is too risky. The sun is hidden by smoke from the fires. Later, soldiers storm into the ruins of Sheffield Town Hall, held by local authorities who had suffocated to death by the time the army arrived. The ozone layer’s depletion increases the risk of cataracts and cancer. Fertilizer and equipment shortages cause agricultural failure. The government has the power to execute, but the British people who are still living disdain its attempts to maintain peace.
In a world where money has no value, food is the only reward and punishment. That’s because there’s more food for everyone if more people die. Ruth and her friends flee to the Buxton countryside and have a daughter. In the past decade, Britain’s population has fallen from 4 to 11 million, and a new era of darkness has begun. Children born after the war speak poor English, and survivors farm. Ruth’s 10-year-old daughter Jane is the only survivor. Even when the industrial revolution resumes, the citizenry remains poor. Three years after Ruth’s death, Jane and her two boys were found stealing.
This causes a food battle between Jane and the other boy, which leads to sexual encounters. Unresponsive baby Jane is born in an abandoned hospital, and the film ends with a quiet freeze-frame of Jane screaming in horror.
Where Does it All End?
Jane, Ruth’s ten-year-old daughter, is the only one of her mother’s children to escape the tragedy. Even while the industry is resurgent because of limited electricity and steam-powered technology, the mass people continue to live in terrible poverty. Three years after Ruth’s death, Jane and two of her boys were apprehended while stealing groceries from a convenience store.
Ruth is the one who finds Kemp’s body a few weeks after the tragedy occurred. Mr. Kemp passes away at a cemetery some months after being exposed to radiation. Given that Jane has given birth to a stillborn child who is genetically altered, it is likely that radiation-induced birth abnormalities would wipe out subsequent generations and cause the end of society as we know it, as shown in the film.