Has it ever been this depressing to pay attention to world events than it is right now? Well, what about when we believed we’d soon be in a full-scale nuclear war? The utter devastation of the Cold War erupting into a hot one was the basic premise of The Day After, a 1983 made-for-TV movie helmed by Wrath of Kahn director, Nicholas Meyer. And it’s going to be out on Blu-ray later this year.
Now, if you don’t remember this movie, then you are probably too young to remember the Cold War at all. So you’re thinking, “Why should I care about some TV movie from the 1980s?” One reason: Reagan felt it proved why we should keep searching for a deterrent and do everything possible to prevent such an attack.
The film—starring Steve Guttenburg and John Lithgow—follows the events in a small town following the launch of nuclear weapons by NATO and the Warsaw Pact. We’ve kind of grown desensitized to movies showing the end of civilization, but back then The Day After felt like a possible future. The film tapped so deeply into the public’s psyche that to this day its initial broadcast is one of the top rated-non sports events of all time. The movie even found its way into classrooms across America, making this a haunting nostalgic watch for people who were in grade school in the ’80s.
So, while America and Russia have a pretty weird relationship right now, with The Day After you can turn back the clock and remember a simpler time: when both sides were engaged in nuclear weapon-style dick measuring contest.