Philosopher George Santayana said very famously that, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Now, I am not sure if the present US administration and other world leaders are having fuzzy memories, but we sure seem to be repeating something with North Korea and this whole nuclear arms deal. The fact that there is talk from both the US and North Korea about actually dropping nuclear bombs on one another leads me to believe that World War 3 might actually be a possibility. So we better get prepared. And what better way to prepare for Doomsday than with some of the best movies ever made about the subject?
With IMDB serving as a comprehensive guide, we now turn and look at what some of those movies are and what they mean. Yes, these bastions of celluloid escapism that show us (usually) in 2 hours less, that people can, despite all ideas to the contrary, make the best choices during the the worst of situations. Sadly, it often takes those situations for us to make such choices. And since so many of us are visual learners, as this situation seems to be getting more volatile by the hour, we thought what better medium to turn to as we prepare ourselves for armageddon?
Now, rather than just give you a list, we thought that in these frantic times we would break it down for you. There certainly is a chance that this list you are currently looking over might be the last list you will ever read. However, should nuclear war not come to pass (and we really hope it doesn't), we have you covered in every conceivable scenario.
We have a "Pre-Blast" list. This list is good if things settle down. If President Trump and Kim Jong-un squash it, we can look at these films as both cautionary tales and a way to conduct ourselves in the future. Should things escalate, we have a "Post Blast" list that will at least give you an idea of what to expect in your "new normal" of nuclear life. There is always the possibility that such a catastrophic and avoidable event could bring us together... which makes one wonder why we don't just come together without the threat of ending civilization? Last, there is our "If We Only Listened" section in which we get some perspective on why all our lives kinda suck right now.
So here's some advice...Read this list and then print it out. Should this whole thing actually come off you might find electricity in short supply. You might actually have to spend your time talking to people and reading books. You might return to a world where facts aren't countered by nonsense from sites like Twitter and Facebook (which will no longer exist, by the way). You're also going to need water and supplies but that's for a whole other list I hope I don't have to write as we dive into 12 movies that will help you prepare for an upcoming nuclear war with North Korea.
Dr. Strangelove (1964)
This biting satire from cinema luminary Stanley Kubrick would be a lot more fun to watch if we weren't kinda living this right now. A crazy general (Sterling Hayden) feels that the US is being poisoned by Russia. So he puts a nuclear deployment in motion that must be stopped. Trying to stop the catastrophe are generals and politicians who are just as inept (it seems) as the people who were recently elected to leadership positions in this country. (I certainly don't think our military is inept, I am using sardonic wit because, well, I don't want us all to die). I don't mean to be pessimistic, but Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb sort of plays like a documentary when viewed through today's Reality TV lens.
Thirteen Days (2001)
Watch this film a few times because we are literally right here right now. Okay, by the time you read this some of us might either not be here (and by that I mean they were obliterated), or the rumblings of back channel diplomacy that we are hearing about between the US and North Korea (which is actually what Thirteen Days is centered on) have actually proved fruitful. Thirteen Days brings viewers to the brink as they see John F. Kennedy deal with the Cuban missile crisis. We are given an in-depth look at the kind of cajoling, hand wringing and double dealing that goes into our political system and, somehow, manages to keep us all alive at the same time. Considering that we haven't really been this close to an incursion with North Korea since 1950, Thirteen Days should be mandatory viewing in every home in America.
The Sum of All Fears (2002)
Before you watch this film we must warn you that a bomb goes off in it. This isn't really a spoiler as The Sum of All Fears came out in 2002. However, I recall when I first watched this film being surprised that a bomb actually was detonated in a movie (especially, so close to the events of 9/11). Now, the enemy in this film is different but what isn't different is the movie formula used in this Jack Ryan vehicle. Basically, some Neo-Nazis are trying to pit the United States against the Russians. They detonate a bomb in the US making them think that the Russians are to blame. However, Jack Ryan (Ben Affleck) knows the truth and he helps both countries see who the real bad guys are. It is my hope that should things really get this bad with North Korea, there's a Jack Ryan somewhere who can make everything right.
Crimson Tide (1995)
Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman go head to head in this tense thriller. This film is sorta removed from the idea of Nuclear War on US soil as it takes place on a nuclear sub. However, if our heroes are unable to work out their differences it will be catastrophic for ALL. Crimson Tide tells the story of two very different men. Denzel Washington plays Hunter and Gene Hackman plays Ramsey. Ramsey is a hard scrabble sort of man who has seen it all. Hunter is younger, more refined, and doesn't have the experience in combat that Ramsey does. As you can guess this causes problems when the two men feel that they have gotten different directives from the powers on high. What ensues is a mutiny by Hunter and then a counter-mutiny from those that are loyal to Ramsey. The fact that nuclear weapons are involved only heightens the tensions, so maybe that is the takeaway here? With great power, comes great responsibility, and those in power need to be equipped to handle it.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
This might be the movie to make you feel the best about the impending blast. Picking up where the original Terminator left off, we have another cyborg (who looks just like Arnold Schwarzenegger), come from the future to protect the young son of Sarah Connor. Of course, there's a lot more to the plot than this, especially Robert Patrick as the half human/half special effect T-1000, but the point of this list isn't to break down the movie. What it is meant to do is to remind you that even if the worst case scenario does happen (and again, I am not taking this lightly, I am just trying to make the best out of a potentially awful situation), there is still hope that maybe this event will finally rid the world of nuclear weapons. Wishful thinking, I know, but if Terminator 2: Judgement Day is anything, hopeful would be the word!
Like Terminator 2: Judgement Day, War Games is a film that really falls on the hopeful side. In this film Matthew Broderick plays a erstwhile gamer who hacks a computer to play a game simulating World War 3. The problem is that the game is being played against a military computer that doesn't know this is a game. As you can guess, things go from alarming, to tense, to downright scary in this film that, in today's world, really plays as a cautionary tale. However, much can be learned from War Games. In fact, if we could get President Trump and Kim Jung-un in a room together, and show them this film, chances are they would see that all their blustering needs to stop. Okay, that might be a little too hopeful, but my country elected a Reality TV host to lead it. We've gotta get through to him any way we can!
The Day After (1983)
When this movie came out in 1983 it was downright scary. Call it a product of Cold War propaganda but I had never experienced TV like The Day After before. People marvel at what shows like Breaking Bad have been able to do with the television medium. The Day After took things a whole lot further. In a nutshell, this film looked at the effects of a nuclear blast in Kansas. However, it didn't just show us the explosion. It showed us what things might be like "post-blast" and that was what made this film so chilling. Is putting our society back in the stone age really worth the political pissing contest between the US and North Korea? Haven't we advanced beyond a time period where a movie like The Day After is even a possibility? Watch this film and you're answer should be a resounding "YES".
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
I am just gonna put this out there, if a "post-blast" world is ANYTHING like Mad Max: Fury Road, then I am a complete dead man. I have a hard time maintaining my patience when I am on the freeway. There's no way I could live under tyranny, barely have any food or water, and then also have to deal with a band of marauders trying to kill me at every turn. Sure, I could crawl under the skirt of a woman like Imperator Furiosa (played incredibly by Charlize Theron) or the arm of Mad Max (Tom Hardy), but ultimately I am going to have fend for myself. Which makes me wonder, why, given what our future could be, we all don't come to understand that we are all in this world together? And the only way we are going to survive is to work together. Another film that should be mandatory viewing in every home in the US.
Miracle Mile (1988)
Miracle Mile is not a well known movie, but it sure knows how to ratchet up the tension, and it's a thrill ride through and through that doesn't let off it's hero easily. Musician Harry Washello (Anthony Edwards) sits down at a Los Angeles diner, where he instantly takes an interest in waitress Julie Peters (Mare Winningham). The feeling is mutual, too, so the pair arranges a date for later that day. But things go awry when Harry picks up a random pay phone call from a frantic soldier who warns of a nuclear attack that will hit L.A. within the hour. Scrambling, Harry finds Julie and the two do everything they can to escape to safety. But alas, they are unable to find the shelter they are looking for. And this has one of the darkest endings in any 80s movies. While some have forgotten it, the thriller deserves to be remembered as a classic.
The Interview (2014)
Alright, it could be said that Sony didn't need to make this film. Our countries relationship with Kim Jong-un was already in the toilet. However, certain things need to be dangerous. Comedy and movies are two of those things. So a film about two TV opportunists (played by Seth Rogen and James Franco), who go to North Korea to interview Kim Jong-un, and get caught up in an assassination attempt, is probably not going to be well received there. This film was a scandal. It practically created an international incident as there was a cyber attack on Sony for making it. There was a thought that this film might not come out. Eventually, it was released on Netflix. Now, the truth is that The Interview isn't as good as all the media coverage surrounding it. However, it did show us that Kim Jong-un did not have a sense of humor, so maybe, next time, we don't poke the bear so overtly? Or, then again... maybe we poke it more?
Countdown to Zero (2010)
This eye-opening documentary from Lucy Walker is a true cautionary tale. It sadly seems that the proliferation of nuclear weapons has been inevitable for a long time now. Why? Well with the all the terrorism we have going on in the world, a nuclear weapon sorta seems like it might solve a lot problems, right? Heck, we know that ISIS is in the middle east, you know they are spreading and do abominable things. Why not drop a bomb that blows them into kingdom come? Well, because that's like using an elephant to step on a mouse. Look, I am a movie guy. I don't have all the answers. What I do know is that the nuclear option isn't an option at all. We need to figure out a way to all live in this world without potentially annihilating each other.
The Bomb (2015)
This documentary shows just how infused our lives are with nuclear energy. The reality is that nuclear energy has never been a good idea. As an option in combat it has been even worse. Hey, one could argue that combat with other nations is probably never the way to go. Sadly, we are way passed that kind of logic. We have been since biblical times. Ultimately, this documentary shows that nuclear weapons have always been the third rail of military defense. Aside from President Trump and Kim Jong-un, it doesn't seem like even our hawkish generals want to explore this option. So the biggest question is why didn't we heed the warning? Why did we allow things to get so far out of control? Why in 2017 is a nuclear war even a possibility? Lastly, if this is my last piece of content for this site, I would like to thank you all for reading my stuff over the years. It has been a pleasure writing for you.