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There seemed to be a particular spike in nuclear-war paranoia in the early 1980s, probably having to do Reagan's finger being on the trigger. Whatever the cause, it resulted in two particularly powerful 1983 films on the subject: the made-for-TV The Day After and Lynne Littman's Testament, which had a theatrical release before playing on PBS's American Playhouse. Starring Jane Alexander (and Kevin Costner in a cameo), the film shows what happens to a suburban family in the Pacific Northwest after a nearby nuclear attack. As it turns out, those killed by the initial blast are the lucky ones; Alexander and her family must suffer through radiation poisoning and sickness, the daily diminution of life this causes, and, for Alexander, the eventual deaths of those around her. Quietly powerful and never overstated. --Marshall Fine
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