Although we’ve moved on to different conflicts, it’s hard to believe we live in a world where there is no Cold War. Not just that, but there are people who have never experienced first hand that kind of looming fear such as we had during that period. The 80s seemed to be in Russia vs. America overdrive in many ways, and has been well documented in the arts. I mean c’mon, 99 Luftballoons?!? We also had several films that presented a dark, dystopian future because many of us wondered what we’d like to be if we grew up! But perhaps nothing truly captured that sense of utter destruction the way the made for TV movie The Day After did. It was 1983, and I remember the complete terror I felt just knowing it was coming on TV! It was that scary because it didn’t make us face our fears through the implication of nuclear war, it made us face our fear by showing us the actual devastation of nuclear war. Obviously, this film impacted so many of us and art filmmaker Nathan Meltz taps into his experience of watching the film when it first aired in 1983. He made a short called After the Day After, which is a scene for scene retelling of the nuclear attack told through animation. He calls it “Dada-collage-meets-stop-animation.” It’s pretty funky and sort of moves nuclear destruction into a Terminator like parallel universe. Mixing footage from the film with industrial robots conveys a never-ending cycle of destruction that begins with humans and carries on into other realms. Of course, I’m not an art student, and you should check out Nathan’s film here and decide for yourself. You can also read an interview with him here.
I'd also love to hear what you think of Nathan's film, so please feel free to comment.
While The Day After certainly resonates with so many of us, I think it would be interesting to explore these recesses of memories in other art works. Can we not envision a Bad Ronald sculpture or a stained glass Zuni Fetish Doll? Damn, I wish I were more artistic!
And finally, you can read an absolutely fantastic article about The Day After by clicking the link!