- Testament (film)
name = Testament
caption = DVD cover
Carol Amen(story) John Sacret Young
cinematography = Steven Poster
editing = Suzanne Pettit
December 9, 1983
runtime = 90 min.
language = English
amg_id = 1:49179
imdb_id = 0086429
"Testament" is a 1983
drama filmdirected by Lynne Littmanand starring Jane Alexander. Originally produced for PBStelevision's " American Playhouse" series, it was given a theatrical release instead (although PBS did subsequently air it a year later). Coincidentally, Paramount Pictures, the film's distributor, is now also the distributor for PBS Home Videoproduct.
The film tells the story of how one small
Bay Areatown near San Franciscoslowly falls apart after a nuclear war destroys outside civilization.
Based on "The Last Testament" by Carol Amen, the film script was by John Sacret Young, who would later create the television series "
China Beach". Jane Alexander was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actressfor her performance.
The movie follows the lives of the Wetherly family – husband Tom (
William Devane), wife Carol ( Jane Alexander), and children Brad ( Rossie Harris), Mary Liz ( Roxana Zal), and Scottie ( Lukas Haas), who live in the fictional suburban town of Hamlin, California. The town is a pleasant, well-to-do community within commuting distance to San Francisco, where Tom works.
On one sunny day, Carol, who is a housewife and stay-at-home mother, listens to an answering machine message from Tom telling her he's on his way for dinner, as Scottie watches "
Sesame Street" (another PBS program). The show is suddenly replaced by snow as the signal is lost, and teenage son Brad hits the television, thinking it to be the cause of the problem. But suddenly a news anchorcomes on to announce the true cause:
"This is San Francisco. We have lost our New York signal. Radar sources confirm the explosion of nuclear devices, there in New York, and up and down the East Coast. Ladies and gentlemen, this is real. This is ..."
The anchorman is then cut off by the
Emergency Broadcast Systemhum. The announcer states that the White Houseis interrupting the program and asks people to stay off their phones. As the speaker introduces the President of the United States(who is never seen), the phone rings but goes dead just as Carol answers it. The flash of a nuclear detonation is then seen through the window, and Carol huddles with her children on the living room floor as the town's air raid sirens sound.
Hamlin survives unscathed because apparently the town is far enough away from San Francisco to avoid heat and blast damage. The movie never sets up any background to explain the attack; none of the characters speak of any national or international events prior to the attack.
That night, scared residents meet at the home of Henry Abhart (
Leon Ames), an elderly ham radio operator who has made contact with survivors elsewhere. He tells Carol, who has relatives in Chicago, that he has been unable to reach any station east of Keokuk, Iowa, and another operator said an errant bomb hit Yosemite National Parkbecause trees and rocks are falling from the sky.
A school play about the
Pied Piperwas in rehearsal before catastrophe hit, and, desperate to recapture some normalcy and to divert the children's attention from a reality too horrible to contemplate, the town decides to go on with the show. In the earlier rehearsal scenes, life was normal, the future shone brightly in the children's faces. Now, as the parents watch the performance, they see no future for these beautiful innocents.
Although Hamlin escapes any bomb damage, the town experiences significant
radiationfrom fallout. Residents start dealing with the loss of municipal services and shortages of food and gasoline, and eventually the loss of loved ones to radiation sickness. As the movie progresses, wood for caskets is instead used for funeral pyres as the dead accumulate faster than they can be buried.
Scottie succumbs first, and is buried in the back yard, but Carol screams at the Catholic priest (
Philip Anglim) who starts the funeral that she won't bury Scottie without his favorite teddy bear. Several scenes later, Carol is seen sewing bed sheets, which as the camera cuts to a wider view reveals is a burial shroudfor her daughter, Mary Liz.
Although people die throughout the movie, the movie hints that many are children. One young couple, Phil and Cathy Pitkin (
Kevin Costnerand Rebecca De Mornay), leave town after losing their infant.
In one particularly heartbreaking scene, Carol listens to Tom's voice on the
answering machineone last time before she removes its batteries for other uses.
Brad is forced into an early adulthood, from helping his mother to taking over radio duty for Henry Abhart, who also sickens and dies from radiation sickness. The family essentially adopts a
mentally handicappedboy named Hiroshi when his father, Mike, who runs the local gas station, dies. Before the war, Tom would take Hiroshi fishing with the other Wetherly kids.
Carol, Brad and Hiroshi attempt
suicideby sitting in the family station wagon with the garage door closed ( carbon monoxide poisoning), but Carol cannot bring herself to do it. The movie ends with the three sitting by candlelight for a birthday, but the cake is a graham cracker. Hiroshi presents Carol with Scottie's teddy bear, but does not say where he found it. When Brad asks his mother what they should wish for, she answers, "that we remember it all ... the good and the awful." She blows out the candle, and the movie cuts to an old 8mmsilent film of a surprise birthday party for Tom. He blows out the candles on his cake as the movie ends.
List of nuclear holocaust fiction
List of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Testament (film) — Le Dernier testament Le Dernier testament (titre original : Testament) est un film américain réalisé par Lynne Littman, sorti en 1983. Sommaire 1 Synopsis 2 Fiche technique 3 Distribution 4 … Wikipédia en Français
Testament — A testament is a document that the author has sworn to be true.Testament can refer to: * Old Testament, also known as the Tanakh, the holy scriptures of Judaism and Christianity. * New Testament, holy scriptures of Christianity including the… … Wikipedia
testament — [ tɛstamɑ̃ ] n. m. • 1120; lat. ecclés. testamentum, pour traduire le gr. diathêkê « disposition testamentaire, convention », et pour traduire l hébr. berith « alliance » I ♦ Relig. chrét. 1 ♦ Vx Alliance. « Ils ne sont point demeurés dans mon… … Encyclopédie Universelle
Film D'horreur — Cinéma … Wikipédia en Français
Film d'épouvante — Film d horreur Cinéma … Wikipédia en Français
Film d’horreur — Film d horreur Cinéma … Wikipédia en Français
Testament (Begriffsklärung) — Testament ist eine letztwillige Verfügung für den Todesfall, siehe Testament im allgemeinen Sinne eine Willenserklärung im römischen Recht (lat. testamentum) eine rechtsgültige Verfügung eine göttliche Rechtsverfügung, der Bund Gottes mit seinem… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Testament of Orpheus — Infobox Film name = The Testament of Orpheus caption = The Criterion Collection DVD cover imdb rating = director = Jean Cocteau producer = Jean Thuillier writers = Jean Cocteau starring = Jean Cocteau Yul Brynner Edouard Dermit Henri Cremieuxard… … Wikipedia
Film d'horreur — Le film d horreur, ou film d épouvante, est un genre cinématographique dont l objectif est de créer un sentiment de peur et d angoisse chez le spectateur. Parmi les films d horreur les plus connus, il est possible de citer : Frankenstein de… … Wikipédia en Français
Testament — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Sur les autres projets Wikimedia : « testament », sur le Wiktionnaire (dictionnaire universel) Le mot testament peut avoir plusieurs… … Wikipédia en Français