I don't really know how to start this post. I'm pretty shocked and horrified, you see. I've just finished Threads, a TV-movie made in 1984, about how a single nuclear bomb hit may affect the UK. It's suffice to say that the movie is way too realistic to go unnoticed, unremarked, to let you leave it without the urge to cry. I don't know what else to tell about it, before delving into one of the far too many lessons to learn from it. Should I say that it is not your typical horror movie? That the movie chronicles a little more than 13 years in the characters' lives? That when it was made and first broadcasted this nuclear bombing incident was a possibility, that this movie had a chance to become a reality? That society just crumbles and one starts to somewhat envy the dead?
No, I wanna go to the lesson as quickly as possible, I want to just let it off of my mind. You see, the main reason for the movie's power is that we have feelings and empathy for the victims. We identify with them, we know their normal ways of lives, and they feel real. We also see how the bombing affects them. Them and not some random people, them and not some red-shirts. We get to know the people only to see them become the victims of the bombings.
The bombing itself occurs about 35-40 minutes into the movie. Up until that moment we got to know about 10 characters pretty-pretty well. We watched the Kemps banter, we watched the Suttons say their last goodbyes, and we watched the love story of Ruth and Jimmy who are going to have a baby and so decide to marry. And after we got to know them, the pain is so much stronger, so much more close to home.
But it is more than that. Because we know of people who feel for each other, we feel their fears for their loved ones. We feel for Mr. and Mrs. When they cry for not being able to save their children, but also we cry for them when they only fear it. We cry for Ruth who fears of her baby being deformed, and we hope for Ruth to find Jimmy when she goes out to try and find him.
We also see how they change, how they become quite monstrous themselves when they have to commit crimes in order to survive, how they change to the "dog-eat-dog" mentality. It's the feelings than we have for them that enable the movie to touch us on so many levels, on so many emotions (from the d'aaw in the beginning to the "oh-my-god" of the ending and all those feelings in the middle).
And we can also use it in our games. When we want the players to fear for a city, or to feel for a kingdom, we have to get the players and their characters to know the people there. To know and feel they human-ness in them. Bring those faces out and show them to the characters and to the players who play them, and when the city will be under threat, or when the country will be under a nuclear threat, the players and the characters will do their best.
How about you? What did you learn from this movie? And even more important, how did you feel afterwards?