19 November 2023 / Annie Waite

Nuclear film season screenings

Local DJ and film fanatic Dave Valentine curates a mini season of nuclear-themed films starting 25 November, including BBC TV archive drama Threads, and smash hit Oppenheimer.

Dave Valentine DJingIn our forthcoming mini season of Nuclear war-themed screenings starting on Saturday 25 November with Dr Strangelove, local Hastings DJ and film fanatic, Dave Valentine (pictured) presents his favourite and most affecting films in the nuclear ouevre.

Here, Dave explains some of the background to the season and why you should come along!

What prompted you to want to put on a Nuclear films season?

I was chatting about the then recently released Oppenheimer with the Electric Palace's Antonia Clarke, which led to a discussion about other films that revolve around the topic of nuclear war.  I then worked with the team at the Electric Palace to programme a season of nuclear-themed films and this is what's coming up during November and December.

Book now for Oppenheimer at the Electric Palace on Thursday 30 November and Friday 1 December. The Friday screening includes an introduction from Dave.

Threads from the BBC archive seems to have had a major impact on people who saw when it aired in the early '80s. Did it have a significant impact on you?

I'd just turned six when Threads first aired in September 1984, so I don't recall the actual broadcast, but I can remember some of the ripples it caused, as well as elements of the Cold War nuclear threat of the era.

This was a few years after the chilling Protect And Survive campaign, and the TV was full of stark warnings about a possible nuclear war. I remember my mum getting upset about some of the coverage, worried about what would happen to the family cat if the bomb dropped.

My dad recorded Threads from the TV broadcast onto a VHS, but my sister and I were forbidden from watching it. Even though I was already becoming a film fan at that young age, and was permitted to watch action films like Mad Max 2, my parents knew that the down to earth gritty realism of Threads would probably have been too upsetting for me at the time.

A few people - men and women - in collapsed buildings and scenes of distruction, looking concernedI was eventually allowed to watch it around 1992, and it quickly became a favourite. Yes, it was still disturbing, but it also became the basis of my GCSE Media Studies coursework, where I edited together a supercut of cinematic explosions, also incorporating the nuclear blasts from Aliens and Terminator 2.

Book now for Threads plus introduction from Dave Valentine, on Saturday 9 December, 7.30pm.

Peter Sellers is on hilarious form in Dr Strangelove (Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb). As well as it being a great anti-war film, why should people come along to see it?

Every time I revisit Dr. Strangelove, I'm always bowled over by Sellers' performances, playing three of the main roles, and can't help but think he should have won the Oscar that year (although it was a competitive year with heavyweight nominees such as Richard Burton, Peter O'Toole, Anthony Quinn and Rex Harrison who won).

There's one scene towards the end of the movie, where Sellers as the titular Dr. Strangelove is talking about the plans for when World War 3 kicks off, Sellers is being so hilarious, that actor Peter Bull is clearly corpsing on screen. Given that the film's director, Stanley Kubrick, was such a notorious perfectionist, either he didn't notice the actor momentarily breaking character, or it was the best take he could get.

Book now Dr Strangelove (Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb) - with introduction from film historian and cinephile, Ben Newell - on Saturday 25 November, 7.30pm.

Ben will also be hosting an excellent interactive film course focused on Stanley Kubrick - book now for Let's Talk Film: Everything you wanted to know about Stanley Kubrick, on Wednesday 6 December, 7.30pm. ("A great night of Let's Talk Film with Ben Newell and stimulating audience discussion. Don't miss next month's films and more discussion." said one of the attendees at a recent Let's Talk Film course Ben hosted.)

Are there other films you'd have liked to have included in this season but the rights weren't available?

I really wanted to screen 1988's Miracle Mile. An absolute gem of a film, which starts out like a typical boy-meets-girl romcom of the era, but pivots into a Threads-like nightmare. It's long been a favourite, and is one I'll always recommend to fellow film fans. I suspected there might be an issue with the rights, as it was unavailable on DVD for about 15 years.

What other niche film streams might you like to put together?

It could be interesting to follow up the Nuclear War season with a series of Post-Nuclear films, such as Planet Of The Apes, Mad Max 2 or 3, and maybe some lesser known titles like A Boy And His Dog or Hardware.

Shiva Baby poster showing woman in dress looking at camera provicativelyI recently discovered the subgenre "Chamber Movies", which describes some of my favourite kinds of films - those which are set in one location, often in real time, with a minimal cast. Films such as Twelve Angry Men, Rear Window, The Lighthouse and, my favourite film of the 2020s so far, Emma Seligman's incredible Shiva Baby (also lauded by Lazy Girls Film Club's Eleanor Gwynne).

Book now for Dr Strangelove, Oppenheimer and Threads, all coming soon!

And watch this space for some of Dave's follow up season films in the new year. Thanks Dave for this inspired new season and we look forward to welcoming you all to the screenings. 

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