Fear of nuclear proliferation was a definite threat in the Reagan era 80’s. Movies like The Day After played into those fears. Another film that deals with the consequences of nuclear fallout is 1983’s Testament. Testament is a small, quiet film about the effects of nuclear fallout on a family and a community. The director, Lynne Littman, is a veteran of documentary films, and she brings a certain truth and realism to the story. There are no mushroom clouds or special effects, just human eff…cts. Jane Alexander plays the mother, and she’s the rock that keeps her family together. She deserved the Oscar nomination she received that year. A very young Kevin Costner also makes a cameo.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track comes off rather flat. I had to turn it the volume up at many points just so I could hear the dialogue. Some surround action might’ve added to the impending horror. But all we get is a mediocre front heavy mix. Too bad.
The 1:66:1 widescreen transfer is little better than the audio. But not by much. The graininess of the original material is quite evident. Colors become more muted and dream like towards the end, which is intended. The transfer is good, for the understated nature of the film.
There are three featurettes here. “Testament at 20″ is a reunion type retrospective with the cast and crew. It runs about 25 minutes. There’s an odd “Testament: Nuclear Thoughts” piece. The featurette combines archival nuclear warning ads and current day thoughts. A strange mesh that doesn’t quite work. “Timeline for the Nuclear Age” is an informational text feature about the history of the nuclear bomb.
You have to be in the right mood for Testament. There’s nothing feel good about it. The movie is about a slow, quiet passage into death. There’s nothing showy about this film. And Jane Alexander gives a touching, courageous performance. Depressing? Yes. Still relevant? I’d say so.
Special Features List
- 3 retrospective featurettes