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Testament (1983)

Jane Alexander , William Devane , Lynne Littman  |  PG |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (138 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Jane Alexander, William Devane, Rossie Harris, Roxana Zal, Philip Anglim
  • Directors: Lynne Littman
  • Writers: Carol Amen, John Sacret Young
  • Producers: Andrea Asimow, Jonathan Bernstein, Lynne Littman, Gary Khammar, Jon Barbour
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: December 7, 2004
  • Run Time: 89 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (138 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00062IDJW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #135,702 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Testament" on IMDb

Special Features

  • "Testament at 20"
  • "Nuclear Thoughts"
  • Timeline of the Nuclear Age

Editorial Reviews

In TESTAMENT, an unexpected nuclear strike has occurred and no one knows who did it or why it happened. With her husband away on business, and now unable to be reached, Carol Weatherly must remain strong for the sake of her children. Things take a turn for the worse once food and other supplies become scarce. . The film is directed by Lynn Littman.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
161 of 167 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Displays the sometime power of an understatement December 10, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
Two anti-war films were released in 1983: The Day After and TESTAMENT. The former, released in the US as a made-for-TV movie, was visually sensational: missile launches, mushroom clouds, disfigured survivors, urban landscapes turned debris fields. However, the latter illustrates the notion that an understatement can sometimes be more compelling.

In TESTAMENT, Jane Alexander plays Carol Wetherly, the wife and mother of a 5-member family living in rural suburbia somewhere near Central California's Bay Area. Husband William Devane is off in San Francisco, never to return, the day the Soviet H-bomb falls upon it. Jane's character is left to manage alone the family's survival as their community, otherwise untouched directly by blast damage, copes with post-Holocaust disintegration. While some friends and neighbors leave the area for parts unknown, the Wetherlys remain.

TESTAMENT is not graphic in its depiction of nuclear war's devastation. What makes it absolutely compelling is the vision of a community, much like mine and possibly yours, and a particular family, everyday folks like you and me, facing the insidious effects of starvation and radiation sickness as they descend into the darkness necessarily to follow a nuclear exchange between superpowers. Ms. Alexander's performance is soul-wrenching and powerful, as when she cries out for God's damnation of those politicians that have reduced her world to an endless horror.

TESTAMENT is not a feel-good film, but certainly a great one. It's an exercise in bleak despair, and one which ultimately focuses on nothing more than the basic human instinct to survive - the final tribute to a species that has engineered the means for its own destruction.
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79 of 81 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
"Testament" is the most intimate and arguably the most disturbing of the films made in the early 1980s dealing with the aftermath of a nuclear war. "The Day After," which also aired in 1983, is the most obvious example, but there was also "Special Bulletin" (1983), the BBC-produced "Threads" (1984), the animated "When the Wind Blows" (1986), and a Soviet film the title of which escapes me at the moment. Unlike the rest of those films, there are no harrowing scenes of nuclear explosions or people ravaged by radiation sickness. In that regard, "Testament" is almost naive; radiation sickness is nothing more than dark shadows around the eyes of the characters. But this is not a movie about special effects; the nuclear war consists of nothing more than a bright light outside the window with telephones and televisions suddenly going dead (the film is set in Hamlin, a small California town not far from San Francisco, the obvious target). The rhyme and reason for the war is of no consequence in the final analysis. Instead, this is a story about facing the end of the world, recalling the film "On the Beach" (1959) more than any other work in this genre.
Based on "The Last Testament" by Carol Amen, the "Testament" script is by John Sacret Young, who would later create the television series "China Beach," and offer many moments of subtle lyricism despite the subject matter. The focus is on the family of Carol Wetherly (Jane Alexnader), whose husband Tom (William Devane) went off to work that morning and never came back. The Wetherly's have three children, Brad (Rossie Harris), Mary Liz (Roxana Zal), and Scottie (Lukas Haas), and it is what happens to them after the bombs go after that affects us over the course of this 90-minute film.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Film About Nuclear War January 31, 2006
Testament was a breakthrough movie for two reasons. It actually was commissioned as an episode of PBS's American Playhouse. When it was finished, PBS thought that it was too good for television and released it in movie theaters. It was a major hit and garnered Jane Alexander a Best Actress Oscar nomination (she should have won). The second breakthrough was the first film to deal with a nuclear attack from the survivor's point of view without saying who sent the missiles or bomb. All other films before that and even after assigned blame, this did not care what the cause was just the effect.

Hamelin, California is a small suburb of San Francisco. It is a typical small town of any large city. The Wetherly's are a typical suburban family with father Tom (William DeVane) and mother Carol (Jane Alexander). They have three children, the oldest Mary Liz (Roxana Zal), the middle child Brad (Brad Harris) and the baby Scottie (Lucas Haas). The family has their problems but nothing too crucial or untypical for suburban family. You might expect this to be a film about adultery or a family coping with loss. But this is a film about something more compelling.

The family is watching TV when an alert comes on just saying that nuclear bombs have been exploded on the east coast. Then a bright flash occurs. No one knows what happened for sure. The community is confused but everyone is okay. Then they go into survival mode.

Two weeks have past and those remaining try to restore normal life. But the fallout is starting to have its effects on the population. Survival turns to desperation then to despair. People continue to die. The first in the family to show signs is Scottie and he goes first. Larry, a neighbor kid that was staying with them is next.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Captures the social aftermath of a nuclear attack with stark, matter-of-fact accuracy.
Published 3 days ago by Caprica Blu-Ray
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Absolutely gives you a heart break.
Published 18 days ago by Bones Kelley-McCoy
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Have been looking for this movie for years!
Published 19 days ago by Sunshine43221
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
really good movie. makes you wonder what you would do in a similar situation
Published 1 month ago by michael
5.0 out of 5 stars THE HORROR, THE HORROR
The most devastating movie I have ever seen. I was haunted by this film from the first time I saw it. Read more
Published 1 month ago by thepace
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth the time
A tremendously effective view of the tensions of the time period.
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A Testament to masterful filmmaking
Let's get this out of the way... I LOVE end of the world (society) movies. This, however, plays on an entirely different level than most popcorn fare. Read more
Published 2 months ago by James Williams
4.0 out of 5 stars Good story, or awful story
Good story, or awful story, depending on how you talk about it. This portrayal of a potential Armageddon type situation is both upsetting and addicting to watch. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Erika Croy
5.0 out of 5 stars Sad sad sad...but compelling
Saddest movie in history!
Published 2 months ago by Livia
5.0 out of 5 stars must watch
humbling depiction of what could be a soon reality in some form or another. although made in the 80s we are on the brink again now
Published 2 months ago by Brian Armstrong
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