List of films about nuclear issues

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A nuclear fireball lights up the night in a United States nuclear test.

This is a list of films about nuclear issues:

Documentary films[edit]

Dramatic films[edit]

  • A Boy and His Dog (1975) - the story of a boy and his talking dog in a post-apocalyptic world.
  • Amazing Grace and Chuck (1987) - a 12-year-old boy becomes anxious after seeing a Minuteman missile on a school field trip. He protests the existence of nuclear weapons by refusing to play baseball.
  • The Atomic Cafe (1982) - disturbing collection of the 1940s and 1950s United States government-issued propaganda films designed to reassure Americans that the atomic bomb was not a threat to their safety
  • The Atomic Kid (1954) - a man is in a house within the danger area of a nuclear bomb test area when the bomb is activated.
  • Atomic Twister (ABC, made-for-TV) - a film about a modern automated power plant in the path of a tornado which threatens the plant
  • Barefoot Gen - an anime film based on a manga series which depicts the terror of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima during World War II from the perspective of a child. Although in slow motion, the film is notable for featuring an accurate representation of the bomb's explosion and the effects it had on Hiroshima's people.
  • Battle Beneath the Earth (1967) - a discovery that Communist China, using innovative tunneling vehicles, is tunneling under the U.S. to place nuclear bombs in strategic locations, results in a U.S. effort to foil the plan and defeat them.
  • The Bed Sitting Room (1969) - an absurdist, post-apocalyptic, satirical black comedy set in the ruins of London on a recent anniversary of the nuclear war.
  • The Bedford Incident (1965) - a U.S. destroyer finds a Soviet Submarine and a false alarm causes trouble for the crew on board the ship.
  • The Beginning or the End (1947) - a fictionalized docudrama about the Manhattan Project and the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima.
  • Bridge of Spies (2015) - this Steven Spielberg film depicts the trial of Rudolf Abel for espionage for the Soviet Union. Abel’s lawyer then negotiates a trade of Abel for Americans being held hostage in Germany.
  • Broken Arrow (1996) - a film about two friends in the United States Air Force, who become bitter enemies after one of them steals two nuclear weapons and gives the U.S. government an ultimatum: either pay a huge ransom, or he will destroy a major U.S. city.
  • By Dawn's Early Light (HBO, 1990) - about rogue Soviet military officials framing NATO for a nuclear attack in order to spark a full-blown nuclear war
  • A Carol for Another Christmas (1964) - The Ghost of Christmas Future gives a tour across a desolate landscape of the ruins of a once-great civilization (Hiroshima).
  • The Children's Story (1982) - this short film, which originally aired on TV's Mobil Showcase, depicts the first day of indoctrination of an elementary school classroom by a new teacher, representing a totalitarian government that has taken over the United States. It is based on the 1960 short story of the same name by James Clavell.
  • The China Syndrome - this has been described as a "gripping 1979 drama about the dangers of nuclear power", which had an extra impact when the real-life accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant occurred several weeks after the film opened. Jane Fonda plays a TV reporter who witnesses fears over risk of a meltdown (the "China syndrome" of the title) at a local nuclear plant, which was averted by a quick-thinking engineer. The plot suggests that corporate greed and cost-cutting "have led to potentially deadly faults in the plant's construction".[1]
  • The Cloud - German drama film in which two teenagers try to survive after a nuclear accident.
  • Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002) - in this movie directed by George Clooney, the CIA approaches an actor who becomes an assassin that kills some of America’s enemies.
  • Countdown to Looking Glass (HBO, 1984) - a film that presents a simulated news broadcast about a nuclear war
  • Crimson Tide (1995) - a suspenseful drama about a nuclear submarine, and the mutiny of its Executive Officer, regarding decisions on whether to launch a nuclear missile
  • Damnation Alley (20th Century Fox, 1977) - a surprise attack launched on the United States, and the subsequent efforts of a small band of survivors in California to reach another group of survivors in Albany, New York
  • The Day After (1983) - this made-for-television-movie by ABC depicts the consequences of a nuclear war in Lawrence, Kansas and the surrounding area.
  • The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961) - a drama about nuclear tests that throw the Earth off its course around the Sun, dooming it unless scientists can find a way to reverse the change, and a news team that covers the affair
  • Day One (CBS, 1989) - made-for-TV docudrama about the Manhattan Project
  • The Dead Zone (1983) - a school teacher acquires psychic powers then learns a political candidate will order a nuclear strike at some point in the future
  • Deterrence (film) (1999) - depicting fictional events about nuclear brinkmanship involving the United States and the dropping of a nuclear bomb on Baghdad, Iraq.
  • Dirty War (BBC/HBO, 2004) - follows the journey of a radioactive isotope into England, where it is ultimately turned into multiple dirty bombs and detonated in central London. Meanwhile, the city of London conducts preparedness drills for a possible terrorist attack
  • The Divide (2011) - survivors of a nuclear attack are grouped together for days in the basement of their apartment building, where fear and dwindling supplies wear away at their dynamic.
  • Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) - a black comedy film that satirizes the Cold War and the threat of nuclear warfare
  • Der Dritte Weltkrieg ("World War III") (1998) - a German/American TV mockumentary of an alternate history in which Soviet hard-liners oust Mikhail Gorbachev with the Iron Curtain intact, soon initiating a conventional war which accidentally triggers a full nuclear exchange; the film then rewinds to the point of divergence and ends with jubilant scenes from the "different path" of our history.
  • Fail-Safe (1964) - a film based on the novel of the same name about an American bomber crew and nuclear tensions
  • Fail-Safe (CBS, 2000) - a remake of the 1964 film, broadcast live and in black-and-white
  • Fat Man and Little Boy a.k.a. Shadow Makers (1989) - film that reenacts the Manhattan Project
  • Five (1951) - Four men and a woman together are apparent sole survivors of a global nuclear holocaust.
  • A Gathering of Eagles (1963) - a Strategic Air Command B-52 wing commander must shape up his unit to pass a tough inspection, sacrificing friendships and happiness at home to ensure the wing can accomplish its mission.
  • Godzilla (1954) - atomic tests in the South Pacific awaken a giant, prehistoric monster that threatens to destroy Japan.
  • Goldeneye (1995) - tells the story of a Russian terrorist group trying to settle a score in England by capturing two secret Soviet nuclear EMP weapon and detonating them across the globe
  • Goldfinger (1964) - a businessman plans to irradiate America's gold supply with a dirty bomb.
  • Good Night, and Good Luck (2005) - this George Clooney film the loyalty of some Americans come in question with a rapidly growing communist party and the beginnings of broadcast television.
  • Grave of the Fireflies (1988) - written and directed by Isao Takahata and animated by Studio Ghibli. It is based on the 1967 semi-autobiographical short story "Grave of the Fireflies" by Akiyuki Nosaka.
  • The Hunt for Red October (1990) - based on Tom Clancy's 1984 bestseller of the same title. It involves a Soviet naval captain who wants to defect to the United States with his crew and with the Soviet's most advanced nuclear missile submarine.
  • I Am Cuba (1964) - a Cuban-Soviet film that encompasses the lives of everyday Cubans during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
  • Iranium - a movie about the nuclear weapons program of Iran
  • K-19: The Widowmaker (2002) - covers the Soviet submarine K-19 nuclear accident
  • Ladybug, Ladybug (1963) - During the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, teachers at a secluded countryside elementary school are asked to walk their pupils home after a nuclear bomb warning alarm sounds.
  • Lucky Dragon No. 5
  • The Manhattan Project (1986) - though not about a nuclear war, this was seen as a cautionary tale.
  • Matinee (1993 film) - this film starring John Goodman takes place during the Cuban Missile Crisis and dramatizes the lives of Americans about to meet their impending doom.
  • Miracle Mile (1988) - a film about two lovers in Los Angeles leading up to a nuclear war
  • Nightbreaker (1989)
  • On the Beach (1959) - film depicting a gradually dying, post-apocalyptic world in Australia that remained after a nuclear Third World War
  • On the Beach (Showcase, 2000) - a remake of the 1959 film.
  • One Night Stand (1984) - an Australian film directed and written by John Duigan. Four teenagers are in the Sydney Opera House when news breaks of a U.S.-Soviet conflict in Europe that quickly goes nuclear - first in Europe, and soon in Australia as well.
  • Panic in Year Zero (1961) - a man on a camping trip with his family takes actions to protect them from looters and cutthroats, in a no-law, no-authorities public panic situation caused by a nuclear bomb attack nearby, but a safe distance from him and his family.
  • The Peacemaker (1997) - a U.S. Army colonel and a civilian nuclear expert supervising him must track down a stolen Russian nuclear weapon before it is used by terrorists.
  • Planet of the Apes (1968) - this, and two of its sequels depict Earth after being destroyed in a nuclear war, while two middle sequels depict Earth before such a war.
  • Right at Your Door (2007) - a thriller about a couple in Los Angeles following multiple dirty bomb detonations.
  • The Sacrifice (Sweden, 1986) - a philosophical drama about nuclear war
  • Silkwood (1983) - inspired by the true-life story of Karen Silkwood, who died in a suspicious car accident while investigating alleged wrongdoing at the Kerr-McGee plutonium plant where she worked[2]
  • Space Cowboys (2000) - a space drama film; four older "ex-test pilots" are sent into space to repair an old Soviet satellite, unaware that it is armed with nuclear missiles.
  • Special Bulletin (1983) - a gripping NBC drama about some anti-nuke activists who ironically threaten to detonate a nuclear device in Charleston, South Carolina
  • Split Second (1953) - an escaped killer and his two partners hold a few people hostage in a ghost town that is scheduled to be destroyed by a nuclear bomb.
  • The Sum of All Fears (2002) - a tale of terrorists' attempts to cause a nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia
  • Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) - Superman rounds up the world's nuclear weapons and hurls them into the Sun, resulting in unintended consequences.
  • Testament (PBS, 1983) - depicts the after-effects of a nuclear war in a town near San Francisco, California
  • Thirteen Days (2000) - tells the story of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962
  • Threads (BBC, 1984) - this film, set in the British city of Sheffield, shows the long-term results of a nuclear war on the surrounding area.
  • True Lies (1994)
  • Twilight's Last Gleaming (1977) - tells the story of Lawrence Dell, a renegade USAF general, who escapes from a military prison and takes over an ICBM silo near Montana, threatening to launch the missiles and start World War III unless the President reveals a top secret document to the American people about the Vietnam War
  • Under Siege (1992) - movie about arms dealers who take over a U.S. Navy battleship, and attempt to sell the ship's nuclear-tipped Tomahawk Cruise Missiles on the black market
  • The War Game (BBC, 1965) - an early drama-documentary that depicts the effects of a nuclear war in Britain following a conventional war that escalates to nuclear war
  • WarGames (1983) - about a young computer hacker who accidentally hacks into a defense computer and risks starting a nuclear war
  • Watchmen (2009) - an alternate universe superhero film set in the year 1985 at the height of the Cold War. They are investigating a murder before uncovering a conspiracy.
  • What If?...Armageddon 1962 (2013) - mockumentary; John F. Kennedy is assassinated as President-elect (by a real would-be assassin who lost his nerve after realizing his attack would also kill Kennedy's wife and children), and under Lyndon B. Johnson, the Cuban Missile Crisis leads to a nuclear exchange.
  • When the Wind Blows (1986) - an animated film about an elderly British couple in a post-nuclear war world
  • The World Is Not Enough (1999) - tells the story of a terrorist stealing a nuclear bomb in order to create an accident with a stolen nuclear submarine

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The China Syndrome (1979) The New York Times.
  2. ^ Robert Benford. The Anti-nuclear Movement (book review) American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 89, No. 6, (May 1984), pp. 1456-1458.

External links[edit]