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The Unknown Soldier

Discussion in 'Words and Music' started by pd, Apr 22, 2008.

  1. pd

    pd Slightly Desperate Staff Member

    "And somewhere there's a button, and a silent satellite,
    and a bastard who would press it
    and an everlasting night".

    I've always have a soft spot for this song. Lately I've been looking at old documentaries about nuclear conflict. I'm not sure why, I caught a thread on another forum where people were talking about films they'd been shown at school during the cold war that had affected them.

    I started off with the 1965 documentary "The War Game". This was of particular interest as it was made the year I was born. It was very effective, showing the breakdown of civil structures and a glimpse of the horrors such a conflict would present.

    Last night, however, I watched "Threads" which is a BBC production from 1984 that was apparently shown in a lot of schools at the time. If I'd watched this at the tender age of 15 or whatever, it would have scared me to bits. Even now, it's affected me greatly. The film is set in Sheffield and the first half introduces you to the characters, and builds up to a global conflict showing the reactions of the people as it becomes more evident that this is for real. Finally the first bomb drops. Nothing is left to the imagination... you see melting milk bottles, melting people, falling buildings, the lot. A lady in the supermarket urinates herself as she sees the bomb drop a few miles away.

    The absurdity of the "Protect and Survive" plans as were then distributed by the government becomes apparent. The film includes some of the audio from it.

    There follows days of utter and complete chaos, the start of fallout, the onset of the nuclear winter as the sun is shielded for many months by the changes in the atmosphere, then the subsequent extreme ultraviolet as protective layers in the skies are temporarily stripped. Civil unrest, the shooting of people for looting and stealing food. Allocation of food on a strict "function" basis - 1000 calories per day for people that can work, 500 for those that cannot; the unspoken intent is that the weak will eventually die so it's best to give most food to the able bodied.

    The breakdown of society and sheer hopelessness as the UK reverts to population levels from mediaeval times with no roads, no fuel, no communications.

    The final horrible last few frames.

    As you can tell this has affected me deeply. I think we've become very complacent about the dangers of nuclear conflict since the demise of the USSR, but the threat is still there, and very real, and there are many potential triggers with the middle east seeming the worst to me now.

    If you want to see what has prompted all this you can watch "Threads" at http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2023790698427111488 but be warned, it is not easy viewing - but it is ultimately both educational and thought provoking.
  2. SHAUN I

    SHAUN I It's so clear on the wings of the dawn

    A powerful piece of film, it just hit home hard to me that the demise of the human race could be so easy, and it seems we are at the mercy of politicians and warmongerers. As you quite rightly point out Paul we can get very complacent, nuclear war has been invested in mightily over the years and who really knows what technological developments have been uncovered in recent times. Quite scary to imagine such a scenario but hypothetically it could all be too easily over at the flick of a switch (or as Roy would say "at the flick of a sledge") :angry:

  3. Travellerman

    Travellerman Aye lad, I knew you had it in you

    It's a wonderful song, one of my favourites. I think I have seen it played live too, but it must have been back in the 80's. :D
  4. aspwatterson

    aspwatterson The Unknown Soldier

    Unknown soldier

    Always loved it and it's not too hard to play. Have always loved the shape C with no barre on the third fret and have regarded it as a 'Harper' sort of chord for many many years. Even in North Country it can be used and others..

    The real unknown quantity soldier :24:
  5. sughosh

    sughosh I've got a zappy little nappy

    A beautiful song from an album sadly full of terrible production decisions, not to mention Dave Gilmour's awful "Run-like-hell" disease. A lot of the songs on this LP would have been SO much better without all the fancy stuff. Roy should consider re-recording it acoustic

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