Concern about the possibility of nuclear war reached one of its highest levels in the early 1980s, with a Cold War showdown over nuclear forces in Europe and the growing militancy of the worldwide anti-nuclear campaign. With images of nuclear confrontation closer to mass consciousness than at any time since the early 1960s, two films dramatized the scenarios of an apocalyptic world. The made-for-television The Day After was controversial and much-watched; Testament, the much better feature film on the same theme, was comparatively less noticed. Jane Alexander did get an Oscar nomination for her searing performance as a mother trying to protect her family in a small California town. By humanizing the unfathomable, writer John Sacret Young and director Lynne Littman avoided sensationalism while retaining authenticity. Testament comes closer to an unflinching examination of nuclear annihilation than any film since Stanley Kramer's On the Beach (1959). Kevin Costner has a minor role.
by Michael Betzold review