What Do Children Think Of When They Think Of The Bomb? (1983)

It’s pretty chilling to hear kids’ candid thoughts on the persistent threat of nuclear apocalypse, and even more chilling to hear their speculation on what a nuclear attack might be like.  This 1983 short film commissioned by WNET “goes there”, combining interviews with the kids with performance pieces featuring those kids and tossing in animations designed and directed by John Canemaker.

This film is the nuclear scare of the ’50s meeting the public broadcasting mission of the ’70s meeting the emergence of the “treat childrens’ opinions as something to maybe pay attention to” trend of the ’80s.

The kids are treated as adults, with opinions that matter.  There are several points at which the film could go in a shrill ‘won’t someone please think of the children’ direction, but it doesn’t happen. Any silliness comes from the charm of the kids’ performance pieces, and woven through the entire film is this gut-punched-thread of ‘why do kids need to worry about this sort of thing?’

The animations are simple and effective, and roll through an impressive variety of styles.

Check the piece out.  It sucks that it has to exist, but I’m glad it was made and you’d be hard pressed to find any of the points raised in this film that don’t still resonate today.

-ds