This is not a Test

The film “This is not a Test” was an American film produced in the midst of the cold war specifically in the year 1962. The film and several others were produced as way of increasing awareness about the possibility of a nuclear war between the two nuclear superpowers: the United States and the Soviet Union. The movie begins with a United States enforcement officer receiving orders to install a road block in a rural road in the State of California.

The officer stops several vehicles and their occupants as one way of dealing with the threat of bombardment. Threats are heard over the officer’s phone and this complicates his work as he attempts to carry out his orders and keep the group of people detained in order. When the possibility of an attack becomes imminent, the officer and the rest of the gathered citizens attempt to protect themselves from the attack by converting a truck into a temporary bomb shelter.

But the chaos of the attack leads to anarchy and in the process the law enforcement officer is atomized while some of the others drive away to safety. The film portrays the level of fear which was prevalent in the early days of the cold war and shows the kind of anarchy that an actual war could bring.

The movie makes one thing clear, the pointless nuclear race which nearly led to assured mutual destruction of both states and allies. The Soviet Union was bent on perpetuation of its communist agendas and saw military supremacy as one way of ensuring the continuation of its intentions.

This included assisting countries perceived to be communist against the threat of capitalistic societies. This included supporting Cuba’s government against US invasion and the subsequent placement of Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba. There was as an effort by the Soviet government around this time to take over Berlin which nearly put the nation on a collision course with Western powers.

The United States employed several policies and interventions during the cold war as a way of containing the Soviet threat. This included increased armament to deter Soviet aggression under the principle of assured mutual destruction. This would mean that an attack on US soil would lead to a swift counter attack on Soviet territories.

A nuclear war seemed inevitable during the Cuban missiles crisis when the United States saw the Soviet’s placement of nuclear missiles as direct threat to the security of the United States. The movie assumes that this tension actually leads to a nuclear war and shows the kind of carnage and chaos such a war would bring to our society.

Both governments employed intelligence and security organs in promotion of their cold war agendas and propaganda. The Soviet Union used secret police agencies to bear down on oppositions and those perceived to be against communism were executed. The American government created organs like the CIA to conduct spy missions and even orchestrate attempted coups in countries like Cuba. But the people of both nations just wanted peace and this might be a reason for subsequent reduction in nuclear weapons and a stop to the arms race.

The movie shows the kind of fear that the threat of a nuclear war would put on a nation and bring all other activities to a halt. It is also clear that the country is ill prepared to shield its people from the effects of such an attack as is demonstrated by the officer trying to convert a truck into a bomb shelter.

The message here is for nuclear disarmament since the losers in a nuclear war would be the citizens of the involved nations and no side can hope to emerge victorious with mutual destruction being assured. As in the case of those who drive away to safety, avoiding major cities in a nuclear war seems to be the best way to survive. Diplomacy then is the best way of solving issues and nations should refrain from acts which can be deemed as a threat to the security of others.


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