Tuesday 1 January 2019

A Quick Look at Threads on Blu-Ray

In terms of British TV, it's unlikely that anything will ever be produced with the same emotional punch and raw, unforgiving honesty of Threads. And we should be grateful for that. Since it first aired in 1985, Threads has consistently terrified every single viewer that's happened to stumble across it. Positioned as a documentary following the dismal fortunes of a Britain caught up in a nuclear attack, Threads confronts all the social, economic and political horrors awaiting in a post-apocalyptic landscape and holds them up to the viewers' trembling eyes with a relentless vigour.

For decades, Threads was only available on VHS bootlegs and then a series of bare-bones DVD releases which failed to do justice to the story behind the shocking visuals. Thankfully, a remastered DVD was finally released by Simply Media in 2018. Packed full of more features and commentaries than you could shake a dead rat at, it covered every aspect of the production from special effects down to the casting process. And, several months later, Simply Media have released an upgraded Blu-Ray edition to try and bring an added level of sharpness to all those charred corpses and nuclear sheep.

You can find my thoughts on the themes and narratives contained within Threads over at my review of the remastered DVD here, so I won't bore you by going over that again (in short: It's unparalleled brilliance and I love it). Instead, I thought I'd take a quick look at the Blu-Ray edition and see what it brings to the table.

The HD capabilities of Blu-Ray are clearly there to enhance and bring more detail than ever to pictures, so how does Threads fare? Well, Threads was filmed on film rather than video, so it's in a good position to benefit from the restoration. It was, of course, filmed on 16mm film which imparted a gritty level of grain and fuzz to the original presentation, so this is still present and makes a flawless picture virtually impossible. Add to this, as the disclaimer at the start of Blu-ray states, the age and condition of the original prints has affected the picture quality to some degree. However, given all that, there's now a sharpness to the picture that hasn't been seen previously.

Only one additional extra has been added since the DVD's release (but that release is frankly rammed with extras) and that is the premiere of the director approved widescreen version. Rather than bringing previously unseen elements to the picture, though, this widescreen effect is generated by cropping the original image. Therefore, you get to really see Ruth munch down on the innards of a radioactive sheep with a closeness that is almost unbearable. Personally, the widescreen cut didn't really do much for me as it added little to the experience, but if you can't stand black bars on your TV set then it's a worthy solution.

The Blu-Ray edition of Threads is undeniably a step-up from the DVD release due to the enhanced picture and, for the many Threads obsessives out there, it's going to look fantastic on your shelves. And, by using the code CURIOUS10 over at Simply Media, all Curious British Telly readers can receive a 10% discount!


  1. Glad - well glad isn't quite the right word - to see this available on blu. This film scarred the holy bejesus out of me. I think it was the best of that era's nuke films.

  2. My dad worked at RAF Finningley in the 80s, so we would have been right under one of the bombs ...