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WarGames 1983 Cold War thriller

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War Movies

What is the best way to present a thriller about genuine danger that could end all life on Earth within hours? Yes, you guessed it - by using Matthew Broderick as boy-genius and home-grown hacker and Ally Sheedy as girl-next-door, who for some unknown reason decides to hang around with him. Well, it wouldn’t be my personal choice, but obviously back in 1983 this was the best that Hollywood could do.

Early 1980s, during Cold War, American crews operating the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) silos across the USA are put to the test - they are given the red alert signal, which according to their procedures should prompt them to launch the rocket immediately. But the results of the test were disappointing - even despite their strict instructions most of the crews would not launch the missiles without further confirmation from their superiors. For the NORAD headquarters officers this was the worst possible scenario - if any of the crews will hesitate this could mean that there will not be a retaliatory strike in case of Soviet nuclear attack. Their solution was suppose to remove the human factor from the procedures - they replaced all the ICBM silos crews with the terminals of their central computer called War Operation Plan Response (WOPR). Meanwhile high school student David Lightman, while trying to hack into system of software production company, accidentally ends up in part of the WOPR and runs, what he believes, a game that simulates the nuclear war with Soviet Union. He does not realize that he just put the whole American defence into highest alert.

WarGames wasn’t first war movie that was trying to show how dangerous could be relying on the technology without supervision (1964 Fail Safe just to name one), but while it had potential to be quite good Cold War thriller the use of teenage genius motif was a huge mistake that failed to fulfil all the promises that the movie made at the beginning.


  • The studio had the Galaxian (1979) and Galaga (1981) arcade machines delivered to Matthew Broderick's home, where he practised for two months to prepare for the arcade scene, which... has absolutely no meaning in the whole movie.
  • This movie inspired congress to create and update the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1984. Representative Dan Glickman (D-Kansas), opened the proceedings by saying: "..are gonna show about four minutes from the movie WarGames, which...outlines the problem fairly clearly." A House committee report solemnly intoned: "WarGames showed a realistic representation of the automatic dialling and access capabilities of the personal computer."
  • The writers' main inspiration for the character of Professor Stephen Falken was Cambridge Professor Stephen Hawking. Hawking was originally approached to appear in the movie, but he declined because he didn't want the producers exploiting his disability.

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War movies

War movies blog - the best war movies in history (or sometimes the worst). We search the war movies from around the world - not only classic American war movies or British war movies, but also those less known or just less interesting films from other countries. Each of them presents the different face of the war - some concetrate on soldiers and most important battles in history, but others present the suffering of the civilians and the trauma of the men involved in the fighting.

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