We recently took a look back at The Day After, a controversial TV movie about nuclear war that was definitely pretty grim stuff when it aired in 1983.
The same year, another anti-nuke message was delivered in a much more entertaining way, WarGames, which starred Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy, and was a big hit at the box office. There’s apparently a lot of interest in WarGames again with an upcoming remake, and the film was also just screened again at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Having seen WarGames again myself several years ago, I felt it held up pretty well, even with computer technology as primitive as it was back then. We were just entering the age of home computers, and computer hacking was also another phenomenon that was just coming into public consciousness then as well. In an article published by the Wall Street Journal, a hacker named Pablos Homan said WarGames said he believed the movie marked the "first time hackers were portrayed as we really are, and honestly, the last time."
The screenplay for WarGames was written by Lawrence Lasker (Sneakers) and Walter Parkes, who later became an executive at DreamWorks, and they originated the script when they were both students at Yale, and the film was directed by John Badham, who also helmed Saturday Night Fever, Blue Thunder, and Short Circuit. Badham was brought in when the original director, Martin Brest (Beverly Hills Cop) was fired, and he had to start helming the film in three days.
You wouldn’t know that anyone had to come in at the eleventh hour seeing the completed film, but Badham’s always been a pro, and this wasn’t the first time he had to come in and save the day on a movie, as he also replaced John Avildsen (Rocky) when he got fired from directing Saturday Night Fever. Like The Day After, WarGames also gave the world an important message, although in a way that was much easier to digest.
As Badham told Collider, "This one of the world’s oldest messages and you keep hammering away at it and it’s hard to get through which is, there’s no point to this. This doesn’t make any sense, and I think we will always be faced with that problem. Having lived through World War II, you know there’s always people who say, ‘This is just insane, what’s going on.’ And yet, when you have people attacking you, as in 9/11, what are you going to do? You can’t lie down. You have to do something, but that doesn’t make it less insane."
When asked about the upcoming remake, Badham said, "The real trick would be to find something that is as groundbreaking as it was, in terms of the idea. Nobody wants another computer hacker movie, unless it’s something amazingly different."
And in its time, many at first thought something like this could never really happen, but sure enough, a real life hacking incident took place several weeks after the movie came out by a group calling themselves The Milwaukee 414, who hacked their way into the defense department.