I’ve had the movie 5ive on my to-see list for a long time, and finally took the time to sit down and watch it.
Released in 1951, 5ive is the earliest example of a true post-nuclear war survival story that I know of. Other movies like Things to Come from 1936 showed a future where civilization had crumbled due to extended war, but coming out just six years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 5ive is likely the first such story of the Atomic Era.
The titular five are survivors of a world-wide nuclear apocalypse, four men and a woman, who stumble across each other and gather in a home up in the mountains. Initially, they appear to get along and work together, but eventually differing opinions lead to arguments, and ultimately, to violence.
There are several things in this movie that will feel very familiar to anyone who’s seen more than a few post-apocalytic films. For example, one of the earliest bones of contention between the survivors is the classic question of whether it’s better to stay out of town where it’s safe, and try to eke out a living by farming, or to go back to the cities where there are more resources than they could ever hope to use.
And when the woman, Roseanne, staggers through a deserted town, we see crumpled newspapers with headlines like “World Organization Collapse Imminent” and “World Annihilation Feared by Scientist – Savant Warns Against New Bomb Use”. That newspaper thing has been used countless times since then, but considering the movie is 60 years old, that was probably an original idea back then.
Also considering it’s age, there were a lot of plot points that were fairly progressive for the time. Roseanne is revealed to be pregnant early on, and in a photograph we see that her husband was African-American. One of the survivors, Charles, is also African-American, and when the racist Eric arrives, that sets up a conflict where his exclusionary beliefs are definitely shown in a negative light.
Overall, when looked at from today’s perspective, 5ive is a little slow, and there are some huge logic flaws in the plot. But given its position as possibly the very first film of its kind, I would call it a classic, and I definitely think it’s worth watching.
Check out the trailer below, and if you feel like giving it a shot yourself, it’s available to rent from YouTube.