Well that was easy! On this day 25 years ago in 1989, after four and a half decades of tense stand-off, the leaders of the United States and the Soviet Union got together on Malta (of all places) and declared the Cold War fini. (It was, at the time, officially scored as a tie, subject to later recount).
“We are at the beginning of a long road to a lasting, peaceful era,” declard Soviet Premiere Mikhail Gorbachev.
“We can realize a lasting peace and transform the East-West relationship to one of enduring co-operation. That is the future that Chairman Gorbachev and I began right here in Malta.” echoed US President George H.W. Bush.
After generations spent perched on the brink of global annihilation, the world took a deep breath – before moving on to finding other ways of making a mess of itself.
The Cold War is now a distant memory; the Berlin Wall has been broken up to serve as tchotchkes and lawn ornaments around the world. But why not relive the fading epoch tonight on the quarter-century anniversary of its finale by watching one of these depictions of the era, available on your favorite streaming services:
1. “Dr. Strangelove, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” ( 1964) Amazon, iTunes: Stanley Kubrick”s blistering comedy retired the crown on Cold War satire. Peter Sellers and George C. Scott lead the dark hilarity from the depths of the situation room.
2. “The Spy Who Came In From the Cold” (1966) iTunes, Amazon: The greatest big-screen adaptation of a novel by the bard of Cold War espionage, John LeCarre. Richard Burton stars in this Martin Ritt directed film about a cat and mouse game of spies in divided Berlin ,playing a game of chasing shadows where truth becomes ever more elusive and no one is spared the costs of a life of deception.
3. “The Hunt for Red October” (1990) Amazon, iTunes, Netflix: Tom Clancy”s submarine-based cat and mouse story became one of the very best Cold War action films. The specter of Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin facing off across the East/West divide while under a very chilly sea is the most fun you can have looking back on the those fateful days.
4. “The Lives of Others” (2006) iTunes: Perhaps the most beautiful and compassionate rendering of the Cold War from the other side of the wall. This film about an East German master-policeman whose moral clarity unravels as he sinks deeper into the most complete surveillance state ever erected in human history won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
5. “The Americans” (2013 – ) Amazon, iTunes: This FX retro-thriller series about a family of Soviet spies living undercover in Reagan era Washington DC has quickly become a critics” favorite. Watch and enjoy for their vast line-up of disguise wigs alone.