The War Game

"Excellent"

The War Game Review


1965 was a tricky time to be making a mock documentary about the perils of nuclear war. Ask Peter Watkins: His devastating, 50-minute docudrama about what a nuclear strike on England might be like was so horrific that it was banned by the BBC (which had funded it's creation) for 20 years.

The narration doesn't pretend that what we're seeing is real. Watkins carefully sets up the fact that we're watching a hypothetical examination of the future. But on screen, these don't look like actors. These look like real people, burned, scarred, dismembered, and homeless, thanks to radioactive fallout and the chaos that follows from a nuclear strike.

Though it's in black and white, The War Game has a frightening realism to it, such that it's indistinguishable from actual documentary footage from any recent conflict with civilian casualties. You can imagine the effect this might have had on viewers in the highly paranoid '60s, had they been allowed to actually see it.

Today, the film retains much of its power, though several similar films produced in its wake may have robbed The War Game of some of its fire. Still, especially considering the experience will set you back less than an hour, it's highly worth investing your time in.

The DVD comes on the same disc as Watkins' Culloden, another faux documentary about the last war fought on British soil, where Bonnie Prince Charlie's attempt to recapture the throne met with tragic defeat. Featuring interviews with the "soldiers" and footage of the battle, it's an anachronistic delight.

The DVD features commentary on both films (from outside experts).



The War Game

Facts and Figures

Run time: 48 mins

In Theaters: Tuesday 7th February 1967

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Fresh: 11 Rotten: 1

IMDB: 8.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Peter Watkins

Producer: Peter Watkins

Starring: as Commentator

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