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With: Michael Aspel, Peter Graham
Written by: Peter Watkins
Directed by: Peter Watkins
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 121
Date: 11/01/1965

The War Game (1965)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Nuclear Glower

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Peter Watkins (Punishment Park) directed this horrifying and insidiously effective propaganda piece, a documentary that imagines a potential nuclear attack scenario. Watkins films in black-and-white, with an authoritative-sounding narrator, resulting in a totally deadpan, straightforward presentation, suitable for the BBC. (Ironically, the BBC banned the film for decades.) But more than just a "The Day After"-type scare-fest, Watkins takes pains to damn the government, not only for its pretend, inhuman "evacuation" methods, but also for its lust for nuclear war in the first place. Nevertheless, The War Game is useful as an warning against nuclear attack, packed with seemingly accurate facts about temperatures, radiation and the chances of survival.

DVD Details: New Yorker has released this important film on DVD, complete with a second film, Watkins' earlier Culloden (1964), which uses the same techniques to depict a futile 1746 battle between the Scotsmen and the English. (Watkins, of course, draws parallels to the Vietnam war.) Both films come with commentary tracks (from dry, British scholarly types), and both films include optional English subtitles. The package also includes an informative 12-page booklet.

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