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War Game, The

Entry updated 23 February 2017. Tagged: Film.

Made-for-tv film (1965). BBC/Pathé Contemporary. Produced, directed and written by Peter Watkins. Narrators Michael Aspel, Dick Graham. 50 minutes, cut to 47 minutes. Black and white.

This pseudo-documentary about a nuclear attack on England and its aftermath in a small town in Kent was refused a showing by BBC TV, though made for them, on the grounds that it was too realistic and might disturb audiences – as indeed it was designed to do. Since then it has had a wide theatrical release and won an Oscar. Though clumsily made, it is full of shattering images: the glare and concussion of the bomb; the raging firestorms; the hideously disfigured casualties; torment and slow death from radiation poisoning; mass cremations; buckets of wedding rings gathered from the dead; and execution squads, composed of uniformed constables, shooting looters. Its first UK television showing was in 1985. The novelization, by Peter Watkins himself, is The War Game (1967). [JB]

see also: Cinema; World War Three.


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