Friday, March 23, 2007

The War Game (1965)

****½
UK

Peter Watkins' docudrama about the harrowing potential of a nuclear attack on Kent gained notoriety, a cinema release and even an Academy Award after BBC (which commissioned it) refused to broadcast it or let other networks do the same. It's a 45 minute piece of hysterical paranoia but its conviction is infectious. Between street interviews with English suburbanites highlighting the local ignorance over the consequences of a nuclear attack, Watkins stages the hypothetical aftermath of one such attack, utilising newsreel techniques with an arresting, matter-of-fact skill, which renders the scenario not only plausible but uncannily, horrifyingly real. And a big part of why these images of destruction and carnage are still so unsettling is that 40+ years on they are about as relevant and conceivable as they were at the peak of the Cold War.

wr/dir: Peter Watkins

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