Review: ‘The War Game’

The War Game was originally made by BBC-TV for showing on TV, but corporation brass had second thoughts after it had been completed, decided it was unsuitable for mass audiences, and ordered it to be kept off the airwaves. As a result of political and press agitation, it was eventually agreed to make it available for theatrical release through the British Film Institute.

The War Game was originally made by BBC-TV for showing on TV, but corporation brass had second thoughts after it had been completed, decided it was unsuitable for mass audiences, and ordered it to be kept off the airwaves. As a result of political and press agitation, it was eventually agreed to make it available for theatrical release through the British Film Institute.

A wholly imaginary picture of what could happen immediately before, during and after a nuclear attack on Britain, The War Game is grim, gruesome, horrific and realistic. It is not a pleasant picture to watch, but yet it is one that needs to be shown as widely as possible.

The attack itself is predictably grim, but the most telling part is the aftermath of the bomb – the severely burned are killed off and their bodies burned, and looters face the firing squad.

Watkins, who left the BBC in protest when it was banned, does an excellent and imaginative job, based on considerable research.

1966: Best Feature Documentary

The War Game

UK

Production

BBC-TV. Director Peter Watkins; Screenplay Peter Watkins; Camera Peter Bartlett; Art Director Michael Bradsell

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1966. Running time: 50 MIN.

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