The War Game & Culloden

English filmmaker Peter Watkins, revered in cineaste circles if little known outside them, is in his early 70s now and hasn't made a movie since 2000. Yet never has his work been more relevant.

With:
With: Michael Aspel, Peter Graham, Peter Watkins.

English filmmaker Peter Watkins, revered in cineaste circles if little known outside them, is in his early 70s now and hasn’t made a movie since 2000. Yet never has his work been more relevant: Pics like “The Gladiators” (1969) and “Punishment Park” (1971) presciently touch on reality TV, our increasing dependence on computers, the war on terror and the Iraq conflict. New Yorker, which has been releasing his work on DVD, grouped equally timely “The War Game” (1965) and “Culloden” (1964) on one disc. Commentaries accompany Walker’s first two professional efforts, but the prints are far from pristine.

Recent events in North Korea and Iran make watching “The War Game” especially chilling. The Oscar-winning docudrama examines the after-effects of a nuclear war in Britain. Though produced by the BBC, it was kept off U.K. TV for 20 years. No wonder: its graphic depictions of radiation sickness and the effects of martial law possess disturbing power even today.

“Culloden,” also produced by the BBC, probes war’s impact from a fantastical premise, filming the last pitched battle on British soil — Culloden in 1746 — as a docu. There, 9,000 troops loyal to George II routed 5,000 Highlanders fighting for a Stuart restoration. But the film is no standard-issue history lesson. Often observed from the grunts’ p.o.v., it uses war and its aftermath to explore social injustice.

The commentaries, each from a British academic, suit the material. Patrick Murphy dissects “The War Game” with soothing avuncularity. And John Cook, a Watkins scholar, peppers his remarks on “Culloden” with both professional expertise and personal insights.

Scratches, spots and speckles mar much of the footage, but it’s unclear whether that represents cheapness on the part of the distributor or an attempt to preserve the atmosphere Watkins clearly prized. Visual splendor was never a goal for either film. Regardless, the lack of restoration in no way subtracts from the pics’ continued value.

The War Game & Culloden

Release: July 25 Single disc: $29.95

Production: A New Yorker Video release of the 1965 and 1964 Peter Watkins films.

Cast: With: Michael Aspel, Peter Graham, Peter Watkins.

More Digital

  • Dwayne Johnson President

    Alibaba's Youku Signs Deals With NBCUniversal, Sony Television

    English filmmaker Peter Watkins, revered in cineaste circles if little known outside them, is in his early 70s now and hasn’t made a movie since 2000. Yet never has his work been more relevant: Pics like “The Gladiators” (1969) and “Punishment Park” (1971) presciently touch on reality TV, our increasing dependence on computers, the war […]

  • Andrea Russett

    YouTube Star Andrea Russett Signs TV, Film Development Deal With Fullscreen

    English filmmaker Peter Watkins, revered in cineaste circles if little known outside them, is in his early 70s now and hasn’t made a movie since 2000. Yet never has his work been more relevant: Pics like “The Gladiators” (1969) and “Punishment Park” (1971) presciently touch on reality TV, our increasing dependence on computers, the war […]

  • Redbox On Demand - Roku

    Redbox Launches Digital Movie and TV Service, Without Disney Titles

    English filmmaker Peter Watkins, revered in cineaste circles if little known outside them, is in his early 70s now and hasn’t made a movie since 2000. Yet never has his work been more relevant: Pics like “The Gladiators” (1969) and “Punishment Park” (1971) presciently touch on reality TV, our increasing dependence on computers, the war […]

  • apple_amf_finisar_gear_20171214

    Apple Invests $390 Million in iPhone X Chips From Finisair

    English filmmaker Peter Watkins, revered in cineaste circles if little known outside them, is in his early 70s now and hasn’t made a movie since 2000. Yet never has his work been more relevant: Pics like “The Gladiators” (1969) and “Punishment Park” (1971) presciently touch on reality TV, our increasing dependence on computers, the war […]

  • T-Mobile and Layer3 TV

    T-Mobile Jumps Into Internet TV Arena With Layer3 TV Acquisition

    English filmmaker Peter Watkins, revered in cineaste circles if little known outside them, is in his early 70s now and hasn’t made a movie since 2000. Yet never has his work been more relevant: Pics like “The Gladiators” (1969) and “Punishment Park” (1971) presciently touch on reality TV, our increasing dependence on computers, the war […]

  • Mediapro, IMG, Film45 Producing Amazon Manchester

    Mediapro, IMG, Film45 Producing Amazon Prime Video Manchester City Series

    English filmmaker Peter Watkins, revered in cineaste circles if little known outside them, is in his early 70s now and hasn’t made a movie since 2000. Yet never has his work been more relevant: Pics like “The Gladiators” (1969) and “Punishment Park” (1971) presciently touch on reality TV, our increasing dependence on computers, the war […]

  • Dreamscape_Logo

    Dreamscape Immersive Partners With Nickelodeon for Location-Based VR Experience

    English filmmaker Peter Watkins, revered in cineaste circles if little known outside them, is in his early 70s now and hasn’t made a movie since 2000. Yet never has his work been more relevant: Pics like “The Gladiators” (1969) and “Punishment Park” (1971) presciently touch on reality TV, our increasing dependence on computers, the war […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content