Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The War Game

The War Game is a 1965 made-for-tv documentary of the future. It is directed by Peter Watkins and explores the beginnings of nuclear war and the aftermath of a Soviet attack on Britain. It won the Academy Award for Documentary Feature in 1966. You can read more about it at the Museum of Broadcast Communications.

It's online here:

Slant Magazine comments on the film's timeliness:
Could it be that his scathing indictment of England's lack of awareness of what would happen during a nuclear attack in The War Game mirrors a global lack of awareness today? admits it is dated but says that
in a time when punditry plays an ever-increasing part in people's understanding of policy and there's still uncertainty about the state of the world's arsenals, The War Game, as a think piece, can still move audiences to think. And shudder.

Independent Film Quarterly explains some of the film's history:
Despite winning an Academy Award, two BAFTA awards and a prize at the Venice Film Festival, The War Game was suppressed from general viewing in Britain for decades and was rarely viewed in other countries as well. This mainly stems from the horrifying realistic portrayal of the initial damage and aftereffects of a nuclear attack on Great Britain.

The statements of Church officials are sickening. As I watch the movie my stomach tightens and tears come to my eyes. Frightening. No wonder they were afraid to show this film.

Song for Three Soldiers
Stephen Vincent Benét

Oh, where are you coming from, soldier, fine soldier,
In your dandy new uniform, all spick and span,
With your helmeted head and the gun on your shoulder,
Where are you coming from, gallant young man?

I come from the war that was yesterday’s trouble,
I come with the bullet still blunt in my breast;
Though long was the battle and bitter the struggle,
Yet I fought with the bravest, I fought with the best.

Oh, where are you coming from, soldier, tall, soldier,
With ray-gun and sun-bomb and everything new,
And a face that might well have been carved from a boulder,
Where are you coming from, now tell me true!

My harness is novel, my uniform other
Than any gay uniform people have seen,
Yet I am your future and I am your brother
And I am the battle that has not yet been.

Oh, where are you coming from, soldier, gaunt soldier,
With weapons beyond any reach of my mind,
With weapons so deadly the world must grow older
And die in its tracks, if it does not turn kind?

Stand out of my way and be silent before me!
For none shall come after me, foeman or friend,
Since the seed of your seed called me out to employ me,
And that was the longest, and that was the end.

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