02 September 2011

A Less than Lovely War


Even in the playgrounds of Lower Hutt, Peter Watkins’s 1965 docudrama The War Game was discussed with alarm. And we had only heard the terrifying trailer. The film portrays Britain before, during and after a nuclear attack. Originally made by Watkins for BBC, the governors of the Beeb got the heebie-geebies. They said it was unsuitable for a mass audience and banned it from broadcast. After an outcry, it was released to cinemas.

Variety describes The War Game as “grim, gruesome, horrific and realistic … 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.”

Even though there was no hope of seeing it mid-60s New Zealand, just knowing about it almost kept me awake. Now it can be viewed via the always-worthwhile site The Documentarian.