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49 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A neglected masterpiece
The premise of this most unusual war film is that Britain was invaded and occupied after the Dunkirk retreat, and in a mixture of documentary and narrative styles it sets out to tell the story of the occupation that the country narrowly (some would say, unaccountably) escaped, up to and including the 'liberation', orchestrated by the efforts of local partisans with...
Published on 24 Nov 2001 by David Gardiner

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
The reviews of this film were somewhat variable, but on balance, it seemed to be a reasonable movie albeit with some reservations.
The reality is rather different however. This is not a commercial movie, rather a specialist or enthusiast film. If you are expecting a script, actors and professional camerawork then better look elsewhere.
If you are willing to...
Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer


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49 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A neglected masterpiece, 24 Nov 2001
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This review is from: It Happened Here [VHS] (VHS Tape)
The premise of this most unusual war film is that Britain was invaded and occupied after the Dunkirk retreat, and in a mixture of documentary and narrative styles it sets out to tell the story of the occupation that the country narrowly (some would say, unaccountably) escaped, up to and including the 'liberation', orchestrated by the efforts of local partisans with American assistance, in the war's closing year.
It is hard to believe that this film began its life as the spare-time project of 18-year-old Kevin Brownlow, a film enthusiast working in the cutting-room of a small London production company, and his 16-year-old schoolboy friend Andrew Mollo, who had a passion for military history and a collection of old German uniforms and regalia. Starting without a budget, using a borrowed 16 mm camera, the two doggedly pursued their dream of completing the project for almost eight years, finding actors, actresses, sets and backing as they went along.
This is a low-key, reflective war drama, which follows its central character, an Irish- born district nurse working in a village near Salisbury, through the horrors of a partisan ambush that goes wrong, to a chilling Nazi-dominated vision of London, where she finds herself assimilated into the highly political "Immediate Action Organization" and receives her "political re-education", on to a rural medical centre specializing in euthanasia for "undesirables", through to the final chilling irony of "liberation" and the wholesale slaughter of "collaborators".
The most famous sequence in the work is a six-minute scene in which genuine Neo- Nazis expound their ideas. The Directors were required to cut this sequence at the behest of its first distributor, United Artists, but it has now been reinstated.
I found this film disturbing, unsettling, unforgettable. The scale of the achievement involved in the creation of a work of this quality from such humble beginnings can hardly be overstated.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible picture of what could so easily have happened, 14 April 2007
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This review is from: It Happened Here [1964] [DVD] (DVD)
Firstly, let's put this into context - less than 20 years after the end of WWII, two young film-makers (18 and 16 years old), with no budget made this extraordinary film. Every single frame was filmed - there is absolutely no stock footage in this at all, yet it all looks so real, from the cinematic news reels to the landscape of bombed-out Britain.

At the time, this film was labelled with controversy - the makers had intended it to be anti-fascist, but some ended up saying it was anti-Semitic. In those days, most films clearly label who are the good guys and who are the bad guys - this does not. Having recently watched "The Sorrow and the Pity" - a documentary comprised entirely of interviews with French people of all political persuasions who lived under the Nazi occupation - this was remarkably similar in the way a country buckles under. Let's remember what Europe was like during the war - a political spectrum of extremes - it was only after the war that the Allies truly came to realise the reality of the National Socialist beliefs.

So... what if the Germans had invaded immediately after Dunkirk? As the "newsreel" at the beginning says, it was a bitterly-contested fight, but eventually, weight of numbers told. Imagine if all the armies involved in Barbarossa were pitted against Britain instead...

This film has a great eye for detail and is cinematically brilliant - I was constantly wondering how the hell they managed to film Germans marching down the Mall, past St Pauls, on London sight-seeing buses, etc etc.

Get this film! It's a must see.
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51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Frighteningly Plausible Film, 13 Mar 2006
This review is from: It Happened Here [1964] [DVD] (DVD)
The mostly amateur actors give a real documentary feel to the film, and the authentic uniforms in London settings give an uneasy thrill. The overall feel is of an Orwellian nightmare, overlaid with UK style images reminiscent of Lacombe Lucien, Is Paris Burning or any number of French period newsreels. The English mini-Nuremburg funeral, the SS-Black Prince Division and the interviews with unrepentant Mosleyites must have been well ahead of their time, and apparently blighted Brownlow's career, but the film is compelling, and often much more brutal than UK films of the period. The partisan style ending in Gloucestershire jolts the viewer, would the British have really behaved like this? Would we have used Wembley as a "Vel d'Hiver" or would Acton Turville be our equivalent of Lidice or Oradour. No stock footage used, but I was sure that I'd seen the images from German newsreels. That is the highest recommendation concerning the reality of the shots.
Well worth viewing.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Pausible Picture of Nazi Britain, 19 Nov 2008
By 
Paul T Horgan (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: It Happened Here [1964] [DVD] (DVD)
The making of this film is as fascinating as its content and has been documented in a book by one of the directors. 8 years in the making on a shoestring budget with most of the parts played by unpaid volunteers and directed by 2 boys in their late teens, this is the only film to answer the question 'What if the nazis had invaded Britain in 1940/41?'

The traditional answer to this question has been that there would have been stiff resistance and no compromise with the invader. However this film suggests that the British are not special or distinct from their follow Europeans and would have behaved in the same way as other conquered peoples.

Pauline Murray plays - Pauline Murray, a district nurse in Wiltshire, an area that degerated into a battleground between Nazi forces and partisans. She witnesses first hand a massacre of refugees during a firefight and escapes to wartime London. There she decides to throw her lot in with whoever is in power in order to find some form of stability, but this turns out to be the fascist collaborators of the German occupation forces. Despite the ideological training she is just in it for the job and views the politics as a nuisance, but then she finds herself arguing the cause with a doctor who is treating a wounded partisan. This leads to her being sent away to a rural hospital which has acquired a more sinister function. We last see her tending to Allied wounded in her black paramilitary uniform. The USA has invaded the UK and liberation is coming. As a collaborator her future will be uncertain once again.

This is just the bare bones of the plot, but that is not the reason to watch this film. The directors have created something remarkable. They immerse the viewer in the 'reality' of occupied Britain. There are street scenes, newsreels and other devices which combine to provide authenticity to the vision. This is also a documentary about something that almost took place.

The film remains controversial as it employed actual fascists to justify their politics in a 6-minute Q&A session. For some reason this caused the film to be labelled anti-semitic, just because some of the actors get to air such views. In reality this film is as anti-fascist as you can get as it graphically takes fascism to its logical conclusions. But it does so without taking a stand. It just shows you the horror and expect you to react the way any decent person would do.

If you are a student of war films and watch them for more than the bangs and crashes then this should be part of your library. Get the book 'How It Happened Here' by Kevin Brownlow if you need to know more about this remarkable film.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic film, 18 Nov 2007
By 
Charles Vasey (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: It Happened Here [1964] [DVD] (DVD)
The work of two teenagers (when the project started) this amateur production with professional goals is a very fine work. Its topic is the effect on England of the succesful invasion in 1940 by Germany. Our heroine is a District Nurse driven out of her West Country village by partisans and displaced to London. Here she joins the Nazi civil support units because there is not much else to do. Her travels through a grainy London, meeting and discussing National Socialism, are grey in colour and gray in content. She is then transferred to a hospital where "undesirables" are processed. Finally captured by the Liberation Army she ends up nursing their wounded.

En route the writers' imaginings of a Fascist England are all too impressive. There are lectures on National Socialism, bombastic newsreels, shots of German troops in famous spots in London. Both sides slaughter prisoners, but the film's real effect is to make the post war Briton think twice about how it would have been.(And perhaps spare a thought for how French and German people suffered).

Given that the Nazis are winning in the film there is a fair amount of non-PC stuff talked. This led to the film being attacked by anti-Nazi organisations. I believe that this was an error because the film makes its point by allowing the other party to talk itself into defeat.

The acting is rather wooden and at times the action slow, but the film remains a tribute to a magnificent obsession and that most english of virtues - amateurism.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A British Masterpiece!, 28 Mar 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: It Happened Here [1964] [DVD] (DVD)
"It Happened Here" Directed by Kevin Brownlow and Andrew Mollo is a Classic of British Cinema. The Film is remarkable in its authenticity, given the fictional scenario, that of the invasion of Britain by the Nazis during World War Two.
The look of this Motion Picture is very raw and earthy which adds to the realism. It is shot in the style of a documentry and I have been informed that parts of the film have been used (in error for Television Documentries) as authentic World War footage.
The German soldiers look perfect, I say this because it is so rare that Directors make such a concerted effort for perfection and detail.
Andrew Mollo and Kevin Brownlow are two of the most talented and unrecognized Directors in Britain. This film is an example of the best of British Independent Film making and I hope the film will get the recognition it deserves now that it is available on DVD.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique - disturbing and provoking, 1 Oct 2006
By 
Chunty (Isle of Wight UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: It Happened Here [1964] [DVD] (DVD)
This has to be the most wonderful example of independent film making of its type. The raw images, simplistic approach and display of genuine uniforms/equipment throughout, make this an absolute must for the military/political enthusiast. I have the greatest respect for any who strive to produce stuff like this between the tentacles of Hollywood's domination. To have done it during the sixties, just twenty years after the war and created footage of the fictional SS English Division strutting past parliament is remarkable - I only wish there was additional off-scene shots showing what must have been dumbfounded passers-by in London's swinging sixties while they filmed this!!

Deep respect for all involved, even the real British Nationalist Socialists who rambled through their ideological madness and reminded me why my grand-fathers were justified in going to war with those who actively supported fascist expansion.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Happening film, 11 Feb 2006
This review is from: It Happened Here [1964] [DVD] (DVD)
I searched for and bought this film based on a review in the magazine SFX and must say I am not disappointed, the film is well produced with an interesting storyline (from the point of view of a nurse forced to join a pramilitary organisation in an Nazi occupied England) Considering the young ages of the writers/producers the film is a triumph. I would reccomend this 100% for any one interested in WW2 and it's influence on the ordinary 'man'. If you are looking for epic battles look elsewere but the images of Nazi soldiers stood with the British 'bobbie' in the shadow of Big Ben are quite chilling.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An uncomfortable classic film about an Occupied Britain, 2 Oct 2009
This review is from: It Happened Here [1964] [DVD] (DVD)
If you've read Len Deighton's 'SS-GB' and thought it might make a good film, well it turns out that the basic idea made a very good film indeed, but over a decade before 'SS-GB' was published. Films of alternative history are fairly rare and good ones rarer still. So because 'It Happened Here' is a good film wherein Britain fell to the Nazis in 1940, it's pretty unusual. (Odder still, its crew were young amateurs at the time.)
None of the various speculative/alternative history books about Occupied Britain come close to being as unsettling as almost any sequence from this film. It's never pleasant to think about how Britain would have stood up to Nazi occupation but this film doesn't soften the choices at all, and its central character (a nurse wonderfully played by Pauline Murray) undergoes a very believable and almost accidental drift into complicity with the occupiers. Some critics complained that the film underplayed the strength of the British will to resist but since the film is set in 1944, i.e. four years after the initial occupation, it's maybe not surprising that some of its characters are downtrodden. (Four years into Nazi occupation and presumably an awful lot of the original British resistance, plus their families, friends, colleagues and neighbours, would have been dead.)
A note of caution though: 'It Happened Here' got itself into hot water in 1964 because of a scene where actual unrepentant British Fascists were allowed to play Nazis and to 'justify' the Reich's polices. The scene in question is toe-curlingly horrible even 45-odd years after it was filmed. Arguably, this (rather long) scene is key to the whole film and needed to be there. However, while the Nazi characters' views are challenged at length and are quite clearly meant to come out looking threadbare, evil and absurd, you can see why a number of people found this scene too much to take. However, please note that while this is a grim film, it's by no stretch of the imagination a celebration of violence or Fascism but quite the opposite: both an uneasy reminder that Britain wasn't tested in quite the way that some other countries found themselves tested and a reminder of the necessity of resistance.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In awe, 23 Mar 2014
By 
T. Lynch (Newcastle Upon Tyne, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: It Happened Here [1964] [DVD] (DVD)
As my heading says, I'm in awe of this film. That two kids, aged 16 and 18 with no money or sophisticated equipment (even by mid 60s standards) could create something so plausible and convincing is incredible. The characters and storyline is great and I love the way that the horror and crimes of Nazi occupation is not shown through violence, but through very ordinary, understated and sometimes mundane situations. The scenes in the hospital are particularly good examples of this. The acting and level of craft is brilliant. This film is not very well known and deserves far more recognition.
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It Happened Here [1964] [DVD]
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