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The War Game [DVD] [1965]

4.4 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

Price: £69.99
Only 3 left in stock.
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Product details

  • Actors: Michael Aspel, Peter Graham, Kathy Staff, Peter Watkins
  • Directors: Peter Watkins
  • Writers: Peter Watkins
  • Producers: Peter Watkins
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: Bfi
  • DVD Release Date: 3 Feb. 2003
  • Run Time: 47 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00007LZ57
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 98,748 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Peter Watkins' celebrated drama-documentary about an imagined 1965 nuclear attack on Kent. Vividly detailing the public and private consequences of nuclear hostility, the film refutes any idea that Britain might survive such an attack and offers a strong critique of the philosophy of nuclear deterrence. Although made for the BBC in 1965, the corporation refused to sanction any TV screenings of the film until 1985; however, it did find an audience on a 1966 cinema release, which also earned it the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. This edition also features Watkins' 'The Diary of an Unknown Soldier' (1959) and 'The War Game - The Controversy', a new documentary looking at the 'banning' of the film.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
These days I guess "The War Game" has been overshadowed by the similar 1980s offerings "Threads" (one of the most terrifying films you will ever see) and "When The Wind Blows". In its day "The War Game" caused untold controversy and was actually banned by the British Government from being shown for about 20 years. I believe it was finally first aired to coincide with the 40th anniversy of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs in 1985. It shows the effects of an all-out nuclear attack on Britain, not just the horror of the attack itself, but the after-effects too, with the country being turned into a ruthless police state, having people put up against a wall and shot for stealing food. It's not as graphic as "Threads", and because it was made so much earlier the effects of a nuclear drop aren't quite as devestating as we know it would be now, but I guarantee you will still find this highly disturbing viewing. And the one line where the narrator describes the sound of the nuclear impact as "like a giant door being slammed in Hell" will stay with you.
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Format: DVD
I watched this when studying the Cold War at school, and I was barely able to speak afterwards. Although it was made in the sixties and looks somewhat dated, this film is extremely effective, giving a very realistic glimpse of what would have actually happened if the Soviets had dropped atomic bombs on Britain. It combines contemporary interviews about nuclear issues with 'footage' of a nuclear attack on Rochester and its aftermath. Starting with the thirty-second warning, what was a quaint English town quickly becomes hell on earth. The images of countless charred bodies, screaming and suffocating people, riots and executions are more shocking than anything else I've ever seen. There is the overriding sense of how quickly a civilised community can degenerate into lawlessness, as we are shown how the police have to impose martial law. It's remarkably well-acted, and looks very authentic via the use of shaky hand-held camera work (reminiscent of Saving Private Ryan). It is made all the more disturbing when we are told that the kind of events being shown are highly possible 'before 1980'. As this film was made in 1965, one can appreciate why it was banned; it really would have caused mass hysteria. I'm not easily disturbed, but this documentary really did leave me with tears in my eyes. As absurd as it sounds, I will definitely not sleep very well tonight after seeing this. The War Game should be shown to everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, to make sure we never, ever, EVER even consider the use of nuclear weapons. It would, quite literally, mean the end of human civilisation. Although it is certainly not an enjoyable experience, the War Game is essential viewing for every human being.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Although not as visually shocking as 'Threads', 'The War Game' till has the power to shock even after four decades. Made after the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1963, the film deals with the build up to a possible nuclear confrontation (I will not spoil the plot by revealing details) and the direct aftermath of an attack on the town of Rochester in Kent.

As well as addressing the utterly destructive nature of nuclear war, it shows the totally inadequete state of Civil Defense procedures in the UK at that time. The latter was probably the main reason why it was banned by the BBC. Some of the scenes continue to be as startling as ever - a police firing squad executing two looters being one of them. Fortunately we never stepped across the nuclear threshold, although we came close on several occasions. I have always been a supporter of the nuclear deterrent and continue to be so - but this film should be seen by all. It's message remains relevant and it still has the immense power to shock and frighten.
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Format: DVD
Several films and television programmes ('This Is Spinal Tap', 'Drop Dead Gorgeous', 'The Office') have hijacked the conventions traditionally associated with documentary to comic effect. Here, the use of a documentary address is used with a much more serious purpose to address a grave subject. The film presents a hypothetical small scale nuclear attack on Britain as if it were an actual event being captured by a documentary crew. Such an approach lends a startling immediacy to the horrifying image, and makes it much more difficult for the viewer to consign them in their mind to the realm of fiction. Its power to shock is demonstrated by the fact that the BBC banned it for 20 years. And although it perhaps looks somewhat dated, its discussion on nuclear warfare could hardly be of greater contemporary relevance.
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Format: DVD
I think any review of The War Game needs to put this film in its proper context. When this film was made Britain still had a full Civil Defence organisation and had plans for the recovery of Britain after nuclear attack. The public generally believed it could endure and recover from a nuclear strike. Against this absurd backdrop The War Game was made. Although their were many dissenting voices against nuclear war, ranging from Bertrand Russell, EP Thompson and CND, no one quite brought the insanity of this position into clearer focus than Peter Watkins.

What Watkins did in his film was nothing less than revolutionary; he described any "protection" against nuclear attack to be madness and the effects of even a single bomb to be so overwhelming as to make preparations pointless. This position was already known in government - as early as 1957 a white paper clearly stated there was no protection against nuclear attack.

Watkins' bleak, visionary film shows just how absurd the position was Britain had taken by the 1960s and that any attack with nuclear weapons would be devestating on an unprecedented scale. Civil defence was shown to be futile, nothing more than smoke and mirrors to be used in peacetime to try and convince the public to accept awesome risk.

If The War Game has a weakness it is in that Watkins massively underestimated the effects of nuclear attack on the UK. In his defence almost no one had seriously and critically researched the effects of nuclear attack on the UK at that time and that it would nearly 20 years later in his book, War Plan UK (Paladin Bks.), would journalist Duncan Campbell reveal just how devestating nuclear attack would be.
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