The War Game. BBC Documentary 1965 2000ft B/W

#1 by Tom Photiou , Wed Sep 04, 2019 10:19 pm

First of all, i apologise for the lack of images on this opening of the thread, i will add some over the next week but i just wanted to watch this film with no interruption or taking pictures throughout, however, here is the review for those who may be interested.

Thanks to a fellow collector I have now, in the last few weeks acquired this superb 1965 BBC docudrama The War Game on 16mm.
Supplied on a 2000ft spool it has to be said that the print is excellent with pin sharp b/w image with very good sound and virtually no marks which in itself, for the age of this print is quite astonishing. To say I am pleased with this would be an understatement. As some of you may recall I put this title up as a wanted item. Paul Foster did kindly mail me to say he could supply part two only but I declined at the time as I wanted only the complete episode. Without the first part there would be no build up.
What stands out about this film is how gruesome it is for a BBC TV drama from the mid-60s. It didn’t get shown on TV until 1985. Personally, I think this is laughable, to wake people up to the realities of what a nuclear war would be like, (back then), you need to be brutally honest and the only way to do this would be to make it as it was made, graphically realistic with no holds barred. Why it is the media always want everything to be pink n fluffy around the edges. The only way people can be shown something they haven’t experienced, but potentially could, is to show it how it is, or at least, to get it as realistic as possible.
This is what this TV Drama does, and even today it packs a real punch.
A rare but excellent TV docu-drama which I am very pleased to own and very grateful to the collector I obtained it from. I know you will be looking in.

With the help of Wiki, here is a detailed description for those interested.
The War Game is a 1965 blend of television drama and documentary which depicts a nuclear war. Written, directed and produced by Peter Watkins for the BBC, it caused dismay within the BBC and also within government, and was subsequently withdrawn before the provisional screening date of 7 October 1965.
The corporation said that "the effect of the film has been judged by the BBC to be too horrifying for the medium of broadcasting. It will, however, be shown to invited audiences.
Despite this decision, it was publicly screened and shown abroad, winning the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 1966.
The film was eventually televised on 31 July 1985, during the week before the fortieth anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, the day before a repeat screening of Threads.
The War Game depicts the prelude to, and the immediate weeks of the aftermath of, a Soviet nuclear attack against Britain. The narrator says that Britain's current nuclear deterrent policy threatens a would-be aggressor with devastation from Vulcan and Victor nuclear bombers of the British V bomber force.
The film begins on Friday, 16 September (presumably 1966; this date wouldn't appear again until 1977). A news report tells of a Chinese invasion of South Vietnam; tensions escalate when the United States authorises tactical nuclear warfare against the Chinese. Although Soviet and East German forces threaten to invade West Berlin if the US does not withdraw, the US does not acquiesce to communist demands and the invasion takes place; two US Army divisions attempt to fight their way into Berlin to counter this, but the Russian and East German forces overwhelm them in conventional battle. In order to turn the tide, President Johnson authorises the NATO commanders to use their tactical nuclear weapons, and they soon do so. An escalating nuclear war results, during which larger Soviet strategic IRBMs are launched at Britain. The film remarks that many Soviet missiles were, at the time, believed to be liquid-fuelled and stored above ground, making them vulnerable to attack and bombings. It hypothesises that in any nuclear crisis, the Soviet Union would be obliged to fire all of them as early as possible in order to avoid their destruction by counterattack, hence the rapid progression from tactical to strategic nuclear exchange.
In the chaos just before the attack, towns and cities are evacuated and residents forced to move to the country. On 18 September at 9:11am, a doctor visits a family with an ill patient. As he finishes checking up on her and steps outside the air-raid sirens start to wail in the distance, followed by a klaxon horn from a police car. The doctor rushes back in with two civil defence workers and starts bringing tables together to create a makeshift shelter. Suddenly, the town of Rochester is struck by an off-target one-megaton Soviet thermonuclear warhead aimed at RAF Manston, a target which, along with the Maidstone barracks, is mentioned in scenes showing the immediate effects of the attack. The missile's explosion causes instant flash blindness of those nearby, followed by a firestorm caused by the blast wave. The air in the centre of the firestorm is replaced by methane and carbon dioxide and monoxide and the temperature rises to about 500 degrees. The firemen soon pass out from the heat in the chaos. By then the V-bombers carrying green Yellow Sun gravity bombs and blue steel cruise missiles reach the border of the Soviet Union and presumably breach anti-aircraft defences by using a special instrument in their cockpits to jam defending radar signals. They head to their counter value targets, civilian cities.
Later, society collapses due to overwhelming radiation sickness and the depletion of food and medical supplies. There is widespread psychological damage and consequently a rising occurrence of suicide. The country's infrastructure is destroyed; the British Army burns corpses, while police shoot looters during food riots. The provisional government becomes increasingly disliked due to its rationing of resources and use of lethal force, and anti-authority uprisings begin. Civil disturbance and obstruction of government officers become capital offences; two men are shown being executed by firing squad for such acts. Several traumatised and bewildered orphan children are briefly featured, questioning whether they have any future and desiring to be "nothing." The film ends bleakly on the first Christmas Day after the nuclear war, held in a ruined church with a vicar who futilely attempts to provide hope to his traumatised congregation. The closing credits include a version of "Silent Night".

An updated drama was made in the mid 80s called threads. Also a very good, but scary viewing.

Images to follow.


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RE: The War Game. BBC Documentary 1965 2000ft B/W

#2 by Greg Perry , Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:31 pm

Tom,

Thanks for posting this detailed review...sounds very interesting! With a similar theme, I thought the made for TV movie, "The Day After" from 1983 was pretty good too...



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RE: The War Game. BBC Documentary 1965 2000ft B/W

#3 by Tom Photiou , Thu Sep 05, 2019 7:42 am

Grey,
Yes i did forget to mention that one. Another very well made for tv movie on the same subject. As ot happens,the day after has been shown a few times recently on one newer digital channels.

Darn, ive posted this in the wrong place.could you move it to 16mm reviews please?



 
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Last edited 09.05.2019 | Top

RE: The War Game. BBC Documentary 1965 2000ft B/W

#4 by Tom Photiou , Tue Aug 31, 2021 7:12 pm

Further to my original review here posted, i am now adding some screenshots. I viewed this 16mm print today and never fail to stunned at how well made this is bearing in mind it was made in 1965, (released in 66)I first saw a 16mm showing of this film is a hall near my home to an invited audience and have never forgotten how silent everyone was one the last title went up at the end and lights came on. I think everyone was bit taken back by how intense this film was.
Again, with the help of wiki, i would like to add the following to this review thread,

The War Game is a 1966 British pseudo-documentary film that depicts a nuclear war and its aftermath. Written, directed and produced by Peter Watkins for the BBC, it caused dismay within the BBC and also within government, and was subsequently withdrawn before the provisional screening date of 6 October 1965. The corporation said that "the effect of the film has been judged by the BBC to be too horrifying for the medium of broadcasting. It will, however, be shown to invited audiences..."
The film eventually premiered at the National Film Theatre in London, on 13 April 1966, where it ran until 3 May. It was then shown abroad at several film festivals, including the Venice one where it won the Special Prize. It also won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 1967.
The film was eventually televised in Great Britain on 31 July 1985, during the week before the fortieth anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, the day before a repeat screening of Threads.
The film was shot in the Kent towns of Tonbridge, Gravesend, Chatham and Dover. The cast was almost entirely made up of non-actors, casting having taken place via a series of public meetings several months earlier. Much of the filming of the post-strike devastation was shot at the Grand Shaft Barracks, Dover. The narration was provided by Peter Graham with Michael Aspel reading the quotations from source material.
Roger Ebert gave the film a perfect score, calling it “one of the most skilful documentary films ever made." He praised the "remarkable authenticity" of the firestorm sequence and describes its portrayal of bombing's aftermath as "certainly the most horrifying ever put on film (although, to be sure, greater suffering has taken place in real life, and is taking place today)." "They should string up bedsheets between the trees and show "The War Game" in every public park" he concludes, "It should be shown on television, perhaps right after one of those half-witted war series in which none of the stars ever gets killed." David Cornelius of DVD Talk called it "one of the most disturbing, overwhelming, and downright important films ever produced." He writes that the film finds Watkins "at his very best, angry and provocative and desperate to tell the truth, yet not once dipping below anything but sheer greatness from a filmmaking perspective an unquestionable masterpiece of raw journalism, political commentary, and unrestrained terror.



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RE: The War Game. BBC Documentary 1965 2000ft B/W

#5 by Maurice Leakey , Tue Aug 31, 2021 8:55 pm

The film was given an X certificate for showing in cinemas.
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0059894/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0
I too, have a copy of this on 16mm. It is, indeed, a disturbing film.


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RE: The War Game. BBC Documentary 1965 2000ft B/W

#6 by Tom Photiou , Tue Aug 31, 2021 10:21 pm

It is strange why they ban such an important film at a time nuclear war was a big possibility.
Again, this was censors hiding a possible truth, this was the sort of thing that should have been shown to warn people of what was possible. Instead, like today, they didn't want people to know. While horrifying the subject and content was for the time it was made, it was, and is a very important piece of Television. A time when the BBC made good programmes.
This copy was thanks to a fellow collector who knew i was looking for a print of this milestone film.


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RE: The War Game. BBC Documentary 1965 2000ft B/W

#7 by Greg Perry , Tue Aug 31, 2021 11:42 pm

Tom,

Those are some shocking pics and they really capture the disturbing nature of a nuclear bomb attack as it was understood at the time that film was made.
Makes no sense to me that censors would block this. I suppose they didn't want any type of wholesale panic with the public, but sometimes reality is what people need to see to get them to fully understand the risks of that type of war.



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RE: The War Game. BBC Documentary 1965 2000ft B/W

#8 by Maurice Leakey , Wed Sep 01, 2021 9:21 am

Perhaps the BBC of the time were remembering the trouble caused in the USA by the Orson Welles' radio broadcast of "War Of The Worlds" in October 1938.
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/i...luke-180955180/


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Last edited 09.01.2021 | Top

RE: The War Game. BBC Documentary 1965 2000ft B/W

#9 by Tom Photiou , Wed Sep 01, 2021 2:27 pm

Thats a good point Maurice but i think when that went out, it was done in a way that it was acually happening wheras, the war game is clearly stating if this happened.


 
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