March 3, 2011

Netflix'ns: The War Game

Netflix'ns is a series of review shorts of films, new and old, seen on Netflix, be it DVD or streaming. For better or worse, I sat through these films and have lived to tell the tale. These are not so much reviews as just comments on the film watched. Some will be first time views, others will be revisits. This is a work in progress.

I stumbled across this one quite by accident. As a matter of fact I am not sure where it was that I first saw the title to add to my Netflix queue. Whatever it was, I am glad it happened. You see, The War Game is pretty fantastic. I hesitate to use words like great or fantastic as they conjure up a certain image. The War Game is an effective, disturbing, and unsettling horror. That's right horror.

It is not a traditional horror film, no. This is a docu-drama about the aftermath of nuclear war. It won an Oscar for best documentary in 1967 and was banned by the BBC for being too disturbing. It is fictional, but it is based on truth. Research into bombings in Germany, test bombings, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and research by psychiatrists and physicians.

The War Game is short, barely crossing the 45-minute mark, but that is all it need. The film opens telling of China invading Vietnam, the US threatening nuclear action, Russia siding with China and shutting of the Berlin corridor, while NATO moves nuclear weapons into position in Europe. An exchange takes place and the focus is put squarely on a small village in England.

Voiceover narration discusses the evacuation of woman and children, the effects of radiation, the running out of food, the arming of the police, a firestorm (literally), the casualties the remaining doctors deal with. It is all quite realistic and unsettling.

Yes, there are a few moments that reveal the fake nature of the film, but it is is no enough to lessen the impact. By and large the Peter Watkins directed film hits like a sledgehammer and lingers on long afterward. Not bad for a film made nearly 50 years ago.

This is a must see.

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