Monday, August 9, 2010

'The War Game' is chilling look at consequences of nuclear war

Today is the 65th anniversary of the A-bomb being dropped on Nagasaki, the second such weapon to so far ever be used in war. This is perhaps one of the most appropriate reviews I could post on this day.

The War Game (1964)
Starring: Michael Aspel and Peter Graham
Director: Peter Watkins
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

"The War Game" is an extremely well-done docu-drama depicting what a Soviet nuclear strike might have done to a small British town located between two targets for enemy missiles. It is perhaps the most real-seeming film I've ever seen of this kind.

Originally produced for TV but eventually only released in movie theaters because the British censors thought the film too intense, this is a bone-chilling exploration of the hell that those who survive a nuclear strike will suffer.

While the filmmakers annoyingly show their political leanings during the course of the film ("by jove, those peace-loving Soviets won't have a choice but to fire nukes at heavily populated areas if those eeeevil Americans and their NATO allies use a small-scale nuke on the battlefield") the vast majority of the film is gut-wrenching and very difficult to watch.

Because this film is difficult to watch, it's tempting to turn it off and dismiss it with the thought that it's outdated--a historical artifact that now can only serve as a time-capsule to give us a glimpse into the attitudes of people during first decades of the Cold War. Unfortunately, this is untrue. We still live under the threat of suffering the sorts of horrors that this movie depicts. Equally unfortunate, though, is that an increasing number of people who control nuclear weapons would actually desire to inflict the horrors in this movie upon the world... they might even see it as their divine duty. It's imperative that the civilized peoples of the world do what they can to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, so we may avoid scenes like those in "The War Game" becoming reality.

Or, for that matter, have a repeat of what happened 65 years ago today in Nagasaki.

Oh, another reason to watch this film is that it won the Best Documentary Oscar for 1964. Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 911" is therefore not the only work of fiction to win in the wrong category.

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