The War Game

Peter Watkins

Britain before and after the nuclear attack that happens as a result of the escalated Cold War. The government tries but fails to take the situation under control. This Oscar-winning film is disguised as a documentary and TV news, thus undermining the propagandistic nature of all media during times of war.

Classic fake documentary from 1965 in which Peter Watkins spins out a fictitious but terrifying ‘what if’ scenario: what if a Russian atomic bomb were dropped on the southeast of England? What exactly would the consequences be? Watkins bases this on sound sources, including government documents and academic research into the consequences of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. To depict even more accurately the effect of a nuclear war on the man in the street, Watkins used non-professional actors.
The War Game, deliberately filmed as a dynamic news report, stirred up great controversy. The British government, shown as incompetent in the film, put the BBC - which commissioned the film from Watkins - under pressure to not broadcast the film; it then indeed spent twenty years on the shelf. A limited cinema release was permitted, however, and in 1967 The War Game even won an Oscar for ‘Best Documentary’, after which the film became an influential part of the ban-the-bomb movement.

More information

Filmmaker
Peter Watkins
Country
United Kingdom
Year
1965
Medium
35mm
Length
48
Language
English
Producer
Peter Watkins
Production Company
BBC
Writer
Peter Watkins
Cinematography
Peter Bartlett, Peter Suschitzky
Editor
Michael Bradsell
Production Design
Tony Cornell, Anne Davey
Cast
Michael Aspel, Peter Graham