My first reactions toward this film were of shock and surprise, the film leaves no room for imagination. Peter Watkins’ intent is to shock, educate and to encourage disarming nuclear weapons. The film is graphically trying to get a strong message through, the message being that nuclear warfare needs to be seriously talked about and soon. Before a lot of innocent people get hurt. After adjusting to the graphic detail I began to see that it was necessary for this use of grotesque scenes and mind blowing facts and statistics to get the viewers attention.
The parts of the film that worked best for me were when the nuclear weapon air-bursted and when you got to see people’s reactions after the nuclear attack. The film is about the events of a nuclear attack on England and is set over a period of four months it has three main parts, the build up to a nuclear attack, the nuclear attack and the aftermath of a nuclear attack. The storyline is basically that the Chinese had invaded Vietnam and the Germans and Russians approved this so to show their support they invaded Berlin and threatened to invade West Berlin unless the Americans forget their ideas on using nuclear weapons on Vietnam.
NATO’s forces try to get into Berlin but fail so the president confirms that NATO can use nuclear weapons on Vietnam and they do. In retaliation to this the Russians release nuclear weapons on Britain. The film was shelved by the BBC in 1965 denying it transmission because, “The film was too horrifying for the medium of broadcasting, expressing a particular concern for children the very old or unbalanced” and was not shown until 1985 even though it won an Oscar for best documentary in 1966. Personally I don’t see how the world in 1985 was ready to see the film but the world in 1965 was not ready.
Peter Watkins intentions in making this film was to get his message through this message being that war is not a game especially not nuclear war, he wants the world to know the consequences of nuclear war, consequences that could lead to the total destruction of the world. The film is informal and in a news reel documentary style but yet documentaries are factual so the film has to be a drama documentary style. My views toward nuclear warfare are that is wrong and I hope that I never live to witness it. After studying a play called “An Inspector Calls” by J.
B. Priestly I discovered a quote that defiantly relates to this film, ” We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other. And I tell you that the time will soon come when, if men do not learn this lesson, then they will be taught in fire, blood and anguish. ” The title is very clever and effective; it mixes two words that are not usually associated together. The words war and game are oxy-morons. Most people associate the word war with lost loved ones or family, physical and mental damage, mechanized slaughter and generally grotesque images.
Where as the word game is associated with children, playing, fun and mostly good things. When the two words are combined they create a paradox. The title catches the viewers’ eye, it makes the viewer wonder what the film could be about. The way the title is set on the screen is also clever it shows the title in bold, normal dull writing so that it just tells you what it is, no more, no less it makes people think of it more seriously as if war is not a game. The use of black and white film in my views worked very well in this film.
It once again gives that feeling of its there, you can’t argue with it, almost as if it’s a statement. The best use of black and white film was when the nuclear warhead air bursted and the film went in to negative, this gave the feeling that Britain had been turned upside down and inside out. It acted as a starting point for suffering to begin in the film as from then on nothing was the same. On a number of occasions Peter Watkins shows how nai?? ve our government and religion can be on the nuclear war issues.
The film shows a lot of interviews with random people off the street that do not know much about nuclear warfare this shows that the government has not informed the public about nuclear warfare and its risks, also these people are from all different classes and communities this shows that nuclear warfare effects everyone. Before the nuclear attack you see a young man going door to door giving out small booklets on what to do in the event of a nuclear war, the booklets were available before this but for a price, so millions of families have only just been informed what to do in a nuclear attack.
This still applies nowadays for instance I would never know what to do right now if I was informed that there was thirty seconds before a nuclear bomb exploded near by. Peter Watkins is iconoclastic this means that he does not agree with the government or religion and he makes this clear in the film by constantly criticising what our government and religion would do in the situation. The facts and statistics used in this film also shocked me, they add to the harsh reality of nuclear warfare. These facts and statistics are so precise and accurate that it scares me.
After watching the film all the way through the horrifying fact that most of these events actually happened at Hiroshima or Dresden. Peter Watkins probably spent a lot of time just working out these facts and statistics. The powerful use of children also worked quite well in this film. At the end when children in a orphanage were asked what they wanted to be when they were older most of them replied with “nothing” as they have no role models or heroes left all their dreams had been shattered.
The nuclear explosion has also ruined this young survivors generation for now they will be filled with hatred and remember this explosion when they are older. I think that the younger generation will find it impossible to forgive the older generation who are responsible for the death of millions. The very end of the film is also a very good part as after we find out that we have ruined a generation of children Peter Watkins decides to play the Christmas carol “Silent Night”.
Not only does this indicate that it is Christmas but it also makes you think about the people with no family left, adults and children. Christmas is normally a time for giving, sharing and loving one another, but this Christmas thanks to the nuclear explosion is a time for taking lives and family, having to kill to stay alive and hate for authority. Also at the end of the film there is a huge almost frightening silence whilst showing the end credits, normally in nearly all end credits there is music or at least some sort of sound.
This silence is cleverly put in to show the effect this film has had on people because if you have properly watched and understood this film you should be should be shocked and also in a silent state. This silence gives you a chance to reconcile your thoughts and views. I think that the best place to watch this film would be in an auditorium where you are with other people and you can see shocked, silent reactions to the film.
In conclusion I think that this film should have made a impression on anyone who watched it, this impression being against nuclear warfare. I think that Peter Watkins was successful in getting his message through. Personally I think that I have learnt a lot not only with the facts and statistics but morally. My views on nuclear warfare were against it but after watching this drama-documentary they were definitely even more so against it now that I know a lot more about it and I am now a believer in disarming nuclear weapons around the world.