Archive for January 15th, 2013


by Allan Fish

(UK 1965 49m) DVD1/2

Your protection against nuclear attack

d/w  Peter Watkins  ph  Peter Bartlett

narrated by  Michael Aspel, Dick Graham

A film that became a by-word for the BBC’s wranglings with those in the corridors of power, The War Game was green-lighted solely due to the critical success of Watkins’ revolutionary – in more ways than one – film Culloden, made the previous year.  It hypothesises and goes into considerable detail, what would happen in the case of a thermonuclear attack from the Soviet Union.  Philip Purser wrote that it was shelved because BBC director-general Sir Hugh Greene (brother of Graham) thought that “it might seriously harm the old, the simple or the out of touch who lit upon it without prior warning.”  It makes one think he feared a television equivalent of the infamous Orson Welles The War of the Worlds radio broadcast of 1938 which so went down in infamy.  In truth, however, it’s open to question how much of the decision was down to Greene’s own judgement.  He himself was one of the more lenient director-generals the BBC had, and upon his retirement, was replaced by some severely right-wing censorial types who were to set the Corporation back many years.  The decision was probably reached as high up as the government, many prominent members of who, along with several prominent critics from all aspects of the arts media, were allowed to see the film behind closed doors.  The fact was that the BBC would not be allowed by the Home Office or the Ministry of Defence to put out a film which went against the wonderfully acronymed Mutually Assured Destruction policy employed against the Communist foe.  (more…)

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