War Weary

I spent last Sunday afternoon cringing on the couch, in an orgy of Netflix warflix.

paired an imaginary war of the future with a real war of the past, both of them to horrific effect.

The War Game, which won the Oscar for Best Documentary Film for 1966, minces no images of the probable aftereffects of a nuclear attack on Great Britain. The director, Peter Watkins, assembled a cast of ordinary townspeople from southeast England (much of it was shot in and around Dover) who gave convincing portrayals of the confusion, fear, suffering, and social breakdown that would be the likely consequences of such an attack. The film was considered "too horrifying" for British TV, and was not shown there until 1985.

Watkins had pioneered this technique a year earlier, shooting Culloden, the defeat of the Pretender, Charles Stuart of Scotland, by the army of the English King George II, as if TV cameras had been on the scene at the time. The actors were Londoners or lowland Scots (English army) and the townsfolk of Inverness (Highlanders). There were no heroes here, no gallantry. There was confusion and stupidity, ruthlessness and fear. Men and boys cut down by grapeshot and rifle fire, skewered over and over again by bayonets. Legs twitched from beneath piles of the dead as the victors looted the bodies and cut the throats of any left alive.

It was strong stuff. I chased it with , the Academy Award Best Picture winner for 1942. Netflix had hiccuped slightly in sending the documentary - it was only a day late - and had sent along the next one in the Q to make up for it. Mrs. Miniver is the poster child for "Keep Calm and Carry On," but I loved the movie when I first saw it and I still do. Although I fear that even Mrs. Miniver would have lost her cool in The War Game.