Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|War Game Culloden |
Actors: Olivier Espitalier-Noel, George McBean, Robert Oates, Peter Watkins, Michael Aspel
Director: Peter Watkins
Genres: Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Television, Educational, Military & War
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What Independent Cinema is Supposed to Be
John Capute | Atlanta, GA USA | 07/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Why it has taken all this time for these two films to make it to the US in DVD form is a story that I hope comes out. Peter Watkins is finally being ackowledged in the US for his radical, truly independent vision, what with the release in the last two years of Punishment Park and The Gladiators. But it is here, in his first two feature films, that he is arguably at his best. The War Game is a horrifying recreation, done in documentary style, of what the effects of nuclear war would be. It may not have the impact it had when it was first released in 1964 as the US and the Soviet Union had their fingers on the button that would have assured, as the film so disturbingly shows (so disturbingly that the BBC, who commissioned the film, refused to show it and it was effectively banned in England for years after), mutual destruction. Nonetheless, the threat of nuclear warfare has not totally disappeared from the radar screen, so the film still carries relevance. Culloden, which predates The War Game, is perhaps the more contemporary and frightening film. Here, Watkins introduces for the first time in a feature length piece his "you-are-there" technique, as participants in the Scottish uprising against Britain in the mid-eighteenth century are interviewed as though news and camera men existed at this time. Both films reek with realism, as they are acted by non-professionals; and in the case of Culloden, the grime and sweat of eighteenth century life and the ferocity and brutality of combat at this time comes across as though, indeed, cameras were available at this time. Watkins is clearly aghast at what people can do to each other, and Culloden, culminating with the massacre of the Scottish clans by the better armed and more ruthless British military, clearly, as Watkins himself as said, is another way of looking at what was occuring and would continue to occur in Vietnam. Today, with another war, the film retains its power and relevancy. These are not easy films to watch: they are no doubt one sided and pedantic: yet they speak to a time when filmmakers were willing to alienate and confound in order to make what they felt was a difference: a time when the idea of popular film instigating change, naive as it may be, felt possible."
A pair of lost masterpieces
Jonathan Lapin | Brooklyn, NY USA | 12/05/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"a double bill of films made for bbc-tv, i had seen both of these some thirty years back and never got over them. the earlier of them, "culloden" is a recreation of the events leading up to and following the 1746 battle that spelled the final end of scotlands days as a seperate country from england. adapted from the classic book by john prebble (incidentally, the rabbits favorite book), the film is a brilliant reflection on the conflicts among the idiotic bonnie prince charlie and his advisors, the ruthless english army, and the average scottish soldieer caught in the crossfire. filmed on a minimal budget (they had ONE cannon!), the battle scenes are so creative that you will believe youre part of it. this was the old walter cronkite "you are there" concept taken to the heights of art. now as to "the war game" -- well, once watkins had a major surprise hit on his hands with "culloden", he got to make "war games". akin to the similar path of patrick mcgoohan a few years later, who followed up the overwhelming success of "secret agent" with the artistically brilliant but controversial "the prisoner", watkins shot his wad with "WG", and never recovered. this fantasy about an english town in the days leading up to and following a nuclear attack is far more frightening than any of the myriad of other films which have used the same conceit. its matter-of-factness and use of ordinary people in lieu of actors works in watkins's hands in a manner that would have been artsy in the hands of another director. the finished product proved so controversial that the bbc declined to air it, and the movie was ultimately released in theaters, where ironically it won an oscar as best documentary. as i said previously, i saw both films on television in the 70s -- back when pbs still carried out its mandate to air quality television, rather than wayne dyer infomercials or doo-wop retrospectives. i cant more heartily recommend a dvd to watch than this.
The first and the best
Pablo Martin Podhorzer | Buenos Aires, Argentina | 09/17/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Watch this and after ask yourself how two films made in 1964 and 1965 are many times more powerful than most of the drivel you saw during this decade. The western world was during forty years scared to death with the idea of nuclear war but accepted it as a possibility. After "The War Game" and "Culloden", you will doubt also the reasons for the current war "on terror"."
War Game / Culloden 40+ years on
A. J. Papprill | Manukau, New Zealand | 05/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first saw these "documentaries" 40+ years ago and was impressed by their power and the logic of their messages. Seeing the programmes now is to lament the demise of powerful, committed and issue dominated documentary film making appearing on our TV screens. The War Game & Culloden haven't lost their ability to shock and stimulate debate.
Culloden, with its Vietnam war sub-text, carries, now, a message about decisions to declare war in Iraq while the War Game reminds us that policies of MAD & WMD are based on faulty logic.
This DVD is worth many viewings."