Friday, August 27, 2010

The War Game

48m, B/W, 1965, Peter Watkins (UK)

The film is an enacted documentary about a nuclear attack on a suburban town in the United Kingdom. The film is thoroughly researched and attempts to be realistic rather than alarmist. Nevertheless it was banned from exhibition on TV, for which it was originally intended, because of the panic it was likely to cause. The population is found ill prepared--indeed, there can be little by way of preparation for a nuclear bomb attack. The hellish suffering unfolds in the aftermath, as lack of supplies and medical aid make the situation near hopeless.

The truth is that we have been so inured by the deluge of horrifying images that it is difficult to summon proportionate response from within. One is left staring uncomprehendingly at the vista of mutilation, burns and bodies piled on each other. This failure of feeling is perhaps the devastating heritage of our time. Whether it is the holocaust, or the partition of the subcontinent, or the events in Nanking, or the escalating depictions on-screen, we watch more in fascination than dismay. Most devastated are our hearts, in this deadening of response.

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