The War Game (1965)

Posted by Sam Hayes On Tuesday, December 08, 2009
I was reminded of this film while looking through images of diasters and such linking to Gregory Crewdson's work. I watched this rare film a couple of years ago when one of my tutors at college mentioned he had a copy of it. I borrowed it and was stunned. 'The War Game' is a television film based around Nucleur War, however, it hits very close to home (Stupid Pun) as the nucleur war-head lands in Rochester. The missile was aimed for Manston airport, but overshot, and hit our peaceful (ish) town. The story is based in Rochester, showing the evacuation of the devastated area. The film has stayed in my mind as there are some dreadful scenes, leading to it being banned by the BBC themselves until 1985.

The events that I recall are people being blinded as they look towards the explosion, and then crawling around the ground not knowing where they are, looters trying to get food and mobbing supply trucks getting shot by policemen as well as whole buildings swamped in fire being tackled by firemen. The story also contains radiation sickness and the whole of society collapsing.

I was going to order it on DVD, but it is quite expensive, as it seems to be quite rare. I'm going to try and get one, as I think it will really help me with the atmosphere I'm aiming for in my project.

The whole film can be watched on Youtube here:

If you watch Part 1; at 1:20 through it, the policeman is driving through Chatham, passed where the Pentagon centre now is, near the Brook Theatre but it is not there yet. Very strange to see.

6 Responses to 'The War Game (1965)'

  1. Anonymous said...'> 19 October 2010 at 20:49

    I've seen this too. It may be made in 1965, but its never had more truth than now. In addition to the damage shown, our society is too much based on computers, internet etc and road transport plus imported food and goods. This would all stop very quickly.

    At the time, this was dismised as CND propaganda. Ok, so it din't really happen, but I've studied some NBC stuff etc, and it could still easilly happen. I'm NOT Irish, but have never trusted the Paras. I wouldn't have put it past them to massacre a few thousand Civvies if they had too to preserve 'order'. Back in the 70s, when someone I knew was in Germany,they were at a NATO base doing Nat'Service (for another NATO country) and were warned to 'stay away from Brits' particularly around bars, as all some of them wanted to do was pick fights for no reason i.e they were complete nutters, tanked up on cheap booze.

    I'd like to think a lot has changed, but not so sure. The War Game is no Bullshit, but a very good scenario out of several. The Firestorms were true, and happened in Dresden.

    Never blindly trust what the authorities tell you, but read between the lines. I was in Cadets at School. Allways want to see the end of Nukes (in an ideal world) and don't for one minute doubt the sincerety of the war game, but I favour a muli-lateral approach.

    This film should be shown at least every 10 years.


  2. Anonymous said...'> 19 October 2010 at 22:40

    This film(if you have never seen it) is as horrific as Schindlers List - the difference is that it could still happen in any place at any time (could even happen in France, almost ALL their electricity is Nuclear).



  3. Anonymous said...'> 23 October 2010 at 18:46

    With the capability to build smaller nukes, there is even more temptation to use them, and they still carry lethal does of radiation. What's more, back in 1965, we didn't have mobile phones, and all the gadgets we have today, all dependent on micro-control IC chips. These will get zapped easilly, and are used to regulate everything thatyou care to think of, from sewerage pumps under roads and streets, to air conditioing in buildings. At least old valve radios would stiil work after an electro-magnetic pulse (look up EMP and nuclear weapons). Also, not shown in the war game wouldbe packs of strat dogs very soon turning savage roaming the country, their owners eitehr dead or having abandoned them. This would be another major hazard to any survivors.


  4. Anonymous said...'> 25 October 2010 at 22:41

    Sorry to bore you all...Andy here again, I will add some comments as I think of things.

    Its Well worth looking up the Royal Observer Corps website, and subbritannica. This gives lots of info on nuclear bunkers, the siren system, the UKWMO monitoring/warning system etc and Civil Defence. Its very well researched (and most of this info would be secret until recently i.e. 1989), and when you have studied all of this, you will see that anybody who says that the War Game is 'far fetched' either has a hidden political agenda, or is very naive and uneducated about the real world.

    Post War Game, Chernobyl 1986 is another incident worthy of study, although not intended as an act of warfare or terrorism, it is an exercise in studying the effects of fallout- and seems worse than either Hiroshima or Nagasaki in terms of radio-active pollution, despite the abscence of any bomb explosions.



  5. Anonymous said...'> 22 December 2010 at 00:08

    I was born in 1942 and remember very clearly at the age of about 18 talking to a friend about our chances of living to 30, as it seemed certain that there would be a nuclear holocaust within the next few years. I commented "Perhaps when it actually comes to it they won't press the button". He asked me whether I really believed it and when I said that I didn't, he replied "Neither do I". A couple of years later we had the Cuba crisis and he was very nearly proved right - only in the last few years has it emerged that there was a Russian regiment equpped with battlefield nuclear weapons on the island. Their commander has since stated that he would have used them if the USA had invaded, which is what Kennedy was being urged to do by his military. The responses would have escalated and then The War Game would have become reality. I've felt much safer since the end of the Cold War, but of course there's no room for complacency, and I agree that in some ways we're more vulnerable now because of the increased complexity and high interdependence of modern society. Unfortunately I suspect that nuclear weapons will not be completely done away with by mankind until there is some form of relatively limited nuclear exchange, such as that which was feared between India and Pakistan a while ago. Incidentally, because it was banned I've never seen The War Game, and I never sought it out via the CND screenings. I think this was because I grew up in the aftermath of WWII and was only too aware of what war would be like. My father was in the British Army and I was taken to Germany (Kiel)within months of the end of the war. I remember the ruins very well. In addition to that one heard a great deal from the older generation about their experiences. While there are still nuclear weapons The War Game will always be relevant.


  6. Anonymous said...'> 22 December 2010 at 14:10

    A brief addendum to my comments about living with the fear of nuclear war: One evening in the 60's the satirical t.v. programme That Was The Week That Was ('TW3')signed off with the announcement that the Government had stockpiled a million cardboard coffins. A cheerful note on which to go to bed. Some years later the actor Michael Gough (who played Batman's valet) revealed in a newspaper interview that he had been employed to make the recorded announcements which would be broadcast in the event of a nuclear attack. He said that he spent several sleepless nights aferwards.


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I'm a student studying CG Arts and Animation at the University for the Creative Arts, I'm living in Kent.

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