MovieChat Forums > The War Game (1966) Discussion > Pssst. It didn't happen, which makes th...

Pssst. It didn't happen, which makes the whole thing silly


28 years or so ago a whole lot of people actually believed this nonsense and used it to try to scare Britain into unilateral disarmament.

Well folks, you'll be delighted to know that the Cold War is over, the bad guys lost, and the threat of nuclear war with the Muscovites is now markedly diminished. Why? Because the people that mattered were not intimidated by the scare tactics of the 80s disarmanent movement which led to this film, and the Soviet Empire collapsed trying to keep up with the West.

This film is a wonderful study in failed propaganda. Try to remind yourselves that nothing predicted and dramatized by the film actually happened. It's a little disturbing watching people call this nonsensical scare scenario "visionary" and "prophetic". It's like watching a movie about the elephants holding the world up going on a stampede -- interesting, but not to be taken seriously. Or watching a movie about the religious nut who gathered his people in the mountains of California because he thought California was going to slide into the Pacific a couple decades ago. After a month or so of waiting, they figured out it wasn't going to happen and left. Try and see it from that perspective.

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I don't think this film is silly nonsense.
during the Cold war it cam frighteningly close to happening.

It still could happen tomorrow very easily if the US bombs Iran nuclear or otherwise.

Kiwiboy62

"Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent."
-george w. bush

Yeah Right!!

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[deleted]

See, propaganda that works. The "answer" according to those who are so impressed by this movie is disarmament. But that causes wars, because the other side perceives this as weakness.

What keeps the world safe from nuclear war is not disarming but making sure that anyone who tries to start one knows they will whacked worse than they can deliver. That, and the growing sophistication of the US anti-missile defenses.

None of that is dealt with in this very dated and very silly propaganda movie. In fact the message is the opposite. Fortunately, nobody of any consequence listened to the "peace movement" at the time, or disarmed their countries, or the holocaust depicted might have come true.

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What keeps the world safe from nuclear war is not disarming but making sure that anyone who tries to start one knows they will whacked worse than they can deliver. That, and the growing sophistication of the US anti-missile defenses

If nuclear deterrence doesn't work some day down the road, and there actually is a nuclear war, the survivors will hunt down the people who think like you (assuming you are still alive) and string you up like Mussolini. It's easy to talk tough a priori, I doubt too many people would be too impressed with the deterrence argument once a city (or cities) lie in ruin.

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"the scare tactics of the 80s disarmanent movement which led to this film"?!?

Uhh, this was shot in '65, mind you.

"Try to remind yourselves that nothing predicted and dramatized by the film actually happened."

Does the name Hiroshima ring a bell?

"the bad guys lost"

Bad Guys? Like the ones starting two proxy wars (namely Korea and Vietnam) resulting in the loss of millions of lives? Like the ones who granted amnesty to Japanese and German war criminals in trade for the results of the experiments they conducted on concentration camp prisoners?

"Well folks, you'll be delighted to know that the Cold War is over"

And I'm pretty sure you're delighted to know that there is quite possibly a nuclear bomb aimed right at your sorry ass this very minute. But hey, no worries!

"It's a little disturbing watching people call this nonsensical scare scenario "visionary" and "prophetic"."

Obviously, you know as little about filmmaking as you know about history and global politics (and that's saying something!).

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Whew! I'm glad to hear that! We didn't have a nuclear war during the Cold War, and therefore, nuclear weapons aren't dangerous and no one will ever use them. Most importantly, we should stop thinking about the implications of nuclear weapons use in the near future, especially with benign nation-states like North Korea, Iran, and Syria possibly acquiring them in the next few years. Of course, there might be a military coup in Pakistan that results in a nuclear war with India, and 50 million people might get killed - but they'd all be brown people anyway, so why care?

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I accept your first point and correct to "led to the promotion of this film".

Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended a war, they didn't start a war. Shouldn't we all want to see wars ended? So H & N were good things.

I guess if you consider the gulags and enslavement of millions, the loss of virtually all liberty, and forced subjugation to the centralized state to be a good thing you could say the "good guys" lost. I feel differently. Apparently most persons in the Soviet Union did as well, since the government there was unpopular and dissolved with little mourning.

Of course there are nuclear weapons aimed at "my ass". There have been for decades. Fortunately we haven't been stupid enough to pursue disarmament so that that someone would be tempted into actually firing one at me. And fortunately we are working on a system to block incoming missiles to lower the threat in the future, although we still have a ways to go.

I am not a film maker, but I recognize propaganda when I see it. I'd rather be in that position and miss some cinematographical nuance than end up being a shill for an obvious propaganda movie while considering myself some kind of expert on history and global politics. So no, I wouldn't want to change roles with you.

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"Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended a war, they didn't start a war. Shouldn't we all want to see wars ended? So H & N were good things."

A rather insensitive turn of phrase there, my friend. I suppose "H & N" were good things, as long as you weren't unfortunate enough to live in one of those cities at the time. Oh well, they were only Jap civilians, right? It's not like they were American, or anything important like, say, human beings, right? We're only supposed to get emotional when it's our civilians dying, like on 9/11, but when we inflict the same devastation on foreign women and children, that's a "good thing". And then we wonder why they all hate us for our hypocrisy. Jeez.

I'm not arguing with your assertion that from a coldly clinical and somewhat inhuman standpoint, the bombings hastened the end of the war, possibly averting hundreds of thousands of deaths. Perhaps it was the right decision to use the bomb (although I would have preferred it had Truman hit a relatively unpopulated Japanese area first as a warning). But I do take issue with your description of the bombings as a "good thing".

My great uncle was one of the first military intelligence officers to set foot in Hiroshima after the bomb fell. He never recovered from the psychological trauma of what he experienced there, and had recurring nightmares for the next forty years. If he were still alive, god rest his soul, I'd love to see his reaction to anybody who describes an atomic bombing as a "good thing".

As for the missile defense system, that is merely a multi-billion dollar boondoggle for defense contractors. If thousands of ICBMs suddenly start heading our way, do you seriously think we could do much to stop them all? Even if we could, we would probably turn the atmosphere into a radioactive slagheap.

The danger of nuclear war is as present now as it was during the Cold War; most likely due to an accident or misunderstanding than an international crisis. Nobody wants to be the first to initiate such a conflict, but with thousands of weapons still on hairtrigger alert, the danger is as present now as it ever was. At least in the Cold War, movies such as this kept the danger at the forefront of peoples' minds. Today, our biggest danger is complacency. I'm not advocating for disarmament, but we need to be vigilant about the controls that are placed on the use and deployment of these hideous weapons to make sure they are never used, inadvertently or not.

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Not much of a deterrent if we imagine that they would never be used. What would be the point in even having them; we might as well defend ourselves with pixie dust.

I would certainly agree that we ought to take all necessary measures to insure that they are never used accidently or through some kind of software glitch. That would be awful.

As far as as an anti-ABM system it will eventually become far more reliable and blessedly technologically advanced so that other nations will not be able to thwart it easily. Certainly a barrage of 'thousands' of missiles would saturate the system but most countries don't have such a number. And fortunately both that do are too civilized to use them haphazardly.

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"Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended a war, they didn´t start a war".

A good number of further nuclear explosions and all wars on this particular planet would indeed be ended for quite some while. So lo and behold, our intellectually rigorous OP is right yet again; how does he do it?

"An obvious propaganda movie".

How awful - "propaganda" that dares present weapons of mass destruction as the ultimate evil created by man and lay bare its effects in devastating nuance. What disgusting manipulation.



"facts are stupid things" - Ronald Reagan

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Talk about missing the point. Geez.

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There is a lot of emotion about this topic: Atomic/Nuclear war.

And that's as it should be. Because unlike any other weapon, nuclear weapons have lingering effects that are unparalleled in our history.

As long as there are nuclear weapons, this COULD happen. Granted the dates would be different from the film. 1980 came and went. The names would change, but it COULD happen. Will it? Who knows? No one certainly wants it to happen. Nuclear war or a nuclear accident would be a horrific situation that would most likely be far worse than any film could portray.

But there are some points that get misplaced in all the emotion, if they were ever even taught in the first place:

1. The U.S. used atomic weapons on two Japanese civilian cities: Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Not exactly correct. Neither city was strictly 'civilian'. Both were industrial, armament, military producing centers.

Japan was a cottage industry culture. Businesses that you or I might think of as 'war industry' Ford, GM, Boeing, etc, were unheard of in Japan. Small shops built everything. Well, most everything. Some large conglomerates, family Samurai holdovers, "Zaibatsu", they were called, did exist.
Mitsubishi, yes, the same one, was/is one of them. They made many of their aircraft in Hiroshima.
Nagasaki was used as a center for other industrial construction items by other Zaibatsu.
Basically, munitions.

2. There were tens of thousands of POWs in Hiroshima. Many of them Korean slaves used as labor in these factories. None are mentioned in the casualty numbers for that city, nor on any plaque in Hiroshima Peace Park. The city won't permit it. Those killed are unmentionables. Like the 'comfort women', they don't exist, even in death according to the Japanese government until recently.

3. The use of the then-new atomic bomb on a city, was an absolute last resort for the Americans.
To have to use it on two cities was beyond last resort. However, it became an option after the Battle of Okinawa demonstrated that the Japanese would not only fail to surrender, but would execute civilians as well, as they did with impunity on Okinawa. (to this day, the only military the Okinawans despise more than the U.S. military is the Japanese military, and that's after several rape incidents involving American military on local Okinawan girls. Okinawans still despise the Japanese military more. That should tell you something.)

The Battle of Okinawa demonstrated in stark relief what Guadal Canal and Iwo Jima earlier had hinted at. That it would take Operation Olympic, a total land invasion by Allied troops, planned and readied by hundreds of thousands to millions of new troops in staging areas across the Pacific, to stop the Asian nation. The total deaths at the Battle of Okinawa have never been fully studied. But estimates already show that more died there than in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined.

4. It is a sad and strange truth that the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (after Japan refused to surrender more than a week after Hiroshima), actually, in the end, SAVED JAPANESE LIVES. For if Operation Olympic was to proceed, millions and millions of Japanese would have died, along with millions of Allied soldiers all in the name of getting the Emperor to surrender.

No. 4 is a hard pill to swallow. Because of the images of nuclear war, and the effects of it, we tend to regard it as the complete and utter end of the world.

But it did not end the world. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed, leveled, incinerated. But in previous wars, whole populations were decimated, entire nations were removed from existence. But there were no cameras to record such horrors, no witnesses to give any heart wrenching accounts. Because nothing lived.

I have met with and spoken to the last sole survivor of the Army Motion Picture Unit which went in days after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings to record and film what was left. Any footage you have seen, is the footage that group took.

Those cities were sacrificed, perhaps, you can look at it that way, to save the world from further nuclear death. It is their example which can remind us, in this age of media, what horrors are possible in our time if we allow them. Don't you think it's possible, that we might have had another Holocaust if we had no pictures or film of Auschwitz, Treblinka, Buchenwald to shock us, to remind us, what we as humans are capable of?

Let them be reminders, not propaganda, but reminders of the horror of war. Any war.

But don't forget that there are equally horrible deaths and destruction, though you haven't been able to see them, because there were no film cameras used, or no film made available to the public.

The image is a remarkable thing. None of us would be commenting here if images didn't move us, didn't sway us. IMDB exists because images move us. This we all know. But we must remind ourselves that there are many horrors, different, but perhaps equally horrible to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but which we have no image to relate to, to recoil from, to get sick looking upon.

If you have seen someone's head explode from pressure as they are talking to you, or an armless woman stumbling down the street with her forced-birth child dangling behind her, still attached by its imbilical and dragging on the road screaming, or a naked man, standing in the sub zero temperatures, having water poured on his arm, freezing it like stone, then having it smashed off like glass with a hammer, or children hung on poles and flayed, their skin peeled of them as they try to scream but can't because their vocal chords were removed, then you have seen war BEFORE the nuclear age, you have seen the Japanese in China.

War is horrible. All forms of it. Whether it is nuclear or non nuclear. It is horrible. Human beings can be the most horrible creatures on the planet. We have proven this time and again.

If you ask an older Chinese, Indonesian, SE Asian about whether or not the A bomb was necessary to stop the Japanese, you will get a very different answer than the one usually given by modern Western college students. Very different, indeed.

I've taken many people on tours through Hiroshima, to Okinawa. I do this with a survivor of Hiroshima, an old Japanese gentleman, who was a small boy then, and who has seen things, horrors, none of us could dream up in our wildest imagination. Many of the people who come to visit the Hiroshima Peace Park and other places like it, are Japanese and many are Westerners. They all arrive thinking one way. Much like the way I've seen on this board and other places. They all leave knowing another.

In the film, do you recall the street interviews? Were they informed? Hardly. We are the same as they were. We think we are not, we think we have tons of data because of the internet, because of this or that, we read this book or that book, we think we have reams of inside information. But we don't. We are the same as they who were depicted in The War Game.

The worst thing is to continue to blame people, including our leaders, who are just like us, trying to prevent war the best way they can with the information they have.

The best thing is to educate yourself and to not stop and always remain open in your thinking, and to do what you can to help others. Blaming achieves nothing, and most likely WILL lead to further aggression, sooner or later, either by you or your offspring.

And to remember, whatever information you think you have, there's always another side, another aspect you have no concept of yet. Keep that option open. You'll need it, if you are to remain a rational human being. And that's exactly what we need right now, and always.

Good luck.

Peace, everyone.


-hs

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Very moving and informed post humbleservant

My primary concern on these issues is the often well intentioned belief that disarmament will reduce the risk of war. In fact it can send a signal of weakness which encourages aggression by the other side, leading to the very war that some sought to prevent.

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Humbleradio - I know that internet bulletin boards aren't usually places where folks tend to agree with or compliment each other, but I'll make an exception here and say that your post was one of the most eloquent and thought provoking messages I've read on any board. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

I agree with you that, long term radiation effects aside, the human carnage inflicted by the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was probably not much worse than that experienced by the residents of Dresden or Tokyo, or even those who lived in parts of London during the Blitz. But I think what a lot of people tend to forget is that the bombs dropped on Japan were miniscule by today's standards (14 and 20 kilotons, IIRC). Those weapons had approximately the same yield as a tactical device would today. The point of movies such as The War Game is to impress upon the viewer the finality of a global thermonuclear war. There would be no Marshall Plan, no outside assistance, very little organized government. The world would be a poisoned wasteland with the scattered remnants of humanity left to fend for themselves under a radioactive sky. In other words, it would be something for which we have absolutely no frame of reference.

In a free society, it is the duty of the people to hold their leaders accountable and to ensure they remain vigilant. We can only do that if we are suitably informed about the threats that exist, and that is why movies such as this are so important. If we can all agree on the importance of preventing a nuclear war (which isn't as easy a consensus as it might sound), then we can debate the correct approach; disarmament or mutual assured destruction.

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That's a very good point, that today's nuclear arsenal dwarfs the initial three detonations (including Trinity) as a Howitzer would a spitball.

I think most people agree that total disarmament would be an ideal situation, but only if it were unilateral and guaranteed. Neither of those two conditions can be met with a degree of certainty needed for the stakes at hand.

So, where does it leave us?

Stuck in M.A.D. status until a clever person develops something that can disable nuclear warheads remotely.

And as for an informed public, with the current quality output of American education I don't see any hope on the near horizon for an informed public existing. Rather, I see the opposite.

When one considers that the United States, formerly a global leader in science, mathematics, and innovation, and the holder of more Nobel Prizes than any other nation, now pitifully ranks last or second to last in international testing among industrialized nations, in those key areas, the idea of an informed public, informed about things such as we are discussing here - without letting emotion and sentiment obscure reason and understanding - seems out of reach, indeed.

The more young people I talk to, and I'm not old myself, actually, ;) the more depressed I become. I used to think that Jay Leno was fabricating his Jay Walking segments. I don't think that anymore.

I totally agree that it is the duty of a free society to hold its leaders accountable. That should also hold true toward its press, of which there are no elections, no accountability and tremendous power. The power to influence, sway, and elect.

Until we shore up our science and mathematics education for our children and hold our media to better quality standards, no amount of discussion is going to make a difference. Because it will be like that old proverb of two fools arguing until they die of old age, since they had neither the wisdom to stop nor the knowledge to win.

Oh, and thanks for the compliments. Much appreciated.

-hs

One more transfusion, and I'll be a full-blooded Irishman.
-Peter Cushing in Island of Terror

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[deleted]

Well, I can only hope that the leaders of nations possessing nuclear weapons have a lot less anger and much better control over their tempers than what you have displayed here.

With that I wish you good luck in your quest for happiness.

-hs

One more transfusion, and I'll be a full-blooded Irishman.
-Peter Cushing in Island of Terror

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[deleted]

Overall I agree with your main thrust, but.......

1. The U.S. used atomic weapons on two Japanese civilian cities: Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Not exactly correct. Neither city was strictly 'civilian'. Both were industrial, armament, military producing centers.


This might be true, but it is also true that the US targeted any and all cities in Japan. They didn't care if it was civilian or not. It is hard to come up with any city in Japan during WWII that wasn't firebombed by the US.

4. It is a sad and strange truth that the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (after Japan refused to surrender more than a week after Hiroshima), actually, in the end, SAVED JAPANESE LIVES. For if Operation Olympic was to proceed, millions and millions of Japanese would have died, along with millions of Allied soldiers all in the name of getting the Emperor to surrender.


With such a ridiculous either/or argument you could justify a lot of things. Yes in their minds nuking 2 cities was better than an idiotic plan, but those weren't the only options. The Emperor had almost no control over his army at that point and very little food for his troops. I'm not going say I know the answer that would've resolved the situation, but surely we should recognize that there weren't only 2 ridiculously godawful options on the table. Robert S. McNamara one of the top men for the US in the Asian theater basically admits they were war criminals. Your view here isn't the minority, most people (I would say wrongly) believe that the nukes were the right thing to do.

The worst thing is to continue to blame people, including our leaders, who are just like us, trying to prevent war the best way they can with the information they have.


It is also important to not be naive. Sure not every leader is a blood lusting crazy person, but that last statement isn't true all the time.

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By your "logic", rlange-3, almost EVERY film/TV show ever shot on camera, every book ever written (comic books are included here), every song ever played/sung, every picture painted, and every radio show ever broadcast are nonsenses because the events depicted didn't and haven't happened for real.

You may as well just go live in a cave with no TV, no books, no music, no pictures, and no radio. QUICK MARCH!

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I haven't seen many people come out of Star Wars and claim the movie was "prophetic", or a "realistic vision of the future". What disturbs me about this movie is that most people don't seem to place it in its historical context and realize that it's underlying message is the propaganda of disarmament. Weakness does not lead to peace.

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True enough. The Quakers are evidence of the validity of that statement. So are any organisms in nature, from bacteria to orangutans. The defenseless perish. Period. (Except those in captivity ;)

But of course, as human beings, we have evolved to a stage where ruthlessness and barbarity, we think, are no longer useful. No longer needed, and no longer effective. Wrong again.

Look at the financial crisis, that's the exact same thing as seen in nature, predators and prey. Only with numbers instead of berries, or watering holes, or tree branches or whathaveyou.

No, we haven't evolved quite as far as we think. No, not quite. Predatory instincts are alive and well. And as long as they are, well ... since we're on IMBD after all, let me borrow a scene from Ben Hur where the character Ilderim politely disagrees with Balthasar's plea for absolute pacifism. He voices it to Judah Ben Hur, who is to fight his nemesis in the arena of the Chariots. This scene says it better than I can:

Ilderim:
"Balthasar is a good man. But until all men are like him, we must keep our swords bright! "


Judah Ben-Hur:
"And our intentions true! So I must leave you. "


Ilderim:
"One last thought... there is no law in the arena. Many are killed. I hope to see you again, Judah Ben-Hur."


-hs

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I'm not sure that using Hiroshima and Nagasaki as the last word in any discussion re nuclear war is very well advised. The devices dropped on these two cities were atom bombs, which should be very clearly differentiated from the hydrogen bomb that succeeded them. Here in the UK, the dissolution of the Civil Defence Corps in 1968 is evidence of the fact that the mere notion of civil defence was rendered nonsensical, and obsolete, in the face of the destructive capability of the newer weapon.

Furthermore, the A-Bomb was dropped shortly after its conception: most major powers since have developed full nuclear capability, and the means and provisions to wage war on this scale. This is very different to the use of a fledgling weapon, without precedent, in a world where no one else had the means to compete.

I must also take issue with the tenor of your suggestion, re the importance of the image in governing reactions to the face of conflict. Contrary to your stated point, there are very few images of Treblinka, and virtually none which show the nature of the atrocities that occurred there; similarly, there are very, very few images from Sobibor, Belsec or Chelmno (the four designated "death camps"). In spite of this, they still maintain the power to shock and appall in equal measure

With reference to the original post: I'm not entirely sure what your point is. Are you suggesting that the value or worth of any work of this nature is negated by the manner in which history unfolds. The fact is -- and it is a fact -- that nuclear war could've happened, and it could've happened in the manner detailed in the film. There's an implcit emotiveness in that, but it doesn't alter the facts. I'd suggest reading War Plan UK as further elucidation of this.

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Weakness in a standoff encourages aggression. Thus a war can be precipitated by the very people pushing unilateral disarmament.

Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) may be repugnant, but it serves as a powerful incentive not to attack. The fact that nuclear arsenals have been beefed up considerably since H&N simply makes that assured destruction more certain, hence providing an ironclad rationale not to start a nuclear war. Or even a major war with a country with a well developed nuclear arsenal.

The disarmament crowd using this movie as a propaganda tool are a destabilizing force because they call into question the certainty of retaliation, substituting a naive vision of everyone gathering around the campfire to sing songs. Nice thought but it won't work, and actually endangers us if taken seriously.

That is what I am suggesting, and why I consider it to be a work of propaganda that some people take far too seriously. The fact is that we didn't disarm, and and we didn't have a nuclear war. So how do people get all goo goo eyed over a movie that implies that without disarmament a war is inevitable? And claiming it is "prophetic" is just silly by virtue of the plain meaning of the word "prophetic".

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I can see your point of view, but I don't entirely agree. You're certainly correct about M.A.D. being a powerful incentive not to attack. I also agree that total nuclear disarmament is naive and would be a bad idea, you can't uninvent something, but at the same time I do believe reducing the number of weapons is a good thing.

What I don't understand is why you have a problem with this film, you seem to be attacking the "the disarmament crowd" as you call them, more than the film itself. As to it being a propoganda film, it depends on your point of view and is irrelevent anyway. What makes this film so important is that it was the first film to make the general public aware of the sheer stupidity of the British governments own propoganda concerning the survivability of a nuclear war. What I like about The War Game is that it clearly, concisely and without emotion or moralising, says "this is nuclear war and these are the effects of a nuclear war". It also helps to remember the era when this was made, China tested it's first nuclear device only the year before, the Cuban missile crisis was only 3 years before this film, atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons had not long ceased and the Vietnam war was gathering momentum. These were very uncertain times and I think the main aim of "The War Game" was to educate people to the dangers they faced, something that their own government was unwilling to do.

Lastly, I also disagree with the wording of the thread. "It did happen" should really be "It has happened yet" because while nuclear weapons exist there is a chance, however small, that they could be used. I completely agree that total disarmament is naive, but disagree with your view about "the War Game". What all these films in this genre do, and what "the War game" & "Threads" do particularly well, is to remind people of the dangers of nuclear weapons and why they can never be used, and that can only be a good thing.

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You said: "What all these films in this genre do, and what "the War game" & "Threads" do particularly well, is to remind people of the dangers of nuclear weapons and why they can never be used, and that can only be a good thing."

A decent point. You appear to be more thoughtful than some of the folks gushing over this movie as being 'prophetic' which clearly it is not. But as a reminder that nuclear war would be horrible, I agree it does have that going for it.

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Thanks, but if I do appear to be thoughtful then that is purely due to the effect this film had on me. I was 10yrs old when I first saw The War Game in 1985. It was shown as part of the "After the Bomb" series of films shown by the BBC to mark the 40th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I remember watching The War Game and then watching Threads immediately afterwards and they absolutely terrified me. It wasn't the films themselves that terrified me, though they were truly horrific, it was the fact they both depicted a scenario that was a very real possibility, even as recently as 1985. I'm sure if I was 10yrs old today and watching The War Game & Threads for the first time that they would not have quite the same effect on me, simply because the threat of a global nuclear war is not as great as it was back then.

On a different note, I have just read with interest your review of The War Game and would like to take some time just to raise a few points I disagree with.


a horrible vision of what no doubt would have been a horrible situation -- were it to have occurred. Of course it didn't occur which puts it on the plane of the "meteor destroys the Earth" plane of science fiction film except that it takes itself very seriously.


Yes it was a horrible vision but I can't agree that the fact it didn't occur makes it science fiction. What The War Game attempted to do was to show what the effects of a nuclear attack would be, I don't think its main aim was to predict the future as such but more to educate people on its effects. Also, at the time it was made in the mid 60's nuclear war seemed, if not inevetible, then certainly very possible, and I would expect a film dealing with this subject to take itself very seriously indeed.


There are no answers in the movie, just an underlying attempt to ridicule any means of response. Since the holocaust was supposed to have occurred in 1980 in the movie, it is already demonstrated to be completely off base in its assumptions



Again, I don't think that it tried to answer any questions or to ridicule any response as that wasn't its purpose. It seems to me that what it tried to do was to provide cold hard facts to the British people that the British government was unwilling to give. The fact that the events depicted didn't occur and that the timeline was wrong is irrelevent, they were merely used as a backdrop to demonstrate the facts of what a nuclear war would actually mean.


One supposes, based on its BBC source, that it might also be well categorized as a propaganda movie designed to demoralize Britain into disarmament.



On this point rather than just disagreeing with you I will respectfully say you are wrong. I can perfectly understand why you would make the assumption that, because it was commissioned by BBC, then there must be element of propaganda. The BBC is notorious for its bias on certain issues, we need look no further than their almost religious views on man-made global warming to prove that! It wouldn't surprise me one bit if, when they comissioned The War Game, that they thought they were getting a nice little propoganda film promoting disarmament. Yet when it was released the BBC subsequently banned it for 20 years, as did the British government, and both gave contradicting reasons as to why. Knowing what the BBC are like it would seem to me very unlikely that they would ban it considering the zeal with which they push certain viewpoints. If The War Game was truly a propoganda film by the BBC designed to somehow persuade the British people that disarmament was the best option they would've never shut up about it! When I saw it in 1985 that was the first time it had be broadcast since the 60's. Even after that it was still very rare. I have a DVD of it I picked up about 10yrs ago and I read somewhere that my particular edition is actually worth a bit as it was released in limited numbers and subsequently disappeared again. I assume, as I haven't actually bothered checking, that it's more widely available now. There are many great films but hardly any important films (and by "important", I mean films that transcend the entertainment world and actually make a difference in the real world), yet it was taken seriously enough by both the BBC and the Government that they surpressed it for years.


Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed, the West went on to win the Cold War under the leadership of President Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, and the sentiments of the movie were left to stew in its pile of bankrupt nihilism having ultimately failed in its purpose



If it were a propaganda film then it would've been a failiure, but if you accept that it's not a propoganda film and actually an educational film then it was very successful. Considering the way the Government and the BBC reacted to The War Game and subsequently banned it for so long it could even be argued that it was too successful in its purpose.


the BBC hasn't changed much in its far left orientation and outlook.


Agreed!!



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I guess we will agree to disagree on some things, and agree on a few. I don't want you to think I didn't read and appreciate the thought and time you put into your last response. I repect your reasoning and disagreement with mine and wish you the best.

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Well said, gentlemen. Well said.

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No images from the Holocaust? You're joking, right?

If not, where have you been? How many more images do you need to see? Good grief, man, there are thousands of photographs, hundreds of thousands of feet of 16mm film from both liberating forces and original German sources. If you haven't seen any images or any footage coming out of that horror, I'm glad to hear it. I envy you.

-hs

One more transfusion, and I'll be a full-blooded Irishman.
-Peter Cushing in Island of Terror

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No images from the Holocaust? You're joking, right?

If not, where have you been? How many more images do you need to see? Good grief, man, there are thousands of photographs, hundreds of thousands of feet of 16mm film from both liberating forces and original German sources. If you haven't seen any images or any footage coming out of that horror, I'm glad to hear it. I envy you.

PS: I make it a point not take recommendations on reading this or that seriously from people whom I have no contact with or insufficient respect for. Besides, it is often the trademark 'tell' of someone who is insecure in their own beliefs and concepts to make reading recommendations to others always with the assumption they haven't read it. Very didactic and very obvious.

You'll have to try it on someone else.

Peace.

-hs

One more transfusion, and I'll be a full-blooded Irishman.
-Peter Cushing in Island of Terror

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With all due respect to your point of view, you seem more interested in attacking what you call the propaganda of disarmament than critiquing this movie on its own merits.

Movies like War Game and Threads were important, and remain important, for several reasons, none of which have anything to do with disarmament. From the 1950s until the 1980s, both the British and U.S. governments spent a great deal of effort trying to convince the public that nuclear war was probably inevitable, and certainly survivable. In the U.S., we had "Duck and Cover" and in the U.K., "Protect and Survive".

Meanwhile, many political and military leaders continued to insist that a global thermonuclear war was actually winnable (though they hardly ever cared to define exactly what "victory" looked like). The importance, therefore, of movies such as The War Game was that they informed the public about what nuclear war would really look like. These movies woke people up to the futility of the civil defense programs that even governments eventually abandoned as the scientific data surrounding nuclear war became more widely known.

You assume that the objective of such movies was to promote an agenda of disarmament, and you're entitled to that opinion. Personally, I don't believe there are many rational people out there who support complete nuclear disarmament. The genie is out of the bottle now. At the same time, the importance of maintaining strict controls around the deployment and use of these devastating weapons is critical. My fear is not that a protracted international crisis will lead to nuclear war, but that it could be triggered by a false alarm, a misunderstanding or computer error. That threat is as real now as it was in the 1960s; perhaps more so given the deterioration of Russian early warning systems.

But in the context of the times, these movies served a very important purpose; to wake the public up to the reality of nuclear war and shattering the credibility of political and military strategists of that era who believed such a war was not only desirable but winnable.

As for your original point, just because a nuclear war hasn't happened doesn't prove anything. That's like saying "I've had unprotected sex with 200 partners and haven't caught an STD... Yet." Has it occurred to you that perhaps we've been riding our luck?

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A nuclear war did not occurr in the 1960's. Remarkable discovery. Good of you not keeping it to yourself. Thanks.

Here's another reveleation; it's called fiction, friend. Cavemen apparently invented it millenia ago. They would gather about and tell stories that had not occurred but could forseeably happen. Check it out at you local library establishment. As much as an entire half of the material there is devoted to it.

( Unbelievable. )

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My comment on it being fiction is point on in response to the many who are calling the movie "prophetic" and "prescient". These are the folks you ought to remind about the definition of fiction.

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One question. Where are all these people labelling this movie "prophetic" and "prescient"? Only one person out of the many reviewers on here described it as prophetic, attenuating your point, somewhat. I've read loads of other reviews, can't recall any of those people saying it either. Is this "many" just a fabrication perchance?

The main purpose of this film was to disseminate information that had so far been withheld by the obscurants in the British media. Watkins has gallantly and selflessly fought the hierachical relationship the media has with its audience all his career, and "War Game" is no exception. Reducing it to the level of a political tract does a gross injustice to the nobility of the sentiments that informed the genesis of this work.

You may accuse it of being tendentious, but I think his intentions in making this film were entirely honourable. Over and above creating a general awareness of what potential problems might face the general public in the event of a nuclear attack, he wanted to explicate just how the media distorts reality. In saying that it was mere propaganda for unilateral disarmament I can see your point, but I disagree, and I believe in the primacy of truth, and this film was based on verifiable data.

As for the comment about it being "nonsense" in your original post, well, that's just nonsense! For example, the interviews with establishment figures that you see, were based on actual quotations. There's nothing nonsensical about this film.

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