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Screening of ‘The War Game’ in Sutton on 27 November

Docu-drama about the effects of nuclear war – BBC TV 1965

The film they tried to ban!

By late1964 Harold Wilson’s newly elected Labour Government had already broken its election manifesto to unilaterally disarm Britain, and was in fact developing a full-scale nuclear weapons programme, in spite of wide-spread protest.  The public had little information about the effects of nuclear weapons and British TV was reluctant to discuss the arms race.

The War Game portrays the possible effects of a nuclear strike on Britain following the outbreak of war between NATO and the USSR – the millions of victims, the ridiculous protective measures for civilians and the return to barbarism – and lays bare how ill-prepared citizens and the authorities were. Its newsreal style interweaves scenes of ’reality’ with stylized ’interviews’ based on genuine quotations, and uses Nagasaki and Hiroshima as models of the effects of such events. It was filmed in black and white by Peter Watkins in 1965, in a corner of Kent with a cast made up mostly of non-actors.

Having seen the film and consulted government officials the BBC announced that they would not broadcast it on TV.  In 1966 the BBC organised private screenings for invited members of the British Establishment and defence correspondents – but not film journalists. The majority of the British press backed the suppression of the film.

The War Game was shown abroad and it won the 1966 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. It was eventually broadcast in the UK on BBC2 on 31 July 1985, as part of the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Nagasaki and Hiroshima – with critics saying the BBC had suppressed one of the greatest dramas ever made.

‘A warning masterpiece. It may be the most important film ever made.’  The Observer.

‘Brilliant. But it must stay banned’. Daily Sketch.

‘The only possible effect of showing it to the British public would be … to raise more unilateral disarmament recruits.’ Evening News.

On Friday 27 November at Friends House, Cedar Road, Sutton, SM2 5DA.

Doors open 7.00pm, film starts at 7.30.

There is no advance entry charge.

Please reserve your place by email to sutton4peace@yahoo.co.uk or by text message to 07740 594496.

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