The War Game remains Watkins’s best-known film, perhaps because it affected public discussion to such an extent that despite being banned by the BBC it won an Oscar and placed the director in an international forum. Thankfully, his other work is now being released on DVD by New Yorker Video, where it will hopefully find a larger audience. The War Game is accompanied on DVD by his earlier film Culloden. This no less extraordinary recreation of the final battle between the Jacobite Scottish Highlanders and the English Army on Culloden Moor during the 18th century pretends that documentary film crews could cover the battle on the front lines, with a motion picture camera and sound. The camera picks up the seared, scared faces on both sides of the battle, and its depiction of men killing men and cannons firing across fields has no glory. Instead, it is a slow, sickening vision of ethnic cleansing, and the way men have to shut off parts of their minds in order to commit horrible acts. It takes all of the romance out of historical battles, and creates an analogy between then and now. Is the war about so-called freedom, or for land and money? Watkins continually questions why wars are fought, and what the soldiers believe, and what the authorities say, and whether these things add up. By digging under the surface, Watkins sees the lies perpetuated in history, and how they reveal the lies we face right now.
- Public Broadcasting Service
- 72 min
- Peter Watkins
- Peter Watkins
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