The War Game

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The War Game is a 1965 television drama documentary depicting the effects on nuclear war on Britain. Written, directed, and produced by Peter Watkins for the BBC's The Wednesday Play anthology series, it caused dismay within the BBC and in government but was withdrawn from transmission on 6 August 1965 (the twentieth anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing). The corporation publicly stated that "the effect of the film has been judged by the BBC to be too horrifying for the medium of broadcasting". The film was not completedly suppressed, it had limited distribution and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 1966.[1] but it remained unshown in full on British television until 1985.



Made in black and white with a running time of just under fifty minutes, The War Game depicts the prelude to and the immediate weeks of the aftermath to a Soviet nuclear attack against Britain. A Chinese invasion of South Vietnam starts the war; tensions escalate when the U.S. authorises tactical nuclear warfare against the Chinese, although the Soviet and East German forces threaten to invade West Berlin if the U.S. does not withdraw that decision. The U.S. does not acquiesce to Communist demands, and occupies West Berlin; two U.S. Army divisions attempt to fight their way into Berlin, but the Russian and East German forces defeat them in battle. The U.S. President launches a pre-emptive, NATO tactical nuclear attack. A limited nuclear war erupts between the West and the East; missiles strike Britain.

The chaos of the prelude to the attack, as city residents are forcibly evacuated to the country, leads to the story's centre in Rochester, Kent, which is struck by an off-target missile aimed at Gatwick airport. Key targets in Kent are RAF Manston and the Maidstone barracks, which are mentioned in scenes showing immediate effects of the attack. The results of that missile's explosion are the instant blinding of those who see the explosion, the resultant firestorm caused by the heat wave, and the blast front; later, the collapse of society, because of radiation sickness, psychological damage, and destroyed infrastructure; the British Army burns corpses, while police shoot looters during food riots.

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