The War Game

Peter Watkins

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Peter Watkins, The War Game (still), 1966.

e-flux presents True Fake: Troubling the Real in Artists’ Films The War Game
Peter Watkins

46 Minutes

April 6–19, 2021

Join us on e-flux Video & Film for an online screening of Peter Watkins’ The War Game (1966), on view from Tuesday, April 6 through Monday, April 19, 2021.

Intended for broadcast on BBC in 1965, Peter Watkins’ nuclear war docudrama was withheld and remained untelevized for nearly twenty years. Continuing his previous experiments in blending fiction and documentary techniques, The War Game presents data drawn from Watkins’ detailed research—statistics extrapolated from nuclear bombings, quotes from high-ranking officials, Civil Defense documents, and scientific studies and accounts of the effects of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki blasts as well as the non-nuclear devastation of Dresden, Hamburg, and other cities during World War II. Since the 1960s, the film has become one of the most known examples of the faux documentary style, using actors and staged interviews to achieve realistic and shocking effects, and convey the political message that prompted BBC director general Hugh Carlton Greene to proclaim the film “too horrific for the medium of broadcast.” Ironically, the film went on to win the Oscar for best documentary feature after being released in theaters in 1966.

The War Game is presented here as one of four films in Part Five | Faux Documentary and Complex Reality the last of five programs in the online series True Fake: Troubling the Real in Artists’ Films programmed by Lukas Brasiskis for e-flux Video & Film.

True Fake: Troubling the Real in Artists’ Films runs from February 9 through April 19, 2021. The films in each part will screen for two weeks with a repeat screening of films in all programs on Tuesday, April 20, 2021.

For more information, contact program [​at​] e-flux.com.

Documentary, Experimental Film, Nuclear War, Trauma, Accidents & Disasters, Historicity & Historiography, Fiction
Return to Part Five | Faux Documentary and Complex Reality

Peter Watkins is an English film and television director born in 1935. A renowned figure in the history of moving image art, Watkins is one of the pioneers of the docudrama genre. His works and ideas focus on mass media and our relation to as well as participation in the mediated world. Watkins’ films often use a combination of dramatic and documentary elements to dissect historical occurrences or possible near future events. In 2004, Watkins published the book Media Crisis, which discusses his ideas of media hegemony which he calls the monoform, and the lack of debate around the construction of new forms of audiovisual media.


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