Culloden commentary by Dr John Cook
Culloden & The War Game (Blu-ray+DVD) BFI
Culloden, Peter Watkins’ first full-length film, a docudrama made for the BBC, portrays the 1746 Battle of Culloden which in the words of the narrator “tore apart forever the clan system of the Scottish Highlands”. The film was hailed as a breakthrough for its cinematography, as well as its use of non-professional actors and presentation of an historical event in the style of modern TV reporting.
The War Game is Watkins’ 1965 Academy Award-winning television drama-documentary depicting a nuclear war, written, directed and produced by Watkins for the BBC’s The Wednesday Play anthology series. The film shows the prelude to, and immediate weeks of the aftermath, of a Soviet nuclear attack against Britain. Told in the style of a news magazine programme, the cast was made up of non-actors, with narration by Peter Graham and Michael Aspel reading quotations from source material.
Watkins is known for pushing boundaries to the extreme with his documentaries and his films continue to inspire today.
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