When The Wind Blows (1986) (Blu-ray/DVD film review).

January 22, 2018 | By | Reply More

‘When The Wind Blows’ by Raymond Briggs is the story of one simple couple who follow the government’s advice on what to do if nuclear war breaks out. Jim is retired and his wife, Hilda, is a housewife. The film starts with an exciting live-action sequence of police and military vehicles rushing about then cuts to old Jim in the library reading the papers. He gets the bus back to his country home, somewhere near Lewes, and tells his wife that the international situation is deteriorating. ‘The papers are full of rubbish. Don’t read them,’ is her sage advice He’s a balding old bloke who wears braces. She’s a dumpy woman with an apron and hairnet. Their voices are provided by British acting aristocracy, Sir John Mills and Dame Peggy Ashcroft.

However, Jim picked up two leaflets from the library: ‘Protect And Survive’ and ‘Householders Guide To Survival’ and he faithfully follows the instructions to keep his family safe. He builds an interior shelter out of doors and lines it with cushions to protect from the fallout. He gathers together some tinned food to see them through the crisis and paints the windows white to keep out the radiation. He does his best.

There’s a bit of remembrance of things past as they think back to World War II. Everybody did their bit and we pulled through. Retrospectively, it was quite a jolly adventure really. They think World War III will be much the same. Jim is sure that if he ‘does the correct thing’ as advised by ‘the powers that be’ they will survive. After all, the Americans have ‘tactile nuclear superiority’. The comedy at this stage is black.

The bomb is dropped and it all turns sour. I won’t summarise the plot because you should see it. I do think it’s important to note Briggs’ sympathy for the lead characters who are loosely based on his parents, he admits, but more simple. If Briggs was some smartass young middle-class lefty mocking the working class older generation it wouldn’t work. He’s on their side.

The animation has a bit of live action thrown in and it all works very well. The DVD has many extras including a profile of the director, Jimmy Murukami, a Japanese-American who had a relative at Hiroshima. Obviously, the subject meant a lot to him. There’s a chance to see the original public service broadcast from 1975 ‘Protect And Survive’ which shows you the advice Jim was following and there’s a nice interview with Raymond Briggs.

This new release is from the British Film Institute or BFI in the maddening modern marketing style. It’s dual format, both DVD and Blu-Ray, in High Definition with stereo sound and all the super-duper technology you expect from a modern release. The original soundtrack is by Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, the title song is by David Bowie and, all in all, it’s a terrific package, highly recommended.

Briggs’ ‘The Snowman’ is shown on television every year at Christmas. It’s achieved the same status as ‘White Christmas’ and ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’. This dark film has not had the same popularity but perhaps deserves it more. Much as we like to pretend, the threat of nuclear war has not gone away. But don’t do as Jim does if it happens. Just bend right over and kiss your…

Oops! This is a family show.

Eamonn Murphy

January 2018

(region 2/region B: pub: BFI. 2 DVD/blu-ray 84 minute film with extras. Price: £14.99 (UK). Cat No. BFIB1280. ASIN: B076M98H2M)

cast includes: Sir John Mills and Dame Peggy Ashcroft

check out websites: www.bfi/org.uk and http://shop.bfi.org.uk/when-the-wind-blows.html#.WmSOIcsiGUk

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Category: Films, Scifi

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Eamonn Murphy is a science fiction and fantasy writer and reviewer who lives in the south west of England. If you want to know more visit his website: https://eamonnmurphyblog.com/

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