Cinepub


The Depress-A-Thon: When The Wind Blows by Jamie

The Cold War era was a great time for depressing media. The nuclear threat cast it’s long, dark shadow all across the globe as the threat of complete destruction was, for one of the first times in human history, very real. From the 50s you had the awesome nuclear safety videos telling people what to do in case of a bomb being dropped such as the infamous ‘Duck and Cover’ which seemed to serve no purpose other than ensuring you died looking like an idiot.

It was this era that gave rise to some of the great post-apocalyptic films as well. ‘Mad Max’, ‘Planet Of The Apes’ and ‘Terminator’ all owe something to growing fear over the complete annihilation of mankind but these films weren’t particularly true to life and largely dealt with the consequences of the apocalypse rather than the apocalypse itself. It is those films which deal with an actual nuclear attack and it’s consequences that are truly the most terrifying and depressing, things like ‘The Day After’, ‘Threads’ and the subject of today’s review ‘When The Wind Blows’.(Spoilers Ahead)

The film is an animated feature and if you’ve ever seen the charming, though also ultimately rather depressing, children’s Christmas film ‘The Snowman’ then the animation style should be rather familiar to you. The story follows Jim (John Mills) and Hilda Bloggs (Peggy Ashcroft), a retired couple living in a remote cottage somewhere in rural Sussex. Jim has become increasingly worried about the possibility of a nuclear strike against Britain and so has decided to follow governmental guidelines and build himself a bomb shelter out a few doors. Hilda is less concerned but indulges Jim in his paranoia, helping him when she can as long as doing so doesn’t interfere with her daily chores.

Both members of the Bloggs family are generally quite optimistic about what would happen if the bomb were to fall. Both grew up during the blitz and have fond memories of nights spent in Anderson Shelter’s and communities coming together to help each other in times of need. Jim in particular is incredibly trusting in the government and it’s ability to continue running the country in a forthright and proper manner should war break out. Neither of them seem to fully understand just exactly what a nuclear attack would mean for them and the people of Britain.

Jim finishes his shelter and, with Hilda’s help, begins to stock it with everything they need to survive the 48 weeks (which Jim later realises is actually 48 hours, a mistake made by his misreading of the official governmental pamphlet) he believes they are required to stay within the shelter to bypass the fallout from the bomb. Suddenly an announcement comes over the radio. The unthinkable has happened. The bomb is on its way. Jim and Hilda scramble to get into their homemade shelter and the explosion rocks their cottage.

The rest of the film deals with the aftermath of the bomb and the effect it has on Jima and Hilda as they re-emerge from their shelter. They find a world in which the countryside they live in is practically entirely dead, their water supply is cut off and even the milk and postmen haven’t managed to make their daily rounds.

Of course Jim isn’t too worried. He theorises that there are bound to be delays during the emergency period that immediately follows the bomb. He’s also adamant that the government are working as quickly as possible to sort everything out and get all of the countries basic infrastructure up and running again. He’s also sure that emergency medical teams will be making the rounds as well, checking up on people, which is a good thing because it seems as though the shock of the bomb is having detrimental effects on both his and Hilda’s health. Jim, it seems, is completely ignorant of the effects of prolonged exposure to radiation.

As the days pass, Jim and Hilda succumb more and more to the effects of radiation poisoning and help still doesn’t seem to becoming. Eventually they decide to crawl back into their shelter, just in case a second bomb is dropped. The film ends with the couple praying before it fades to black.

All in all the film is a stark look at just what effects the bomb would have on people who are in regions that lay outside a major target such as London. There’s would be a slow, agonising death brought on by exposure to the radioactive fallout. Despite this the film is actually quite comical in nature, with much of the comedy coming from Jim’s adherence to the governmental outlines, the couples quintessential Britishness and the couples general ignorance about the consequences of a nuclear attack. There impression of what will happen is coloured by their experiences during the blitz and they expect much the same will happen this time. Of course, it’s this ignorance of the consequences which ultimately spells Jim and Hilda’s doom.

It’s a poignant, funny yet ultimately depressing film that I really do recommend. If there’s one criticism I can make it’s that there are occasional trippy little musical sequences, in particular during a scene where Hilda is hanging up her washing whilst Jim builds his shelter, which seem to serve no purpose and really just doesn’t fit with the rest of the film. Otherwise it’s another excellent example of a brilliantly depressing film based on events which, at the time of it’s production, seemed all too possible. Four pints out of five. Laterz.



5 Top Films Still To Come In 2009 by Jamie

As you may know by now, I’ve been pretty disappointed with 2009 so far. In general it’s been a pretty goddamn terrible year for films what with shit like Wolverine, Friday the 13th and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen hitting the screens. Sure there have been some bright sparks here and there but overall, it’s been pretty awful. Now the year is over halfway through so shouldn’t we just give up entirely? No because there are still some films to be released that I hope might bring the years overall score up a little. Let’s look at he top 5 films I’m still looking forward to.

5: Inglorious Basterds (UK/US release date: 21/08/2009)

Yes, Tarantino’s WWII themed spaghetti-western comes in at number 5. It has his largest cast of speaking roles in a flim so far and tells the story of a group of Jewish-American soldiers who are on a mission to kill as many Nazi’s as they possibly can while a Jewish girl attempts to avenge the death of her family at the hands of an SS Colonel referred to as ‘The Jew Hunter’.

Now, I generally love Tarantino films so I can help but look forward to this one, especially with a cast that includes Brad Pitt, who has been pretty consistently great in everything he’s been in since Fight Club. The film also boasts performances from Eli Roth, Mike Myers and the while things narrated by the bad motherfucker himself, Samuel L. Jackson. The only reason that this film isn’t higher is that the film recieved a bit of bad press when it was screened but it was still the only American film at the festival to recieve any kind of award so time will tell whether this film lives up to my expectations or just adds to the massive dissapointment of 2009.

4: Where The Wild Things Are (US release date: 16/10/09)

This is the story of a kid who wears weird pajamas who goes and plays with massive furry monsters voiced by Tony Soprano in a weird forest that gets bombed or something. I dunno, I never read the book as a kid as far as I can remember, which to be honest may have meant that I read it several times. I have a shit memory.

So the main reason I’ve put this on here is the technique of making the weird monster creatures is really interesting and, from the trailer at least, it looks as though it works really well. Will it actually be any good? As I understand the book it’s adapted from is actually really quite short and we all know where that can lead (The Grinch and The Cat in the Hat).

3: Taking Woodstock (US release date: 28/08/09)

Directed by Ang Lee this is an R rated comedy based on the true life story of Elliot Tiber, a guy whose parents owned a motel and the only music festival permit in Bethel, New York. He offered both of these things to the Woodstock Music Festival.

Now this film ticks a number of boxes that make me look forward to it. A cast of people I enjoy: Demetri Martin, Emile Hirsch, Eugene Levy. Tick. A subject that I’m interested in: Woodstock. Tick. R-Rated comedy. Tick. So all in all this film looks like it’s going to be right down my alley. Here’s hoping this isn’t another 2009 dissapointment.

2: Sherlock Holmes (UK release date: 25/12/09)

Guy Ritchie’s period action film about the world’s most famous detective (except maybe Batman) starring Robert Downie Jr. and Jude Law as the Victorian dynamic duo is certainly one to look forward to. I was a little concerned when I first saw the trailer, thinking that they’d made Holmes into some kind of 19th century James Bond but hey, the fashion these days is taking classic characters and reinvisioning them so why not Holmes too?

Also it’s got Robert Downie Jr. in it for fucks sake! He’s consistently proving that he’s one of the best actors we’ve got these days and I’m sure some people will soon begin complaining that he’s over-exposed but who cares as long as he can consistently deliver sterling performances?

1: District 9 (UK/US release date: 19/08/09)

I don’t think anyone should be surprised by this. In fact, is there anyone who’s not looking forward to this film? It’s the story of aliens living in a segregated community (District 9) in South Africa. The community is controlled by the human corporation Multi-National United (MNU) who have no interest in the aliens welfare. In fact the only thing the humans are interested in is their technology which won’t work without alien DNA. Suddenly an MNU worker contracts an alien virus which begins to mutate his genes, making him the key to humans being able to use the alien weaponry. He becomes a hunted man and, becoming ostracised and friendless, he takes shelter in the only place he can, District 9.

I’ll admit, I was a little shocked when the first full trailer came out and showed this was a far more straightforward film rather than the documentary style I had come to expect from the teasers but I get the feeling that there will probably be a decent mix of both styles which will make me very, very happy indeed. Man, I can’t wait for this to be released. In fact the only problem with District 9 is that it heavily features the worst accent on Earth. Sorry South Africans, but really, it’s like someone smacking my ears with a frying pan. Still, hopefully someone will say ‘Diplomatic Immunity.’ Then all will be well.




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