With the help of government-issued pamphlets, an elderly British couple build a shelter and prepare for an impending nuclear attack, unaware that times and the nature of war have changed from their romantic memories of World War II.Written by
Andy Bogursky <firstname.lastname@example.org>
'When the Wind Blows' is an amazing piece of animation in more ways than one. Amazing, firstly, for being such an elusive dark horse that, in spite of its quality, remains little known to this day. Amazing also for the seamless mode in which it combines dimensions, propping 2D characters up against both 2D and 3D backgrounds. And, finally, amazing for being so bursting in valor and heartache in the gut-punch it delivers. Indeed, if you want my stance on things this humble little flick ranks alongside 'Yellow Submarine' shoulder-to-shoulder as two of the most eye-catching pacifist movies ever made. What's really interesting is that, while the central message is essentially the same (give peace a chance), these movies couldn't be more of a contrast. 'Yellow Submarine' is at one end of the spectrum; quirky, light-hearted and dripping with colour, it's a very hippie, flower power kind of vision that (among other things), shows us the potential joys of living in a world without conflict. WTWB is right at the other up to its neck in darkness and somberness, it offers up the alternative route; the pure horror of a world wrecked by nuclear war. Before you settle down to watch this, bear in mind that WTWB isn't easy viewing in fact it's a flick that grows more and more painful as it goes but it's a fulfilling one nonetheless that leaves a real lasting impact on the viewer and certainly a film everyone, adults *and* kids alike, should watch.
Even if you're a hardcore war endorser, you simply couldn't be human if you didn't, at any point, feel the slightest pang of conscience for the two characters stuck in the middle of this one. Jim and Hilda are an elderly couple living a tranquil life in a small cottage out in the countryside they embody just about the most benign and peaceful kind of civilian you could imagine. Yet they are doomed to suffer the most for something over which they have no voice. They place their trust in a line of government-issued pamphlets and, in spite of the obvious flaws and contradictions in their advice, manage to construct a shelter that will stand up to the bombing. And, miraculously, it works but it leaves them totally unprepared for a threat even more horrifying, devastating and noxious than the blast itself; the nuclear winter, or 'fallout', that must follow.
When Raymond Briggs first set out to tell this incredible and nerve-jangling story, he chose to do it in one of the most unlikely formats available; a children's comic book. To some extent, something *is* lost in translating the original story to film it's a faithful adaptation, and really maintains Briggs' look, feel and sense of character (he himself had quite a big finger in this pie), but in merely being a movie it lacks the naïve innocence that only a children's storybook could really provide. The advantage it does have, however, is the chance to delve into his sketching style and produce some quality animation, a challenge it rises to well there are some brief interludes throughout the story which feature beautiful, even mesmerising artwork, serving up a sharp contrast to the painful reality our heroes are facing. The background score is entrancing, and the lyrics of Roger Waters' end-credits number just demand to be listened to. John Mills and Peggy Ashcroft were the *perfect* selections for the voices of Jim and Hilda. And, like the original source material, it makes brilliant use of understatement to paint a bigger, much more ghastly picture. Hard though it may seem, this is a film that really demands multiple viewings, as so many things are left to us, the viewers, to suss out for ourselves.
Final note stay right until the *very* end of the closing credits. This experience just isn't complete without hearing that chilling beeping as it fades.
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