I'm not kidding when I say I'm probably going to need therapy after I've finished this project. I'm ten films in and I'm already starting to twitch when a car backfires. I did beforehand, of course, but now I also shit my pants.
Nevertheless, even by the rarified new heights of the kind of paranoia I've found myself entering into, When The Wind Blows was like a punch in the stomach. No film - of any kind - that I have seen in my life has affected me in such a strong way since I first saw Threads. But in many ways, When The Wind Blows is even more powerful: Threads is set in Sheffield, where nuclear wars are common and people would be eating dead rats through choice or trading their daughter's virginity for a loaf of bread. When The Wind Blows is set in Sussex, lovely Sussex. Indeed, as the author of the graphic novel on which the film is based, Raymond Briggs, lives in Westmeston and the lead character is seen getting off the Lewes bus in the opening scenes, it's safe to assume that it's in that kind of area that the film is set. That's just six miles from where I grew up. We frown on nuclear war down here in Sussex. It would never be approved by the Parish council.
|James Bloggs: I bet you wished you'd joined CND|
Retired couple James and Hilda Bloggs live in a cottage on the Sussex Downs. When The Wind Blows is the story of their preparations for war, using the laughably inadequate governmental guidelines of the time. They discuss the last war and try and adapt to the realities that a third world conflict would bring. After the bomb drops, we watch them struggle with their reduced circumstances as they both succumb to radiation sickness.
It's a monumental achievement in filmmaking, managing to maintain a levity, charm and humour whilst never diminishing its raging assault on the futility of war and the nuclear arms race. It is by turns sad, chilling, funny and realistic. By some measure it is the most eloquent argument against the madness of Mutually Assured Destruction ever committed to film. I give When The Wind Blows a giant TEN out of ten disaster points. And then I had a nervous collapse.