It’s been far too long since I recommended any films on this site. Here then is another classic up for consideration as part of my Post-Apocalyptic Movie Club. I’m going to try and post these with much more regularity throughout 2012.
The film I’ve chosen today is one of my all time favourite movies, and one of those rare instances when a film adaptation clearly surpasses the source material. I’m talking about CHILDREN OF MEN, directed in 2006 by Alfonso Cuaron, and starring Clive Owen, Michael Caine and Julianne Moore.
Where do you begin with a film like this? It’s a matter of personal tastes of course but, for me, Children of Men is almost note perfect.
I thought it had only been a few weeks, but it’s actually several months since I last posted an entry in my ‘Post-Apocalyptic Movie Club’. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s an (increasingly) irregular look at some of the post-apocalyptic movies I’ve seen, particularly those which have gone on to have an impact on my work. You can read previous entries here. No in-depth analysis or anything heavy here, just a recommendation or two.
Today I’m writing about Peter Watkins’ The War Game, a BBC drama made in 1965, but not shown until twenty years later, despite winning the Best Documentary Oscar in 1967.
The War Game depicts the build up, impact and after-effects of a global nuclear conflict, concentrating particularly on the people of Rochester, Kent, who are hit by an off-strike weapon originally aimed at Gatwick airport.
The film was commissioned by the BBC as part of a weekly drama series, but was withdrawn from transmission as it was adjudged to be “too horrifying for the medium of broadcasting”. I watched the film again several weeks back, and despite its age and having seen it several times before, it still shook me with its power. It’s little wonder that it wasn’t shown on British television until 1985. I can only imagine what audiences in the 1960’s would have made of it.
I’ve not been able to post here much lately, but I’ll be back next week with plenty of Autumn: The City related stuff. In the meantime, here’s another entry in the Post-Apocalyptic Movie Club.
In May 1980 the British government distributed a leaflet called ‘Protect and Survive’ to all homes in the UK. It (along with a series of public information films like the one embedded below) was designed to provide homeowners with practical advice on how to protect themselves in the event of a nuclear attack. The original intention was to have them distributed only in time of a national emergency, but the media interest and ensuing public debate was such that they were given a general release. Fat lot of good they’d have done if the shit really had hit the fan! Shoving a few doors against a wall and covering them in mattresses and cushions might have offered some protection from the initial blast, but such a shelter, like the government publications themselves, would have done little to help the post-attack population cope with fallout, hunger, fear, desperation, cold, devastating injuries, lawlessness, etc. etc. etc.
Several months late, but here’s the second in my series of looks at classic (and not so classic) post-apocalyptic movies.
Picture the scene: late-1983 – a very different, pre-Internet world where news comes almost entirely from the daily papers and scheduled radio and TV bulletins, where information isn’t available ‘on tap’ like it is today. It’s a world which feels like it’s permanently on the edge; split into east and west by two opposing superpowers with their respective leaders’ fingers hovering over the buttons which, it seems, will inevitably release a nuclear Armageddon sometime very soon. In school playgrounds, kids talk nervously about things like Mutual Assured Destruction and what they’re going to do when the four-minute warning sounds. There’s an uneasy feeling of impending doom, and the lack of readily available information makes the playground chatter that much more frightening… ‘your eyes melt if you look at one of them exploding’, ‘they’ll aim at least three at our city, we won’t have a chance’, ‘I heard Dad talking to one of his mates about the missiles at Greenham Common’…
Well that was quite a year! The last 12 months have been incredible, and there’s plenty more planned for 2011. Just to whet your appetite, here’s a taster of what’s due: the final book in the HATER series: THEM OR US (I’ve just seen some proposed cover designs: wow… just wow!), several more AUTUMN books (watch for AUTUMN: THE CITY at the end of January / beginning of February and yes – at long last – AUTUMN: DISINTEGRATION later in the year), the AUTUMN website with over 100,000 words of free zombie fiction, and various other things I’m not allowed to talk about yet (including news of a long-gestating big screen project which I’m really excited about).
My New Years resolution for 2011 is to get more organised. I’ve got a stack of entries for the Post-Apocalyptic Movie Club to write up and post, and I want to talk about a few books I’ve recently read as well. I also owe blurbs to a few folks, so I’ll be trying to catch up on my reading over the holidays. This is my last planned post before Christmas, but I might sneak in a few reviews etc. if the kids let me get close to the computer!
My main reason for writing today though is to thank everyone who has supported me over the last few years, and also those who’ve discovered my books more recently. It really does mean a lot and I hope you’ll all stick around for more. Whatever you’re celebrating, wherever you are, I hope you have a safe, happy and enjoyable holiday season and I’ll leave you with this slice of utter genius from Team Unicorn.
This is the first film in my ‘Post-Apocalyptic Movie Club’ – a series of regular features, essays and discussions about films which depict the end of the world in one way or another. I know it’s not right, but I’m addicted to this stuff! Please check out the movie, read my thoughts, then join me to talk about it in the forum or on Facebook, Twitter etc.
Threads, a BBC TV production, was first broadcast in September 1984 and subsequently repeated the following August to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It wasn’t shown again on UK TV until 2003 and despite owning a VHS copy since the early 1990’s, it had been more than 15 years since I’d watched the film when I sat down to watch it again recently. Looking back, I think I may have set the bar too high by selecting Threads as my first film for discussion. I’ve yet to find a more harrowing or thought-provoking PA movie.
Do away with The Stand: we’ve all read it (hopefully) and seen the TV movie. I am Legend as well – you’re not welcome here. Anything with zombies spelling the end of mankind? Please leave the building in an orderly fashion, kindly taking any severed limbs with you.
It’s all the Mayan’s fault. They ran out of days on their calendar and created a concern that touched almost every man, woman and child on the planet in the process. The big day came and went with about so much as a plane falling from the sky: an incorrect belief that circled the globe because an ancient mathematician was too lazy to count any further than he had too. Every soothsayer and psychic since we’ve been able to put quill to papyrus has had the fantasy of getting it right and guessing humanity’s ultimate demise, as if correctly guessing our extinction would earn them bonus points in the afterlife or perhaps to be smug for that last second before we’re all wiped out would make it all worthwhile.
Death is our last fetish and is as inevitable as taxes, as the adage goes. It greets us on the news, in soap operas and in our own little lives with our own sequence of tragedies that pepper our existence. There are many books that speculate on our end. Nostradamus had a good go. The Bible dwells on fire, brimstone and punishing sinners with the arrival of the Four Horsemen and the ultimate torture room, Hades. The recent surge in post-apocalyptic fiction, with the rise of The Walking Dead series for example has further cemented the end of days into popular culture. The end sells.
Many writers have explored this, some more popular than others. So I’d like to introduce you to five powerful novels which treat the end of us just as brutally as Stephen King preaches in The Stand, Richard Matheson explores in I am Legend and John Wyndham shows the dangers of meddling with nature in The Day of the Triffids.
I’m sure many of you have heard of Sean Page – best-selling author and head-honcho at the Ministry of Zombies. Sean’s a lovely guy who works tirelessly to educate the masses about the very real dangers of the impending zombie apocalypse. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him on a number of occasions and I can say with real certainty that he’d make a vital member of your survival team when the shit hits the fan.
So what do you get when you add Sean Page to the nuclear bunker? I’ll tell you – you get the Omega Man Project.
Starting tomorrow, Sean will seal himself into the lower levels of the bunker where he’ll remain in isolation for a week. His only contact with the rest of the world will be by way of a daily video/blog post at www.ministryofzombies.com. I urge you all to follow this brave hero as he attempts to recreate the aftereffects of an I AM LEGEND type viral apocalypse.
Do you remember my trip to the secret nuclear bunker a couple of years back? The time I tricked my family into helping me out with a little book research in the middle of an otherwise normal family holiday? If you don’t remember, click here to read about our Cold War day trip.
Now, do you remember Antony White? Antony’s one of the brilliant artists who contributed to www.lastoftheliving.net – I featured him and his work on this site last year (click here).
Antony got in touch again recently to tell me about a new project he has created with his partner Carly: The Last Survivors (www.thelastsurvivors.co.uk). It’s proudly described as ‘the UK’s most realistic zombie experience’ and it takes place in, you guessed it, the secret nuclear bunker I mentioned at the beginning of this post. I was invited along to a press run through but, unfortunately, I couldn’t make it. So I sent along a deputy – Ryan Fleming (star of page 351 of AUTUMN: AFTERMATH, no less!) – in my place.
Watch the trailer, read Ryan’s report by clicking the link below, then book your tickets!