Thursday, 19 March 2015

When the Wind Blows (1986)

When the Wind Blows is a mixed-media demonstration of the repercussions of nuclear war in Britain, directed by Jimmy T. Murakami. Alongside him, writer and artist Raymond Briggs (whom Murukami also collaborated with for the 1982 Christmas classic The Snowman) is responsible for the distinct illustrative style we recognize today. Interweaved with 2D animation, the film is shot with a variety of mediums including 3D models and archive footage of war from the 20th century. The film stars John Mills and Peggy Ashcroft as tragically naïve couple Jim and Hilda, living in the English countryside after retiring.
We are quickly introduced to the couples' quaint and traditional lifestyle as the threat of nuclear attack grows more and more likely. Husband, Jim, formulates an immediate plan of action based on government-distributed leaflets, following obscure and out-dated procedures in an attempt to survive nuclear fallout. The couple keep themselves occupied with typical British optimism in the hopes that the whole situation will 'just blow over', but as the bleak outlook of post-war Britain sets in, the pensioners discover their way of life will never be the same again.
The film demonstrates the chaos and destruction of war by imposing its effects on innocent and relatable characters, referencing real-life dictators and elaborating on previous evacuation methods. With this, the audience is given access to the nostalgia of British hardship in WWII, making their attempts to survive alone feel all the more isolated and hopeless.
The varied animation styles are a key component to the tone of the film, from Briggs' 'cute and soft' character art to the sharp and jittery effects simulating the nuclear strike. The combination of styles and flashback sequences engross the audience and distract from the minimal change of scenery, making the film a beautifully uncomfortable watch.
Overall, the combination of stylized immersion and realistic characters make When the Wind Blows an eye-opening account of the social issues in British wartime.

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