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  Short British Films &  TV Specials  

War Game

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   War Game   

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producers: Illuminated Films / Scala Prods
2D animation
      run time:
29 mins


    "Me in the centre...
     Lacey on the wing, just like before..."


    It's Christmas 1915, and deep in the heart of the battlefields of Europe, allies and
   enemies cast aside their differences for a fleeting moment, emerge from the squalor
   of the trenches and partake in a game of football.

   That Christmas footy game has been recounted and filmed many times. Paul
   McCartney even sang about it ("Pipes of Peace", Christmas 1983). This particular
   adaptation coimes from Illuminated Films, via the award-winning books by Michael
   Foreman. And it's super. The story commences back in Britain, with friends
   Will, Freddie, Billy and Lacey playing football together on the local playing fields.
   The four embrace the call for men at arms and enlist for war. They train as part
   of the King's Royal Rifles and are soon despatched to France and the trenches of
   the front line. In the lull of Christmas Day, the opposing factions drop their weapons
   and partake of carol singing and a game of football, and for one fleeting moment
   humanity is restored. But all too quickly, they must reconvene for battle, and our
   four friends are sent over the top to their doom....
   Michael Foreman's book was written in memory of his four uncles who died in
   the Great War. The publication won the coveted 1993 Smarties Book Prize.
   It was a companion book to his earlier title "War Boy", which depicted his own
   experiences of war as a child. "War Boy" won the 1990 Kate Greenaway Medal.

   "War Game" is visually glorious. The opening scenes are bathed in the golden
   hues of Summer, with the clouds of war looming on the horizon. Kitchener pops
   out of a recruitment poster to rally the recruits,  before they depart on great
   iron steamships as the flag-waving crowds see them off. Contrast this with the
   charcoal outlines of our heroes entering their final bitter No-Man's Land; the figures
   of the fallen, glimpsed through the fog of war. As for the game itself, well, there are
   no spitting Gerries here, or moustache-twirling blighters. The two "teams" are
   completely, unistakably human, sharing a precious moment together, separated
   by circumstance alone...

   Some might say "War Game" is too sanitized, too clean with its depictions of
   battle. But The Hound's here to remind folks that this is essentially a tale for
   children, to teach them what happened during the Great War. And though it
   may be bloodless, visually and emotionally it's as hard as nails. Which is no
   surprise once you looked at the credits. Producer Iain Harvey has that cold-war
   classic When the Wind Blows atop his CV, and he and director Dave Unwin
   draw us into a red melee of explosions and gun fire, we peer through smoke and
   mud at the faces of our heroes as they are steered inexorably towards their fate.
   Yes, what we have here is a classic, classy film, and a very moving tribute to
   the fallen of war. See it and weep.
» "War Game" has stirred the emotions of many festival juries around the
      world and its extensive list of prizes include platitudes from Annecy, Banff
      and the British Animation Awards...

» "War Boy" is currently being developed as the follow-up...


    2003 Cinemagic Festival, Belfast - First Prize
    2002 British Animation Awards - Children's Choice
    2003 Cairo Intl Film Festival for Children - Best Animation Film,
            Children's Intl Jury Prize and UNICEF Prize
    2003 Il Cordoba Anim Celebration, Argentina - Best Animation ANIMA 03
    2002 Cinanamia Festival, Portugal - Alves Costa Award
    2002 Intl Festival of Film & Video, Iran - Golden Butterfly: Best short
    2002 Bourg en Bresse Festival, France - Grand Prix du Festival
    2002 Annecy Intl - Best Television Special
    2002 Banff, Canada - Intl Student Jury Award


    In the news

The Hound: November 2005
    War Game and the Great War...

The Hound: July 2005
    A look at War Game on DVD...

    War Game Giveaway: July 2005
     Toonhound's DVD giveaway...

    Further reading

    War Game by Michael Foreman
     Pavilion Books 1993 / Chrysalis Childrens Books 1995

    War Boy by Michael Foreman
     Puffin Books 1991


    War Game on DVD

    UK DVD War Game
                Region 2 / Revelation Films / June 2005

     USA DVD
War Game
                Region 1 / First Run Features / Sept 2004


     an Illuminated Films production
     based on the book by Michael Foreman

       director:         Dave Unwin  
       producer:       Iain Harvey
       exec prod:      Nik Powell
       co-exec prod: Sunkee Chung
       line prod:        Ian McCue
       asst to prod:   Alison Gentleman
       art dir:            Paul Osborne     
       music:            Julian Nott   
       screenplay:     Simon Nicholson
       editor:            Taylor Grant     

       storyboard:     Dave Unwin
       voices:           Kate Winslet (Mum / Annie) 
                            Iain Jones (Will)
                            Adam Godley (Lacey / Dad)
                            Ben Warwick (Freddie)
                            Tom Wesel (German Soldier)
                            Colin McFarlane (Little General / King George)
                            Phil Rowson (Machine Gunner)


     On the web

Illuminated Films

     A very handsome site here, with lots of info and images
     from "War Game" and the rest of Illuminated's productions...

      index »    previous »   

© Illuminated Films / Scala Productions 2001/ F2006