Culloden 1964 ***


Long before Paul Greengrass sprang onto the scene, Peter Watkins was an enfant terrible of British political cinema, taking on the authorities with potent and challenging fictions, and also staging imaginative reconstructions like 1964’s The Battle of Culloden. Predating The War Game, his celebrated consideration of what a nuclear war would be like, Culloden fixes itself onto one of the great military battles of history, the last stand of Bonnie prince Charlie and a battle between Scots and English forces that proved to be the last of British soil. Watkins films proceedings as if TV camera were actually there, interviewing soldiers for vox-pops on all sides and conveying a you-are-there feel. The atmosphere if 1746 is caught in stark black and white; whatever the arguments are for or against Scottish nationalism, and Culloden is remarkably even handed for a film about a massacre, Watkins makes a strong case for war as a destructive force.


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