HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Last Warrior, The
Artemis 81
Rampage
Quiet Place, A
Braven
Changeover, The
Isle of Dogs
Funny Cow
Maze Runner: The Death Cure
Mad to Be Normal
Beast of Burden
Dead Men Walk
Game Night
Under the Tree
L'Amant Double
Gonin
Coco
Producers, The
Molly's Game
Forest of the Lost Souls, The
Hatchet III
Birdman of Alcatraz
Pacific Rim: Uprising
Wonderstruck
If It Ain't Stiff, It Ain't Worth a Fuck
Nun, The
Red Sparrow
My Friend Dahmer
Journeyman
Heat, The
   
 
Newest Articles
The Ultimate Trip: The Original Psychedelic Movies
Players of Games: Willy Wonka, Tron and Ready Player One
What Am I Doing Hangin' 'Round? The Ends of The Monkees
Flings and Arrows: Conquest vs Flesh + Blood
Orson Around: F for Fake and The Late Great Planet Earth
ITC What You Did There: Retro-Action on Blu-ray
And It Was the Dirtiest Harry We Have Seen in a Very Long Time: The Dirty Harry Series
Manor On Movies: The Astounding She Monster
Manor On Movies: Don't be a dolt. That's not a cult (movie)
Wes Anderson's Big Daddies: Steve Zissou and Others
Bad Taste from Outer Space: Galaxy of Terror and Xtro
A Yen for the 1990s: Iron Monkey and Satan Returns
Hey, Punk: Jubilee and Rock 'n' Roll High School
Help! with The Knack: Richard Lester in 1965
Roll Up, Get Yer Free Cinema: The Shorts on the BFI Woodfall Blu-rays
   
 
  It Happened Here I Hate A Man In UniformBuy this film here.
Year: 1965
Director: Kevin Brownlow, Andrew Mollo
Stars: Pauline Murray, Sebastian Shaw, Bart Allison, Reginald Marsh, Frank Bennett, Derek Milburn, Nicolette Bernard, Nicholas Moore, Rex Collet, Michael Passmore, Peter Dyneley, Barrie Pattison, Honor Fearson, Ronald Phillips, Frank Gardner, Bertha Russell
Genre: War, Science Fiction
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: In 1940, with the Second World War barely a year old, the British forces were defeated by the Nazis at the Battle of Dunkirk, and as Britain tried to rescue the survivors, the Germans seized their chance and invaded in their wake, leaving the island nation at the mercy of The Third Reich. Naturally, there was a Resistance movement which did their best to fend off the invaders, but their efforts were largely futile when the war machine from the Continent became entrenched there, and the Occupation became a way of life for much of England. One citizen was Pauline (Pauline Murray), a district nurse who was faced with the choice: collaborate or starve.

The story behind It Happened Here was almost as remarkable as what ended up on the screen in the finished article. It was started in 1956 by two English teenagers with a great interest in military history, future crusading silent film preserver Kevin Brownlow and future historian and military advisor on films Andrew Mollo, but by the time it was completed and released it was eight years later and they were young men with some bitter experience of the movie industry. Notoriously, though the film quickly amassed a strong following wherever it was shown, they never saw any profit from it, the costs of distribution and publicity eating up any money that might have put it in the black.

Even that far after the end of the war, it proved controversial nonetheless, mostly thanks to its perceived antisemitism. This was tribute to its disturbing authenticity, and one scene in particular where the directors interviewed actual British fascists and edited them into a sequence positing the much-beleaguered Pauline trying to get some sense out of her new masters, and the British collaborators who had not resisted the invasion, but embraced it. That there were still people with those views that far after the fact who must have been aware of the devastation that the conflict brought was unforgivable: that it remains relevant to this day sustains its discomfort in watching.

That was just one part, lasting a couple of minutes, of a work that applied itself to its task with the enthusiasm of a weekend battle re-enactor, with a special interest in creating realistic images through the simple trick of having many of the cast (among them, countless volunteers who were paid nothing) wear uniforms from the forties, and newly-created variations that occupied citizens would be forced to put on for their jobs under the Nazis. Pauline, who flees a massacre in her village to go to London, signs up to be a nurse and has a black uniform of her own, but we are never sure precisely how far she is committing to the ideals of the totalitarian government and how far she wishes to resist herself, with the stark conclusion that it didn't matter either way for she had no say in the matter.

Although as a plot, following Pauline through the mid-forties (Murray was a doctor's wife who dabbled in acting, and since she was available became the de facto star, never appearing in anything else), It Happened Here was episodic and suffered from a stop-start construction, where it truly scored was in illustrating what would have happened to the United Kingdom had the tide of the war gone the other way. Other alternate history pieces, from the original Went the Day Well through to The Man in the High Castle with stops along the way for Star Trek and Doctor Who among many others, prove there is a fascination with the concept that the country was so close to being crushed, and perhaps appeals to a sense of victimhood that the politically engaged only do so when feeling oppressed, despite that not being accurate. But nothing in those glossier productions ever captured the bleakness of this, which if it were more than a cult movie would put off other filmmakers ever entertaining the idea: it's that disquieting, and in places, harrowing.

[Those extensive BFI Blu-ray/DVD features in full:

Presented in High Definition and Standard Definition
Mirror on the World (1962, 10 mins): full version of fake German newsreel
It Happened Here: Behind the Scenes (1956-66, 22 mins): previously unseen footage with new commentary by Kevin Brownlow
Original UK and US trailers (1966)
It Happened Here Again (1976, 7 mins): excerpt from a documentary on Winstanley
Interview excerpt with the directors (2009, 2 mins)
The Conquest of London (1964/2005, 4 mins): Italian TV item
On Set With Brownlow and Mollo (2018, 12 mins): interview with Production Assistant Johanna Roeber
Kevin Brownlow Remembers It Happened Here (2018, 65 mins)
Image gallery
Introduction to How It Happened Here: text of David Robinson's foreword to the book (Downloadable PDF DVD only)
Illustrated booklet with writing by Kevon Brownlow and new essays by Dr Josephine Botting, DoP Peter Suschitzky and military historian E W W Fowler.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 77 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which film has the best theme song?
Spectre
The Ups and Downs of a Handyman
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Robert Segedy
Darren Jones
  Asma Amal
  Chris Lawrence
Enoch Sneed
George White
Stately Wayne Manor
   

 

Last Updated: