WHEN THE WIND BLOWS (1986)
a 1986 British animated drama film directed by Jimmy Murakami based on Raymond Briggs‘ graphic novel of the same name. The film stars the voices of John Mills and Peggy Ashcroft as the two main characters.
Why was it forgotten?: MOST LIKELY BECAUSE IT’S UNGODLY DEPRESSING.
I’ve only heard of this briefly in passing, and researching and viewing it it made me extremely reluctant to want to feature it on this blog. It does have an interesting history and is artistically significant that I feel as though I have to.
Now, I believe Raymond Briggs needs absolutely no introduction as he’s one of the most celebrated British illustrators of our time.
For those who need a refresher, he’s the dude that created this.
So what is this movie?
In short, it’s a film about an elderly couple that survives a nuclear blast only to spend about 70 minutes of screen time slowly, and painfully dying from radiation sickness. And we get to see every minute of it done in Briggs’s whimsical art style.
Now, what’s the long explanation? Well, you could call this movie a cautionary tale against standard human naivete in how people can be terribly ill-prepared to face disasters, natural or otherwise and thinking everything is going to be okay and resolved quickly.
Usually it doesn’t.
It also illustrates how people can be overly-reliant on the government to take care of them in times of crisis when more often than not they can’t and won’t.
I think at the time of writing this with current events here in America that fact is painfully obvious.
The fact that we see the aftereffects on this poor couple who try to go about their day-to-day business in their destroyed home, and we see how the radiation eats them from the inside-out drives these points home in a way that, in no small words, it feels REAL.
Watching them suffer from beginning to end is just agonizing and it makes even the first viewing of this movie really hard to deal with.
It’s a hard sit… but it’s definitely worth sitting through for the art and animation style, as well as how well it gets its tragic message across.
- When the Wind Blows is a hybrid of drawn animation and stop-motion animation. The characters of Jim and Hilda Bloggs are drawn, but their home and most of the objects in it are real objects that seldom move but are animated with stop motion when they do.
- A subsequent graphic novel by Briggs, Ethel and Ernest (1998), makes it clear that Briggs based the protagonist couple in When the Wind Blows on his own parents.
- The soundtrack album features music by Roger Waters and David Bowie (who performed the title song), Genesis, Squeeze and Paul Hardcastle.
Nothing more needs to be said really, at least there’s nothing I can add that the film doesn’t do on its own.