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When the Wind Blows

When the Wind Blows (1986)

October. 24,1986
| Animation Science Fiction War

With the help of government-issued pamphlets, an elderly British couple build a shelter and prepare for an impending nuclear attack, unaware that times and the nature of war have changed from their romantic memories of World War II.


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When the Wind Blows is a 1986 animated disaster film based on a graphic novel by Raymond Briggs, who was also known for the Snowman. The movie's about an elderly British couple - James and Hilda Bloggs respectively - who live out in Sussex, England, on the countryside. Meanwhile, a war is raging between the United States and the Soviet Union. When it was announced that war could be expected within three days, Jim builds a fall out shelter from his door, and buys several pamphlets that the government had distributed concerning the upcoming attack. The couple had been through the likes of WWII, so they are fully convinced that after the war is over, everything will go back to normal. Unfortunately, they don't really have much knowledge on the prospect of nuclear missiles and the impending fallout. The missile drops in the middle of the film, obliterating everything in its path. The Bloggs survive seemingly unscathed, but for how long? The book was written during a time where the threat of nuclear war was much too real. It tried to convey that in the event of a nuclear holocaust, you'd rather it that you get killed immediately by the heat of the blasts. If you were to win the worst lottery ever and end up surviving, your expectancy is limited as your food supply dwindles, and the water is most likely saturated in radiation. Worse yet, you could begin to feel the symptoms of radiation sickness making your death slow and painful. The Bloggs are a likable couple; they're funny, they genuinely love each other regardless of not seeing eye to eye much on some opinions, and they are funny; really, it's their light-hearted naivety that makes the overall tragedy of the film more pronounced. When the radiation sickness begins to set in, the last few hours of the film are of you watching this couple that you had come to love slowly die from radiation sickness, and there isn't anything you can do about it. These characters wouldn't as much as hurt a fly, and yet, they will still die anyway, because it is next to impossible to maintain the extremity of a nuclear holocaust. For whatever reason - most likely a feeble attempt to maintain face from the reality of their situation - the couple attributes each symptom of the illness to old age. The film ultimately ends with them returning to their shelter and praying whilst death comes to collect them.The movie is done in traditional hand-drawn animation as well as claymation to give the film its surreal atmosphere. As the Bloggs are hand-drawn, anything that they grab onto immediately changes into a traditional style to match the character design. The animation is eerily similar to the Snowman which can be bad as it would lead to the assumption that the film is targeted towards a young audience when its subject matter is too mature for them to comprehend fully. However, you could say that the reason for the animation style is to show how life can change with just the push of a button; whatever was beautiful and well-furnished would immediately blacken and go up in flames, heavily resembling many's interpretation of the apocalypse. The actors who played the protagonists also do a good job with making their characters seem realistic. At some points, they could even pass themselves off as if they had been married for years. Lastly, the music is great. Besides the opening title that was sung by the late David Bowie, there are also musical scores that fit the scenes swimmingly. When the bomb goes off, the music becomes louder and sinister to emphasize the fact that the world as we know it is coming to an end. The music that begins to play the moment that the elderly couple realize they're dying is also haunting and depressing. While the film is dark and depressing, it served its purpose. The film is a warning about the likelihood of a nuclear war happening. If a nuclear war were to happen, the government is powerless to sustain the extremities of the blasts, and those that are morally upright and wouldn't hurt a fly will nevertheless still die. In the event of a nuclear war, there is little to no hope of recovery. I recommend this film to anyone who watches apocalyptic films or anti-war films. For films that are similar to When the Wind Blows, I would suggest checking out Barefoot Gen and Studio Ghibli's Grave of the Fireflies. The latter is bound to make you feel miserable. However, if you are in a happy mood, by all means, do NOT watch When the Wind Blows. It is a truly haunting film, but one that will leave a huge impression on you.


As a huge fan of animated (especially 2D animated) films, it's safe to say that I've seen many, both aimed at children, and not so much. I have never seen a film quite like this one. Yeah, there is Grave Of The Fireflies, but... This movie is just... Different. It was heart breaking seeing this elderly couple, so innocent and optimistic having their everyday normal lives obliterated along with everything else a nuclear bomb is capable of destroying. People have commented on how stupid the elderly couple was portrayed in the film, but I felt that they were more depicted as being simply unaware of how big their situation really was, as well as slightly in denial and simply trying to keep calm, trying to go about their used-to-be normal lives to feel okay again. Of course they probably had never experienced anything like that, they didn't know what was coming. But it came alright. And when the bomb was dropped in that film, it was a huge, heart wrenching slap in the face that crap just got... Real.


Plot: An elderly couple, living in rural England, survive the detonation of a nuclear weapon by stubbornly, loyally, and naively following government-issued pamphlets and publications. While they survive the initial blast, it takes its toll on the lovely married couple, with devastating results.Acting: The acting is phenomenal! It's no wonder that the two lead voice-over actors are so well known and renowned in the U.K.! Their performances grant the appearance of being anyone's grandparents, which leads directly to the sadness of the film.Special Effects/Animation: The mix of stop-motion animation, live-action stock-footage, and standard animation, lend a sort of "childish" cinematography to the proceedings; not that I wish to imply that the quality of the cinematography is poor. Rather, it appears to be just like any other Saturday-morning cartoon from the 1980s. This further adds to the despair and hopelessness of the characters, as radiation-poisoning takes its inevitable toll.Overall: This film is, by and large, one of the most haunting, depressing--yet undeniably effective--"post-nuclear" fiction movies ever made. It is my belief that this film should be shown at every middle school, high school, and college on the face of this Earth, if only at least for the phenomenal animation that it contains. The sadness caused by the film (and by the knowledge that the elderly couple really never had a chance) has truly made quite an impression on me! Certainly, this "Wind" does not blow (if you get my drift): I give it a 10 out of 10!


If there's one movie on my list of favourite animated films, this is what I'd pick. A fantastic animated flick starring none other than Sir John Mills and Dame Peggy Ashcroft that deals with with the threat of a nuclear holocaust. It's like this, Jim Bloggs goes home on a bus to his wife and prepare a scrumptious British meal of sausages and chips, but that's not so peaceful after it turns out nuclear war is about to break out (in the film, I mean) in two or three days time. Jim jumps up in shock and exclaims "Crumbs! This is it, ducks." and over the next couple of days gets the work for a fallout shelter done, well not necessarily done, but what they think is done. Of course, they rely on "Protect and Survive", which I'm not entirely sure was completely reliable in the Cold War, and presume that just because a rescue brigade took care of citizens in the second World War, it will be the same for this one. Then it happens! The missile comes and totally destroys the countryside, blinding car drivers and blowing buildings apart. But that's not the worst part, instead it's when Jim and Hilda decide to go outside in attempts to harvest and keep popping out of their shelter so often, that they develop radiation sickness. So, I first watched the film on the internet when I was 13, now I'm 14, and soon I definitely wish to buy the original VHS on eBay or Amazon so my classmates can see it. BTW, the nuclear attack scene really gave me the shivers first time I saw it.