Most cinema is predicated on the not unattractive belief that the movie experience should be pleasant, undemanding and over as quickly as possible. But sometimes, just sometimes, the more effort you put into a film, the more you get out of it. Peter Watkins is celebrated for his groundbreaking BBC films The War Game and Culloden. Since then he's made half a dozen features in Scandinavia, North America and France, some quite brilliant, though none widely seen. Radical in form and content, his work has been shunned by broadcasters and distributors alike. Commissioned by the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society to make a global peace film in 1983, Watkins shot more than 100 hours of footage, most of it conversations with ordinary people. He cut the film into 19 units, each lasting up to 45 minutes (a lesson period in Sweden), with a view to making it available to schools. But, with only a few exceptions, schools haven't shown the film, and nor has anyone else - The Journey has only had two British public screenings, 15 years after it premiered at the Edinburgh Film Festival. The film runs for 14 and a half hours and encompasses material from Scandinavia, Britain, North America, Mozambique, Germany, Poland, the former USSR, Polynesia, Japan, Australia, Mexico. It is about the nuclear nightmare, the Cold War, Hiroshima, Hamburg, education, politics, information. Completed in 1987, just before the Berlin Wall came down, it's as relevant as you like. And it might even change your life.
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