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Operation Sealion   >   It Happened Here

   
 

It Happened Here


This is a classic film about life in occupied Britain after a successful German invasion in World War II. The film is not so much about the invasion itself, as about what happens afterwards.

The most chilling aspect of the film is the gradual slide towards collaborationism and active involvement in facist activities by both most of the British population as a whole, and by the main character in the film. There is a clear implication that almost everybody is vulnerable to falling under the evil spell of fascism.

The story of how the film was made is also quite interesting. The movie was released in 1966, but work was actually begun 8 years earlier - one of the longest, or perhaps even the longest, production schedule for any film. The film was directed by Kevin Brownlow, who was just 18 when he began work on the movie, and later was to become a prominent film historian. Brownlow was assisted by Andrew Mollo, who was even younger - just 16 - when he started work on the film, and who assisted with the historical details (Mollo later became a military historian). The cast of the film also involved only two professional actors, but hundreds of volunteers. The movie even received some assistance from Stanley Kubrik who donated some film stock. For further information about how the film was made, be sure to read Brownlow's book, How It Happened Here

Although the movie has an anti-fascism and anti-Nazi message, the original version of the film included a controversial seven minute section showing British extreme right-winger Colin Jordan, speaking. This footage was removed in the original release of the film, but restored 30 years later by Brownlow after he regained rights to the movie.

Inevitably, given the nature of the production, some compromises were made during making the film. The film was shot on 16mm and has a somewhat grainy character, additionally the sound quality, especially in the early part of the movie, is not the best. The other criticism that I would make is that the ending, to me, seemed somewhat contrived and unrealistic - but I guess that they needed someway to wrap the film up. These criticisms are however relatively minor - the film is a classic, and one that you will want to see. Like many alternate histories of World War II, it shows you what might have been, and how lucky we are that Nazism was defeated.


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It Happened Here

Directed by Kevin Brownlow
Featuring Sebastian Shaw, Derek Milburn & Bart Allison

Milestone Films
Amazon Video (Drama)

It Happened Here
 

It Happened Here: The Story of Hitler's England [VHS]

Directed by Andrew Mollo
Featuring Bart Allison, Nicolette Bernard & Peter Dineley

Milestone Video
Released: 2001-10-09
VHS Tape

It Happened Here: The Story of Hitler s England [VHS]
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Amazon.com:
British film historian and acclaimed documentarian Kevin Brownlow was only 18 when he teamed up with military history buff Andrew Mollo to make this eerie "what-if" take on WWII. A brief, newsreel-perfect documentary introduction explains that Germany invaded and occupied Britain in 1941. Now, as the war is heating up on the Russian front in 1944, Germany pulls out all but a skeletal force, and the resistance readies itself for an assault. The story is seen from the perspective of an apolitical nurse who all too easily falls under the sway of British Nazi party in an effort to "get Britain on her feet," and we follow her journey from willing collaborator to horrified participant. Brownlow and Mollo use grainy black-and-white footage and hand-held camerawork (courtesy of future David Cronenberg cinematographer Peter Suschitzky) to give a documentary-like reality to the picture, but it's the easy naturalism of German soldiers on London streets and Nazi flags hanging from public buildings that gives the film its unsettling undercurrent. The technique is often primitive and many of the actors show their inexperience with stiff, self-conscious performances, but there's a canny cinematic intelligence behind the camera and the cutting. Produced on a starvation budget over a period of seven years, this is a brave, understated independent production in a time when such cinematic experiments were all but unknown. Brownlow documented the experience in the memoir How It Happened Here. --Sean Axmaker

   


 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
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