Director: Peter Watkins
Year Released: 1964
Watkins uses his pseudo-documentary style to look at one of the most brutal battles in the history of Britain between the Jacobites and the English soldiers as well as the strategic screw-up and the horrific treatment towards the Highlanders by the Royal Army. As always, the style isn't to all tastes - I confess that the amateurish acting and jarring zoom-ins comes across as tacky - but it is a unique way to portray the events, as the documentary-type approach adds a kind of 'distance' that somehow makes the film seem all the more chilling and barbaric. While The War Game and Punishment Park seem reactionary and sensational - particularly because Watkins was trying hard to be 'relevant' and 'timely' in discussing modern issues (in The War Game, he presses his cameras against the burn skin of children; in Punishment Park, he presses his camera against the skin of obnoxious dissidents) - this, I feel, works better because it exists both as a historical recreation and, subtly, as a metaphor for Vietnam. In other words, the more subtle you are, the better....