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Gladiators, The

Director:  Peter Watkins
Year Released:  1969
Rating:  2.0

This is one of those Watkins films that sounds better on paper: the East and West agree to put down their massive weaponry and pit two small forces against each other in a war-like simulation, with each side's generals taking turns maneuvering their troops and strategizing (whilst nibbling on hors d'oeuvres in the safety of a room with TV monitors and computers). Watkins' filmography is filled with movies obsessed with the dynamics of war and conflict, and this one is no different, though the execution leaves much to be desired, as it comes across (as much as Watkins tries to avoid it) as a soap-box rant about how war kills and dehumanizes and how leaders don't care about the well being of their 'underlings' (things I'm assuming his intended audience is already well aware of). The bits with the African-American soldier (and racial taunting) and the revolutionary determined to "destroy the system" are feeble.

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