Gladiatorerna (1969)

GLADIATORERNA (1969)
aka The Gladiators, The Peace Game
Article 4485 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 3-25-2014
Directed by Peter Watkins
Featuring Arthur Pentelow, Frederick Danner, Hans Bendrik
Country: Sweden
What it is: Futuristic drama

In the near future, the governments of the world have abandoned wars in favor of a televised competition known as the Peace Game, in which various teams compete to make their way through a booby-trapped maze.

The idea of replacing war with an organized competition of this sort isn’t really a new concept; what makes this one compelling is the usual documentary-like style that Peter Watkins brings to the story. Which is not to say that the movie is easy to follow; parts of this movie are very difficult to follow, and though it may be a quirk of my print, the fact that goodly portions of the movie are not in English (IMDB lists four other languages) and have no English subtitles make it even more difficult. I do get the sense that the movie takes a very cynical look at the military mindset on hand here, where a compassionate ally is considered a more disgusting threat than the enemy army itself. As a result, despite the complexity of much that is going on, the movie occasionally lapses into being simplistic; I think I’ve encountered this problem with some of Watkin’s movies before, in particular with PUNISHMENT PARK. Still, there is a power to Watkin’s style, and I found the movie compelling, though not up to the level of THE WAR GAME.

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