When the Wind Blows (1986 film)

When the Wind Blows is a 1986 British adult animated disaster film directed by Jimmy Murakami based on Raymond Briggs' graphic novel of the same name. The film stars the voices of John Mills and Peggy Ashcroft as the two main characters and was scored by Roger Waters. The film recounts a rural English couple's attempt to survive a nearby nuclear attack and maintain a sense of normality in the subsequent fallout and nuclear winter.[3]

When the Wind Blows
Directed byJimmy T. Murakami[1]
Written byRaymond Briggs
Based onWhen the Wind Blows
by Raymond Briggs
Produced byJohn Coates[1]
Edited byJohn Cary
Music byRoger Waters
Distributed by
Release dates
  • 24 October 1986 (1986-10-24) (United Kingdom)
  • 25 July 1987 (1987-07-25) (Japan)
  • 11 March 1988 (1988-03-11) (United States)
Running time
84 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office$5,274[2]

Plot edit

Jim Bloggs and his wife Hilda are an elderly couple, living in an isolated cottage in rural Sussex, in southeast England. Jim frequently travels to the local town to read newspapers and keep abreast of the deteriorating international situation regarding the Soviet–Afghan War, which is threatening to escalate into an all-out nuclear conflict between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union. Hearing a radio news report stating that a war may be only days away, Jim follows the instructions outlined in the government-issued Protect and Survive pamphlets to build a fallout shelter, including covering the windows with white paint and readying sacks to lie down in when a nuclear strike hits. Despite apprehension, Jim and Hilda are confident they can survive, as they did the Second World War, and that a Soviet defeat will ensue.

As a radio transmission warns of an imminent ICBM strike, the couple rush to their shelter, just escaping as distant shock waves batter their home. They emerge after a few nights to find that all utilities, services and communications have been destroyed but with a misunderstanding of why their usual services are not functioning, with Jim speculating that most have temporarily ceased due to "wartime measures". Jim and Hilda remain stoic and try to resume their daily routine, preparing tea and dinners on a camping stove, noting numerous errands they will have to run once the crisis passes, and trying to renew their evaporated water stock with rainwater. Jim believes that a rescue operation will soon be launched to help civilians. They venture outside where radioactive ash has blocked out the sun and caused heavy fog. They are oblivious to the dead and dying animals strewn across the landscape, the destroyed buildings of the nearby town and the scorched vegetation outside their cottage. Their initial optimism eventually begins to fade due to the prolonged isolation, lack of food and water, growing radiation sickness, and absence of communication from the authorities.

Jim worries that the Soviet military will soon invade, experiencing a vision where a Soviet soldier breaks into their house. Hilda, whose symptoms are worsening, encounters a rat in the dried toilet, which traumatises her. Coupled with her worsening symptoms - bloody diarrhea, bleeding gums - she begins to lose hope. Jim tries to comfort her, still optimistic that he may be able to get medications for her from the chemist. After a few days, the Bloggs are practically bedridden, and Hilda is despondent when her hair begins to fall out. Jim clings to his belief that emergency services will eventually arrive, but they never do. Near death, Hilda suggests they lie down in the paper sacks. Jim, now resigned to their fate, agrees. As they crawl into the sacks Jim tries reciting prayers, including Psalm 23, but, forgetting the lines, starts to read "The Charge of the Light Brigade", whose militaristic and ironic undertones distress the dying Hilda, who weakly asks him not to continue. Finally, James's voice mumbles away into silence as he finishes the line, "...rode the Six Hundred..."

Outside the shelter, the smoke and ash-filled sky begins to clear, revealing the sun rising through the gloom. As the credits end, a Morse code signal taps out "MAD" - mutual assured destruction.

Cast edit

Production edit

The film was Briggs' second collaboration with TVC, after their efforts with a special based on another work of his, The Snowman, in 1982. It was distributed by Recorded Releasing in the UK, and by Kings Road Entertainment in the United States. A subsequent graphic novel by Briggs, Ethel and Ernest (1998), makes it clear that Briggs based the protagonist couple in When the Wind Blows on his own parents.

When the Wind Blows is a hybrid of traditional and stop-motion animation. The characters of Jim and Hilda Bloggs are hand-drawn, as well as the area outside of the Bloggs' house, but their home and most of the objects in it are real objects that seldom move but are animated with stop motion when they do. The stop motion environments utilised are based on the style used for the Protect and Survive public information films. "Protect And Survive" is also featured as the booklet that Jim takes instructions from to survive the nuclear attack.

The soundtrack album features music by David Bowie (who performed the title song), Roger Waters, Genesis, Squeeze, Hugh Cornwell and Paul Hardcastle.

Reception and legacy edit

When the Wind Blows received positive reviews, currently having an 88% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 8 reviews.[4] Critic Barry Lappin called it "Absolutely brilliant.... It was very subtly done but the message more than gets through well". He explained that the scenes are "more than touching" and encouraged people to watch it to the very end.

Colin Greenland reviewed When the Wind Blows for White Dwarf #85, and stated that "The story of Jim and Hilda Bloggs preparing for the Bomb and trying to get back to normal afterwards is heavy-handed, especially at the end, and would have been better shorter; there are odd continuity problems between the pictures and the dialogue. But it is powerful, ludicrous and shocking. It gets to you. As it ought to."[5]

Soundtrack edit

Originally, David Bowie was supposed to contribute several songs to the soundtrack for the film, but decided to pull out so he could focus on his upcoming album Never Let Me Down, and instead only submitted the title track. Roger Waters was brought in to complete the project instead.[6]

When the Wind Blows
Soundtrack album by
Released16 May 1986
RecordedWinter 1985
LabelVirgin Records
ProducerRoger Waters
David Bowie
Hugh Cornwell
Peter Hammond
Paul Hardcastle
Roger Waters chronology
The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking
When the Wind Blows
Radio K.A.O.S.
Singles from When the Wind Blows
  1. "When the Wind Blows"
    Released: 27 October 1986
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [7]

Track listing edit

All tracks written by Roger Waters and performed by Waters and The Bleeding Heart Band except where noted. On some versions of the album, the Roger Waters tracks are all put into one 24:26 song. The lyrics to the closing song, "Folded Flags", feature a reference to the song "Hey Joe" in the lines "Hey Joe, where you goin' with that gun in your hand?" and "Hey Joe, where you goin' with that dogma in your head?"[8]

  1. "When the Wind Blows" (lyrics: Bowie; music: Bowie, Erdal Kızılçay) – 3:35
  2. "Facts And Figures" (Hugh Cornwell) – 4:19
    • Performed by Hugh Cornwell
  3. "The Brazilian" (Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford) – 4:51
  4. "What Have They Done?" (Chris Difford, Glenn Tilbrook) – 3:39
  5. "The Shuffle" (Paul Hardcastle) – 4:16
    • Performed by Paul Hardcastle
  6. "The Russian Missile" – 0:10
  7. "Towers of Faith" – 7:00
  8. "Hilda's Dream" – 1:36
  9. "The American Bomber" – 0:07
  10. "The Anderson Shelter" – 1:13
  11. "The British Submarine" – 0:14
  12. "The Attack" – 2:53
  13. "The Fall Out" – 2:04
  14. "Hilda's Hair" – 4:20
  15. "Folded Flags" – 4:51

Personnel edit

The Bleeding Heart Band

Home media edit

The film was released on VHS in the United Kingdom by CBS/Fox Video after its theatrical run, and later on laserdisc. After a short theatrical run in the United States in one theatre and grossing $5,274 at the box office in 1988, it was released on VHS by International Video Entertainment and on laserdisc by Image Entertainment. It was released on DVD in 2005 by Channel 4, with 0 region coding: the official UK DVD is still PAL format. The film was re-released on DVD in September 2010, again by Channel 4, it is formatted in NTSC and All region coding. In the United States it was released on Blu-ray on 11 November 2014 by Twilight Time in a limited edition of 3000,[9] and in the United Kingdom, a dual-format release containing both the DVD and Blu-ray version was released on 22 January 2018 by the BFI. Severin Films released another Blu-ray and a DVD of the movie in the United States through their Severin Kids label on 21 April 2020.[10]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b "When the Wind Blows". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 13 July 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  2. ^ "When the Wind Blows (1988) - Box Office Mojo". 22 February 2014. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014.
  3. ^ Lenburg, Jeff (2009). The Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons (3rd ed.). New York: Checkmark Books. p. 241. ISBN 978-0-8160-6600-1.
  4. ^ When the Wind Blows, retrieved 15 January 2019
  5. ^ Greenland, Colin (December 1987). "2020 Vision". White Dwarf (85). Games Workshop: 6.
  6. ^ O'Leary, Chris (2019). Ashes to Ashes The Songs of David Bowie 1976-2016. Repeater Books. ISBN 9781912248308.
  7. ^ "Allmusic review".
  8. ^ "When The Wind Blows lyrics". Roger Waters International Fan Club. Retrieved 17 February 2010.
  9. ^ "When the Wind Blows Blu-ray Release Date November 11, 2014" – via www.blu-ray.com.
  10. ^ When the Wind Blows Blu-ray, retrieved 9 November 2019

External links edit