It Happened Here

It Happened Here

***1/2

Reviewed by: Chris Brooks

It took seven years and countless reels of 16mm film for Kevin Brownlow to finish It Happened Here. Over that time, he recruited hundreds of volunteer amateur actors to fill in as German soldiers and British civilians, very few of whom ever received any remuneration. Since then, It Happened Here has been hailed as one of the all time best war films, which is amazing when you consider the constraints the filmmakers faced.

This is an alternative history of what could have happened if the Germans had invaded Britain after the fall of Dunkirk in 1940. The story centres on a nurse (Pauline Murray), who is forced to leave her home in the country and move to London, when fighting between the Germans and the partisans erupted in the area. Although politically naive, she prefers not to join any of the organisations set up by the occupiers. However, events conspire and, before she knows it, she has changed her mind, siding with the Nazis to create a better, more organised Britain.

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She is thrown into internal conflict, as her only friends are completely against her new employers. Also, there are a large number of spies and collaborators in the city and anybody who doesn't agree with National Socialism, or who harbours sympathies for the partisans, finds themselves being bundled into the back of a Gestapo car. Soon she finds herself on the wrong side of the law and suddenly her life is in danger.

It Happened Here is the product of a time when amateur filmmakers couldn't just pick up a cheap camera that had the same quality as we have in 2006. Brownlow was able to create this classic work, using equipment that would class as antique today, which only adds to the atmosphere of the film. The lack of crystal clear cinematography helps to convey a sense of chaos during the action scenes.

If you like films of the Forties, this is for you; if you like war films, this to is for you. Faults with the sound and the dodgy print can easily be ignored and excused. Overall, this is a scary "what if" story that still has the ability to chill you to the bone.

Reviewed on: 07 Feb 2006
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What if the Germans had occupied England after the fall of Dunkirk...
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