Movie Review: How I Won The War

I don't understand British movies from the 1960s. They often seem to be completely devoid of coherent plot. Things just happen with little regard for whether they make narrative sense. Much like The Magic Christian, this is a loose series of anarchic sketches strung together on a flimsy pretence. The audience, I think, is either supposed to be bewildered or stoned out of their minds.

It quite often descends into shouting and chaos. With little chance for the audience to catch their breath and understand what's going on.

For all that - it has remarkable flashes of genius. Each actor seems to be in a completely different film from the others - which leads to some impressive context switching, often within the same shot. Michael Crawford is a kinetic delight - and the whole cast play their parts with aplomb.

The comedy is never really funny enough to complement the sudden shift in tone when characters die. It is shocking, and bloody, and grim, and touching - but it doesn't contrast well enough with the "zany" antics of the squad.

I don't think the British ever really recovered from winning the second World War. Very few of the movies made immediately afterwards celebrate heroism and daring-do. Instead, the constant motif is being baffled that the inept and chaotic control structure was even close to a match for the enemy's zeal and efficiency. "How I Won The War" is a study in the monstrous indifference of the caste-system.

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