Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

When the Wind Blows



The point of director Jimmy Murakami and screenwriter Raymond Briggs's rather original English animated feature is to get us to think the unthinkable--to imagine the aftereffects of a nuclear holocaust. But rather than force this bitter pill on us, they create a very funny and believable elderly English couple, Jim and Hilda Bloggs. These two are still mired in memories of World War II, but when nuclear war hits they are eager to do all the proper things and to follow the instructions in the government booklets correctly. Rather than stretch this fable out to a global scale, the filmmakers make all their essential points by sticking to this isolated couple in their country cottage, following them step-by-step through the experience. Aided by a realistic style of animation that incorporates some live action, by occasional stylistic changes that allow for more abstraction in some fantasy interludes, and by the expert speaking voices of John Mills and Peggy Ashcroft, the movie succeeds impressively. It's rare that a cartoon carries the impact of a live-action feature without sacrificing the imaginative freedom of the pen and brush, but this one does--and does so well that we are even persuaded to accept the didactic framework. Comedy and horror intertwine in this domestic, kitchen-sink version of Dr. Strangelove, and our involvement in the two characters keeps us helplessly glued to the screen. (Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Friday, February 3, 6:00 and 7:30, and Saturday, February 4, 2:00, 443-3737)

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