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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on July 16, 2000
Format: DVD
I'll start off by just mentioning a few minor niggles. Firstly, the film is presented in a TV 4:3 aspect ratio. I don't know what print was available to the DVD's producers, but the original aspect ratio (1.85:1 at a guess) would have been more desirable. The movie's ending is also quite abrupt - I had to look twice when the film's end title appeared. And finally, the 1974 follow-up documentary 'It Happened Here Again' which appears on some VHS versions, is sadly missing from this DVD. Now that's out of the way, please ignore what I've just written as the DVD's good points far outweigh the bad. The film was produced at a time when 'warts and all' realism was the driving force behind many films and TV productions. Thus we see British citizens act as willing collaborators to the Nazi invaders, even up to the point of murdering Jews and the massacre of surrendering German soldiers. This is a constantly thought provoking and conscience testing picture produced by two very talented young film makers. On the technical side, picture quality is superb - slightly grainy but far better than you would expect given the independent nature of the production. The DVD does not contain any special features. I imagine that the DVD's producers thought that the limited appeal of this film did not merit the additional costs involved. Still, this is definitely worth a look for anyone interested in gritty British movies from the 1960's.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 21, 2005
Format: DVD
On a shoestring budget in 1956, directors Kevin Brownlow-now a preeminent film historian-and Andrew Mollo began work as teenagers on their Orwellian "It Happened Here"; with the help of hundreds of volunteers, they completed the film in 1964. In 1966 United Artists released the film with seven minutes of controversial material excised. In this version, Brownlow, having regained the rights to the film, restores the cut sequence-an ad-lib speech by Colin Jordan, head of the British National Socialist movement.

Brownlow and Mollo offer an alternate history of England, a vision of England under Nazi occupation after Germany has won World War II. Their use of grainy black-and-white photography and faux newsreel footage enhances the documentary-like realism.

The story follows an apolitical nurse, Pauline. Accepting a job with the Nazis in London, she comes to apprehend the ramifications of the occupation-radio stations, movies and magazines serving as propaganda organs for the Nazis and goose-stepping schoolchildren. Pauline finds herself caught between the galvanized resistance on one side and on the other, citizens who, for the sake of a quiet life, prefer to acquiesce.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
In 1945, George Orwell wrote defiantly: "Few things in this war have been more morally disgusting than the present hunt after traitors and quislings. It best it is largely a punishment of the guilty by the guilty."

In the same humanistic yet brutally honest vein comes IT HAPPENED HERE, a 1965 "documentary-style" movie which speculates with terrifying frankness what a Nazi occupation of Britain might have been like. No film I've ever seen have addressed the subject of "collaboration" with such unflinching honesty, and I suggest this film is a must-see for those who still glorify the "resistance fighters" of Europe and view with contempt and hatred the everyday people who "volunteered" their services to their conquerers during the Second World War.

IT HAPPENED HERE speculates that the Germans invaded Britain in 1940, conquered the Islands, and set up a puppet government. Sapped by the ravenous demands of the Eastern Front, the Germans leave only a small garrison in Britain and depend largely on British "collaborators" to police the country, run the government, operate the social services, and so on. The film is told from the POV of Pauline, a widowed country nurse who is simply trying to get by in a country where half the buildings are in ruins, partisan warfare rages in the country, and just getting a decent job requires moral compromise.

IT HAPPENED HERE does not have a plot, per se; true to its documentary style it merely follows Pauline as she travels England, looking for work and trying with pathetic dignity to avoid taking a "side" either for the puppet government or the ruthless and ham-fisted partisan movement that opposes it. Every frame of the film hammers home the impossibility of living under occupation: Forced to join a collaborationist organization just to work, Pauline is ostracized by her friends (one of the movie's best scenes is an argument between Pauline and her doctor friend about the morality of fascism, collaboration and resistance), and yet her own sense of personal decency makes her a pariah among her new comrades. This ultimately leads to her being banished to the country, where what seems like an idyllic nursing-home job turns out to be a macabre nightmare. After spending most of the movie on the moral fence, Pauline must now make a consciously political act, but even this gives her no peace. And
in the end, however, the impending "liberation" (accompanied by frenzied radio broadcasts no less chilling than their Nazi counterparts) promises a classic British recipe: meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

IT HAPPENED HERE is brutally frank in its examination of what happens to ordinary people in impossible circumstances, and how war and occupation are machines for debasing human nature. The people we meet are a mix of fanatics, time-servers, patriots, cynics, and fair-weather sailors -- in other words, everyday folks who discover in extremis what kind of people they really are, and what they will (or won't) do for a soft bed, hot food and chance to live another day. The film's climactic scene, which features a vicious massacre of British SS volunteers (in the "Black Prince" volunteer SS division -- nice touch!) at the hands of the partisans while their German SS officers are allowed to honorably surrender, well demonstrates the doctor's schizoid (but possibly correct) view that "the horrible thing about fascism is you have to use fascist methods to destroy it."

I should say that IT HAPPENED HERE is frought with the problems which plague low-budget films. There is liberal, if skillful, use of stock footage; the acting is extremely inconsistent, the sound quality (especially at the beginning) is bloody hideous, and there is a clumsy amateurishness to some of the production. Getting through the first half-hour of the film isn't easy. But if you do, you will discover a b*llsy and brilliant little gem of a movie, one which has the moral courage to ask the most difficult possible question: "OK, but under those circumstances, what would YOU do?"
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2013
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I bought this years ago on VHS. An almst professinal production by essentially teenagers. Acting is exceptional. A fine addition to the world of alternative histories. A video equivalent to novels like "SSGB" and "Fatherland."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
IT HAPPENED HERE is one of the most chilling and controversial films never to hit the public consciousness. It is the brainchild of Kevin Brownlow and Andrew Mollo who spent eight years on the tightest of budgets to shoot an alternate history of the second world war. The Germans invaded England in 1940 and occupied it shortly. The viewer sees the action under a grainy style of camera work that might have been dictated by financial necessity but disturbingly original for that. Much of the film is a series of vignettes that portray life in England under Nazi rule. We see women and children machine gunned by grinning SS guards. We see the dirty grind of life under the jackboot. As I got involved in the story, I soon realized that these vignettes were to form a subtext that would become clear as the plot began to revolve slowly around an unemployed nurse (Pauline Murray) who needed to overcome her apolitical stance to join a nursing organization that was run by British traitors wearing SS style black uniforms. At first she tells herself that Britain has somehow to regroup itself and her being able to practice her profession must be a part of that. She even tells herself that it is morally acceptable to turn a blind eye and deaf ear to the very atrocities that the viewer encounters. And it is precisely here that Brownlow and Mollo make their telling point that to acquiece to evil is to join that evil. Pauline now wears the black uniform of her nursing regiment. Still, she cannot so easily shed her morality. What we find astonishing and ultimately depressing are the numbers of fellow Brits who have no such difficulty. The numbers of German speaking soldiers are in the minority. Far more ubiquitous are the native English who can mouth phrases and philosophy that might have flowed from the vilest of anti-semitic propaganda films. Brownlow and Mello allow these English ample screen time to spout their obscenities all the while slowly pointing toward the moral regeneration of nurse Pauline. There is another subtext that is equally disturbing. While Pauline is discussing how close she came to being shot by British rebels fighting the Nazis, the man to whom she is speaking startles her by replying that to fight fascists one must fight like them. This second subtext reappears during the closing scenes which suggest that the easier it is for one to do that, the closer one is to the fascist himself and hence the less human one truly is. It is impossible to view IT HAPPENED HERE without the sobering realization that the events of this movie happened more than a few times in more than a few countries. This then is the inner lesson of what happens to the easily malleable who find that the act of putting on a uniform changes more than one's appearance.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2005
Format: DVD
If you liked Len Deighton's detective thriller, "SS GB", set in Nazi-conquered England, you might enjoy "It Happened Here." To my way of thinking, this black-and-white film has the feel of a documentary. Its story of one person's realization of the creeping social evil in which she now lives is at once riveting and chilling.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 24, 2013
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
A first time director, with a cast of non pros have made a film that still stands up after 40 years.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 22, 2012
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
An excellent movie !!! A great alternate history storyline as well as the concept of an ordinary person (Pauline an Irish Nurse) trying to survive and not get involved when events tend to involve her whether she likes it or not. It gives a very real picture of what it must have been like for those countries that were occupied during the war (France; etc) and how often the "War of Liberation" could be in effect a civil war. Lots of great military scenes involving uniforms and vehicles of all sorts as well realistic looking para-military/political uniforms. A must for those who like military drama & history. The quality of the DVD was good, it has scene selections but no extras which is a bit of shame. A "making of" documentary, maybe an audio narration option by Andrew Mollo and Kevin Brownlow (I think) assuming they are still alive, would have been nice. As well as some production/behind the scenes stills. But nonetheless it's still a great film and a highly underrated masterpiece !
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on July 4, 2014
Format: DVD
This is a film - a docudrama of sorts - built around the premise of what life would have been like in Nazi-occupied Britain. The film is set in 1944/1945, four years after the successful invasion. Britain is ruled by a fascist-regime that is very similar to Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists from the 1930s. The ongoing war in Russia has depleted the occupying German forces to units that support or maybe are augmented by Britons. The USA has entered the war against Germany and is regularly attacking the UK , as well as supporting guerilla groups. By and large, the situation is similar to what actually occurred in France and was portrayed in Len Deighton's historical crime novel `SS-GB;' that is to say, most of the population resent the occupation but do little or nothing about it.

The story is told from the viewpoint of Pauline Murray, a nurse who is both naïve and apolitical. Driven from her village by soldiers seeking to create a free-fire zone and an attack by partisans, Murray ends up staying with a friend in London while seeking employment. Eventually, she a position with Immediate Action (IA), the British fascist entity that administers the occupation. Through a series of vignettes, we see Pauline embrace the IA because it brings order, then begin to doubt her decision after her actions lead to the arrest of some friends who were harboring a wounded partisan. She is sent from London to a clinic in the country where - instead of treating foreign workers (read slaves) with tuberculosis - she is involved in a euthanasia program. She tries to leave but is arrested. While being taken to London for trial and presumably execution, the train is attacked by a mixed group of partisans and US and Free British troops.

While tending wounded of all sides, a surrender of German and collaborator forces is effected. Unknown to her - and with the apparent approval of the regular military - the prisoners are executed by the partisans in a scene similar to one at the start of the film.

It Happened Here was released in 1964 after eight years of production. It was made by two teenagers, Kevin Brownlow and Andrew Mollo, with a cast of amateurs. It was not received with anything like universal aclaim. In fact, it was shunned by many because two issues. Its radical, at least for the time, view the public reaction to an occupied Britain would be a generally apathetic acceptance did not sit well with the public. However, in retrospect, it's quite likely, maybe certain, this is what would have happened. This scenario is what took place on the Channel Islands, part of the UK that was invaded and occupied during the war.

But, a far more explosive reaction came from a relatively short segment in which some of the new IA recruits ask questions of two senior IA members regarding their views on capitalism and Jews. The comments made by these two are typical of what one might expect from anti-Semites. The surprise is that the two men were really British neo-fascists! But, the uproar over their comments came from quaretrs claiming the film was anti-Semitic. My opinion of the segment was - especially in view of the stupidity of the speakers and their mouthing of rhetoric - that it validated the horror of what Nazism was.

So, from a premise point of view, the movie is excellent.

From the production side, the film is less successful. Early on, there is a little too much of `film school' shots, such as close-ups of eyes transitioning to pan-outs to signify terror and tension This may be attributable to the youth of the two involved as this sort of stuff is gone in the latter stages of the film. The sound quality is not the best in the first half either. It's hard to understand what is being said. As the problem disappears in the back-end of the film, it may be the case that better equipment wwas being used.

There's also a bit of story-line continuity issue making the last twenty minutes of the film seem jumpy and truncated. It's never made clear if the US/UK solders are a raiding party or an invasion force. Nor is it clear if the surrender is local and nationwide. There are a series of radio broadcasts, attributed to a `Free Britain' broadcasting station that implies it is the latter, however. Perhaps more time should have been spent on this closing, particularly as the bounding the movie with two mass-killings by the opposing sides left a "meet the new boss, same as the old boss" feel.

After having heard about this moves for decades, I'm glad I got to see it. Though not without faults, it's amazing work considering its genesis.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
If you don't read the description for this movie before watching it, then you will find it difficult to understanding what is happening while watching it.

Even if you do read the description before watching the movie, you will still find it difficult to know what is happening and why (or who the characters are, what they are doing, and why).

The movie is about 1.5 hours long. After 30 minutes, I turned it off.

Before renting or buying it, do a search for "It Happened Here trailer" and view the trailer.

This movie is not even worth renting. It reminded me of a low budget, low quality flick.

Visit my Amazon wish lists to see my 4-star and 5-star military/war DVDs:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/3DU5CH5ZFWRNI/
http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/24H8TDYHFDOET/
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