Can It Happen Here? Too Late: Brownlow and Mollo’s Speculative Newsreel It Happened Here – 35mm Screening

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $5 • NEIU Students: $2

Wednesday, July 12 @ 7:30 PM
Directed by Kevin Brownlow & Andrew Mollo • 1964
What if the Nazis had invaded Britain after the retreat from Dunkirk? As an opening title establishes, this is the world of It Happened Here: Britain, 1944, occupied by the Nazis. As U.S.-backed partisans attempt to take England back from fascist control, nurse Pauline Murray is evacuated from her village to the demilitarized city of London. Director Kevin Brownlow started the project as a teenager with help from friend, fellow teenager, and history buff Andrew Mollo. Over an eight-year production schedule, the two managed to complete It Happened Here on a microscopic budget without recourse to stock footage, finishing the film with raw stock donated by Stanley Kubrick from the production of Dr. Strangelove. The high-contrast photography is a perfect match for British newsreels of the period, as would be expected for any effort from future film scholar and preservationist Brownlow (The Parade’s Gone By), but everything here is a skillful recreation utilizing legions of amateur volunteer actors, including real British anti-Semites. Even leading lady Pauline Murray was an amateur actress, essentially playing herself after working as a nurse during World War II. The guilelessness Murray brings to the role keeps the film’s ethics from being black-and-white: as Pauline seeks normalcy amidst violence, no choice is as morally straightforward as the government of her world (or ours) might like us to believe. The film’s polemical vision of a Fascist “new normal” feels particularly relevant given the resurgence of far-right ideologies in the U.S. and Europe. (JR)
96 min • Rath Films • 35mm from Milestone Films
Film Stock: Eastman B+W (1996)
  Preceded by: Selected Cartoon

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