Sunday, September 15, 2013

Often wondered why there aren't more alternative-history movies....

Here's one I always wanted to see - It Happened Here, from 1964.

Never even knew there was a movie of Fatherland, one of the more recent fictional stabs at that if-Hitler-had-won hardy perennial.



There was a late 70s TV series - An Englishman's Castle -  based on this scenario, but the idea was that things wouldn't actually be that different. So Germany presided over a sort of European Community, a united Europe. The UK was beset by terrorism, just like it was in the 1970s, but the terrorists were the remnants of the British Resistance and the general public is getting weary with them.


  1. i did read that actually, when it came out. probably got it from the local library. Set in 1942 or something, immediate aftermath of a successful invasion of Britain?

    i also read a really dreadful counterfactual where the war isn't going well for UK and 3rd Reich is rampaging across Europe, but the culmination is that Hitler ends up declaring himself Pope with a view to uniting all of Europe under a new Holy Roman Empire. but this hubris is his downfall.

    There are so many - The Sound of His Horn, the short story "Weihnachtsabend" by Keith Roberts -- both of these present the nazi new order as neo-pagan and neo-medieval as i recall

    The best of them all is probably The Man In the High Castle, P.K. Dick which is too subtle and philosophical (and multi-plotlined maybe) to really work as a film, maybe as a TV series though.

    Seems like alternative-history would lend itself to uncanniness, same-but-different type effects, where it takes you a while to work out what's wrong with this new world. And then the ones set in Medieval-ish worlds like Pavane (Keith Roberts again: Armada conquered England, resulting in a Papacy-dominated world where technological progress was leashed and things like electricity suppressed) would lend itself to a Game of Thrones type treatment.

    Tons of scope for costumes and decor which is what movie makers love these days.

  2. 'It Happened Here' is really, really good.
    It's dramatically really solid, and quite chilling. Lots of trenchant observations about some unsavoury Fascist tendencies the English harbour, but don't like having pointed out to them.
    Worth tracking down - available on DVD here in the UK.

    And Brownlow/Mollo's later film, 'Winstanley' is also excellent: set in the aftermath of the English Civil War, but has some sly commentary on 60/70s counterculture and idealism. The BFI put it out again quite recently.

  3. It Happened Here is incredible, like the comment above I was going to recommend the amazing Winstanley, Jonathan Rosenbaum has written brilliantly about it: