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Comic Book: When the Wind Blows
"The powers that be will get to us in the end."
Jim Bloggs

When The Wind Blows is a 1982 comic book and 1986 animated film written by Raymond Briggs. There was also a BBC Radio adaptation of the original comic. It concerns the Bloggses, a mildly dim but cheerful elderly English couple, and their preparations for an imminent nuclear war. This war commences mid-story, and the focus switches on their efforts at keeping a stiff upper lip while waiting for help, all the while succumbing to radiation sickness.

A classic weapon of the anti-nuclear weapon movement, When The Wind Blows uses its bright colours, eccentric characters and art style similar to Briggs's classic children story The Snowman to hammer home the horrors of nuclear war, and make dark satire about government leaflets advising how best to survive a nuclear attack. Naturally, its child-like style in both art and the characters' personalities make it one of the more famous examples to come from the Animation Age Ghetto.

Not to be confused with the novel by James Patterson.

When The Wind Blows provides examples of:

  • Accidental Pun: Done several times, and not for comedy, since Everybody's Dead, Dave.
    • Hilda: He may be closed due to the bomb, dear.
      Jim: What, old Sponge? Heh heh. Miss a day's trade? Oh not him. He'd rather die.
    • Jim: The milkman's not been yet. He's late.
    • Jim: Ron will be all right. He won't go to pieces. The whole family will stick together.
  • Break the Cutie: The Bloggses are perfectly nice and harmless people, but Mutally Assured Destruction and radiation poisoning don't care about that. Eventually becomes a case of Kill the Cutie.
  • Catch Phrase:
    • "It's the correct thing!"
    • "Crumbs!"
    • "The powers that be will get to us in the end."
  • Cosy Catastrophe: Deconstructed.
  • Despair Event Horizon: When Hilda's hair starts to fall out.
  • Doomed Protagonist: In an anti-war comic/film like this, what would you expect?
  • Downer Ending: First Hilda, and then Jim inevitably succumb to radiation sickness in the days following the bombing.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Deliberately invoked. Jim's slavish devotion to following the government advice regardless of how self-contradictory it is results in all the flaws in it being fully exposed. Hilda spots a few of the flaws as well (How are you supposed to close the doors to prevent fire spreading if you've used them to build your Inner Core Or Refuge? How are you supposed to get a whole family into a makeshift shelter that can barely hold two pensioners?), but they both just brush them off.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: Implied; after the bomb drops, the Bloggses find no other sign of human life and it is unknown if there are other survivors elsewhere. Though, we don't know if that is just England or, at least, that part of England and we see no other survivors besides these two but we do hear a dog howling at brief point when they are outside after the bomb goes off, also, we do see a bird attempting to fly when it pans to the devastated city and a couple of rats at different points of the film.
  • Filk Song: "When the Wind Blows" by David Bowie (made for the movie, see Pop-Star Composer below), and "When the Wild Wind Blows" by Iron Maiden (which replaces the ending with the couple mistaking an earthquake for a nuclear bomb and killing themselves).
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: "Don't you dare start stimulating, James! I'm not in the mood!"
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Being kindly English folk, the strongest language used in the comic is "Blimey!". In the film, on the other hand, James calls Hilda a "stupid bitch" to hurry her into the inner core or refuge once the nukes start coming down. This has the effect of slowing her down as she stops to demand an apology.
  • Idiot Ball: Partially due to not taking the whole thing seriously at first, and partially due to not fully understanding the concept of radiation, and simply misunderstanding the pamphlets leads the Bloggses to make some big mistakes. It only makes the situation that much more tragic, although the fact that their house was caught in the blast made their death by fallout extremely likely anyway.
  • Ill Girl: Both Jim and Hilda falling ill of radiation sickness.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Jim and Hilda were good looking when they younger and quite cute as children.
  • Malaproper: Jim Bloggs does this a lot in regards to modern warfare and politics. For example, assuming that all the major decisions by the Powers That Be are handled by "commuters" (computers).
  • Mood Whiplash: The cheery approach the Bloggses take to the whole thing is made more heart wrenching as the story keeps cutting to the enemy preparing to launch the nuke, letting the reader/watcher know that yes, there is indeed a nuke coming. Even after the nuke comes, the Bloggses cling to their Cosy Catastrophe memories of surviving World War II and try to remain optimistic about the whole thing.
  • A Nuclear Error: Done on purpose, as the Bloggses don't quite understand the full effects of the bomb.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Jim is a decent chap who who wouldn't dream of being rude to his wife. When they hear the four minute warning that the missiles have been launched, Hilda fails to grasp the seriousness of the situation, decides to get the washing in and dithers about the cakes in the oven, panicking Jim so much that he shouts "Get in the shelter, you stupid bitch!"
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog
  • Skewed Priorities: "The cake will be burned!"
  • Stiff Upper Lip: Deconstructed.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: The characters first appeared in an earlier work of Briggs's, Gentleman Jim. Apparently they were so well-received he brought them back—only to kill them off in a nuclear apocalypse!
  • Too Dumb to Live: Though they are more naive than dumb, the Bloggses, especially Hilda, just have no grip whatsoever on the true implications of "the bomb" being dropped. Yes, they do fail to survive.
  • Truth in Television: There actually were government leaflets on how to survive a nuclear attack. Pretty much everything they do (when following it, at least) is exactly what the leaflet said one should do.
    • Also, more importantly the symptoms the Bloggses suffer from are the actual symptoms of radiation sickness that align with real accounts.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: The Bloggses. Mostly Jim, though. It's surprising how they are mostly optimistic about the whole thing, save for a few worries here and there.
  • World War III: Takes place in the middle of the story.

Tropes specific to the animated film include:

  • Dark Reprise: The music to the rhyme on which the title is based shows up, sometimes to horrifying effect.
  • Double Meaning: Once the Blogges' health has declined far past the point of denial, Hilda suggests they pray. Jim, unable to think clearly, asks, "who to?" One gets the impression the question has meaning beyond his sickness-induced absent-mindedness.
  • Deranged Animation: The nuclear attack. In the comic, possibly even more terrifying, the two pages after the bomb are almost entirely white.
  • Pop-Star Composer: Roger Waters did the score, David Bowie wrote the title song, and Genesis, Squeeze and Paul Hardcastle appear in the score too.
  • Shout-Out: During their telephone conversation James' son quotes a line from Tom Lehrer's song "We All Will Go Together When We Go".

VizBritish ComicsWhizzer and Chips
VampFilms of the 1980sWho is Julia?
We're Back! A Dinosaur's StoryAnimated FilmsWinnie the Pooh

alternative title(s): When The Wind Blows; When The Wind Blows
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