War Game Movie Poster Image

War Game

Tragic WWI Christmas story with profound themes.
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 29 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Beyond the divisions of war and battles between countries and their armies, there is a shared humanity that unites us all.

Positive role models

Will learns to see the humanity in the enemy he has been sent to fight.


While not graphic, the violence and horror of war is strongly implied. There are sounds and images of machine gun fire, bombs, and injured soldiers.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters are shown smoking cigarettes and pipes in a historically accurate setting. While an officer talks on the telephone, there is a close-up of the phone, with a bottle of booze and a half-filled glass next to it.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that War Game is not a typical holiday story and those looking for a feel-good tale will be disappointed. The beautifully told short animated film is set during World War I and serves as a comment on war and humanity. While there is no graphic violence, much of the action is set in the trenches; there is gunfire, rats, bombs, and casualties. The subject matter could be too intense for younger viewers, but for those mature enough to comprehend the deeper meanings of Christmas and peace, War Game should provoke discussion about history, warfare, Christmas, and how the three are often conveyed in popular culture.

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What's the story?

It is the beginning of World War I. Will and Freddie live in the English Countryside, two teenagers happy to live on a farm with their parents and play soccer with their friends. But when their country declares war against Germany, they feel the call to duty just like the rest of their friends. Despite the protestations of their mother (Kate Winslet), Will and Freddie enlist and end up in the trenches of France. They learn the harsh realities of war, but when a German soldier on Christmas day leaves his trench to start a soccer game between the two rival armies, Will and Freddie jump at the chance to forget about war and fighting, no matter how bleak each army's future seems.

Is it any good?


WAR GAME stands apart from other stories set at Christmas in that it conveys a profound message about the true meaning of Christmas without sentimentality. In less than half an hour, this animated film presents deep lessons on the realites of war, what Christmas represents, and a historical snapshot of trench warfare in World War I. That being said, War Game is excellent, but is not typical holiday fare.

Based on a book, the animation is quite distinct, and goes far to contrast the innocent pleasures of youth with the horrors of war creating a deeply moving experience.


Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how warfare is represented in this film. How accurate do you believe this film depicts the realities of war, and how does it compare to other films about war?

  • What are some of the ways the film presents its underlying themes? How does the animation affect the story?

Movie details

DVD/Streaming release date:September 21, 2004
Cast:Ben Warwick, Iain Jones, Kate Winslet
Director:Dave Unwin
Studio:Illuminated Film Company
Run time:29 minutes
MPAA rating:PG

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