Review: The Absence of War

Genre: Political Drama

Richard Eyre’s film adaptation of David Hare’s The Absence of War (1995) presents an insightful exploration of what goes on behind the scenes of a British General election. Based on David Hare’s 1993 play of the same name, and adapted by the author, it is based on observations taken from Labour’s defeat in the 1992 election. It feels realistic, and tells a compelling story about politics.

George Jones (John Thaw) plays the leader of a hopeful Labour party in a fictionalised general election. We see him struggle with fellow party members, the media and the state of British politics in an effort to seize the day and win this election for his party.

The Absence of War feels like a hyper-real docu-drama. Using BBC broadcasts, it instantly evokes a very British feel.  It retains its relevance- politics today are becoming increasingly reified. George is a front of a party leader- he has been weakened by years of spin, and laments being able to tell the truth. When he does try to be genuine again, and speak his mind, he falters. This much is clear- even in 1995, this movie shows harshly that there is no place for authenticity in British politics. This message seems to become more relevant every year.