When London is overwhelmed by food riots caused by a global famine, a man tries to lead his family to safety in Scotland. No Blade of Grass is a 1970 British-American apocalyptic science fiction film directed by Cornel Wilde and starring Nigel Davenport, Jean Wallace and John Hamill. It is an adaptation of the novel that first appeared under the title of The Death of Grass by John Christopher.
A strange new virus has appeared, which only attacks strains of grasses such as wheat and rice, and the world is descending into famine and chaos. London is on the verge of being quarantined, and there are rumors that the population will be gassed so as to conserve vital supplies for those ‘less expendable’. A biologist, and architect and his family (including John Davenport and Lynne Frederick of Schizo and Four of the Apocalypse) are warned beforehand and make plans to escape the city, rescue the architect’s son from boarding school and head North to the safety of the family farm.
Outside, the landscape is atrophied and inhospitable. As with backwoods-horror, the vengeful nature of the lower class forms a pivotal point in the narrative, and the family encounters rapists and looters in their travel who all come complete with indecipherable regional dialects – although Wilde does toy with the cliche for further effect.
Another of Wilde’s innovations is his use of documentary footage, and simulations thereof — including jump-cuts, hand-held camera and improvised dialogue — a development of the British docu-drama movement of the ’60s in which directors like Peter Watkins (Privilege, Punishment Park) rose to great prominence. A very personal project for Wilde, No Blade of Grass is one of the unsung achievements of the post-apocalypse subgenre.