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Timeline of social realist films
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Timeline of social realist films


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  • 1. Timeline of Social Realist Films
  • 2. 1944- This Happy Breed • This is a British social realism film with aspects of drama and comedy. The film is set between the two world wars, and examines peoples' lives in this period, including their hardships in terms of love and marriage, death, the general strike of 1926 and death in the family. The references to real historical events represent the 'realism' in society at the time.
  • 3. 1949-Passport to Pimlico • When an unexploded WWII bomb is accidentally detonated in Pimlico, an area of London, it reveals a treasure trove and documents proving that the region is, in fact part of Burgundy, France and thus foreign territory. The British Government attempt to regain control by setting up border controls and cutting off services to the area
  • 4. 1953- The Titfield Thunderbolt • When British Rail abandons the village's train service, the villagers decide to band together and run it themselves, despite opposition from the bus company, in this 'comedy classic'.
  • 5. 1959- ROOM AT THE TOP • The English factory town is dreary but Joe Lampton has landed a job with a future. To have something to do at night he joins a theatrical group. His boss's daughter Susan is playing ingénue roles on stage and in real life. She is attracted to Joe and Joe thinks about how much faster he will get ahead if he is the boss's son-in-law. This plan is complicated by his strong desire to be with an older woman who also belongs to the theatrical group. She is French and unhappily married. Joe believes he can get away with seeing both women
  • 6. 1960- SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING • Arthur (Albert Finney), one of Britain‟s angry young men of the 1960s, is a hardworking factory worker who slaves all week at his mindless job for his modest wages. Come Saturday night, he‟s off to the pub for a loud and rowdy beer session. With him is Brenda (Rachel Roberts), his girlfriend of the moment. Married to a fellow worker, she is nonetheless captivated by his rugged good looks and his devil-may-care attitude. Soon a new love interest Doreen (Shirley Ann Field) enters and a week later, Brenda announces she‟s pregnant. She tells Arthur she needs money for an abortion, and Arthur promises to pay for it. By this time, his relationship with Doreen has ripened and Brenda, hearing of it, confronts him. He denies everything, but it‟s obvious that their affair is all but over.
  • 7. 1963- BILLY LIAR • Tom Courtenay gives a flawlessly nuanced performance as Billy Fisher, the underachieving undertaker‟s assistant whose constant daydreams and truth-deficient stories earn him the nickname “Billy Liar.” Julie Christie is the handbag-swinging charmer whose free spirit just might inspire Billy to finally move out of his parents‟ house. Deftly veering from gritty realism to flamboyant fantasy, Billy Liar is a dazzling and uproarious classic. —The Criterion Collection
  • 8. 1969- Kes • The film focuses on 15 year old Billy Casper, who has little hope in life and is bullied. His fear is that he will end up working in a coal mine (coal miners were also amongst the worst paid workers in the developed world). But he finds a way out of his difficulties by finding and taking a kestrel from a nest, which he trains, and his life begins to turn around. That is until his evil half-brother gets revenge for failing to put on a winning bet for him.
  • 9. 1988- High Hopes • This film revolves around an extended working class family in London, who battle against each other in terms of family planning, as well as other clashes of culture, such as the elderly and the young 'yuppies' neighbouring the working class, and different belief systems, politically and otherwise.
  • 10. 1996- Trainspotting • This film follows a group of heroin addicts in the 1980s, in an economically depressed area of Edinburgh, and depicts their journeys through life. It is a black comedy, in which the characters battle against the addiction as well as attempt to make clean starts in their lives with money earned from drug deals.
  • 11. 1996- Brassed Off • Set in Yorkshire in the Thatcher years, this film tells of a number of peoples' struggles as they are made redundant from their workplace: the coal pit. They are, however, also in a colliery brass band, which earns mass publicity and gets the chance to enter a nationwide competition, amidst the difficulties they all face. Themes include unemployment and the working class culture while the film appears to make a political statement about the traditional state of mining communities in Britain.
  • 12. 1997- The Full Monty • This comedy drama set in Sheffield depicts the struggles of several middle aged men who cannot earn a job after the closure of the steelworks. They therefore become a strip-tease act to earn a short term amount of money. There are many realism based themes included such as unemployment, depression, suicide, obesity, fathers' rights, homosexuality and working class culture.
  • 13. 2000- Billy Elliot • 11 year old Billy is an aspiring dancer during the time of the miners' strike. He does not have the approval of the activity from his father, until after Billy continues lessons secretly, when he realises he has talent, and does whatever he can to help him achieve his dream. Billy manages to earn a place in the Royal Ballet School, and successfully becomes a dancer, despite his family's numerous difficulties in their work.
  • 14. 2002- Dirty Pretty Things • This film set in London, is themed on the struggles of foreign immigrants to earn enough money through employment to 'stay afloat'. They are also threatened by immigration authorities throughout the film. Meanwhile, a the main protagonists find secrets of their employment leading to the criminal underworld, which is another huge theme in the film.
  • 15. 2004- Bullet Boy • The gritty drama Bullet Boy tells how two brothers living in a harsh poverty stricken area of London become involved in a vicious cycle of violence after an incident on the street.
  • 16. 2005- Green Street Hooligans • A wrongfully expelled Harvard undergrad moves to London, where he is introduced to the violent underworld of football hooliganism.
  • 17. 2006- Kidulthood • Based on the contemporary issue of gang and youth culture, this film is set in West London, and over the course of 48 hours', the themes of drugs, violence, sex and teenage pregnancy, bullying and underage drinking and alcohol are all exhibited.
  • 18. 2006- This Is England • A story about a troubled boy growing up in England, set in 1983. He comes across a few skinheads on his way home from school, after a fight. They become his new best friends even like family. Based on experiences of director Shane Meadows.
  • 19. 2006- London to Brighton • It's 3:07am and two girls burst into a run down London toilet. Joanne is crying her eyes out and her clothing is ripped. Kelly's face is bruised and starting to swell. Duncan Allen lies in his bathroom bleeding to death. Duncan's son, Stuart, has found his father and wants answers. Derek, Kelly's pimp, needs to find Kelly or it will be him who pays. Kelly and Joanne need to get through the next 24 hours alive.
  • 20. 2008- Adulthood • With familiar themes to its predecessor, 'Kidulthood', the sequel focuses on the same characters with some new ones as Sam, the villain from the last film, attempts to get used to life outside of prison after his release, despite many attempts of others to gain revenge for the life he took.
  • 21. 2008- Shifty • Shifty, a young crack cocaine dealer in London, sees his life quickly spiral out of control when his best friend returns home. Stalked by a customer desperate to score at all costs, and with his family about to turn their back on him for good, Shifty must out-run and out-smart a rival drug dealer, intent on setting him up for a big fall. As his long time friend Chris, confronts the dark past he left behind him, Shifty is forced to face up to the violent future he's hurtling towards.
  • 22. 2009- Looking for Eric • Eric, a football fanatic postman whose life is descending into crisis, receives some life coaching from the famously philosophical Eric Cantona.
  • 23. 2009- Fish Tank • Mia, an aggressive fifteen-year-old girl, lives on an Essex estate with her tarty mother, Joanne, and precocious little sister Tyler. She has been thrown out of school and is awaiting admission to a referrals unit and spends her days aimlessly. She begins an uneasy friendship with Joanne's slick boyfriend, Connor, who encourages her one interest, dancing.
  • 24. 2012- iLL Manor • A unique crime thriller set on the unforgiving streets of London, iLL MANORS follows six disparate lives, all struggling to survive the circles of violence that engulf them. There is ex-dealer Kirby, who has just been released from prison, thug Ed who will stop at nothing to find his missing phone, troubled Michelle who is just looking for her next hit, young Jake who finds himself drawn to the local gang, Chris, who seeks revenge, Katya, who is desperately trying to escape this foreign land, and Aaron, our main protagonist who is just trying to do the right thing. Some film synopsis‟ are copy form Imdb.
  • 25. Social realism films • These is a list of social realisms which were either successful or influenced other social realism films. • Films like „Kes‟ which was a successful social film winning two awards and being nominated for three other categories at BAFTA film awards. • „Adulthood‟ influenced some social realism films like „iLL Manors‟. The film „iLL Manors‟ was directed and written by Ben Drew, who starred in „Adulthood‟. The influence is shown through the narrative plot, being similar to the one in „Adulthood‟, as both films are based around violence.
  • 26. Social realism films then • Social realism films in the past were often seen as if the director wanted the film to look like a soap-opera. As these films will often have plots based around social class and current/past events (the wars that have taken place). • These type of social films were aimed at a older target audience we are use to seeing nowadays. Whether it had something to do with the type of actors casted, as these actor are much older then the actors casted for films like „Fish Tank‟. Or the sort of mature issues in the plot, like marriage.
  • 27. Social realism films now • The modern era of social realism mostly focus on the representation of the young people. As nowadays a lot of social realism films such as „Kidulthood‟, „Shifty‟ and „iLL Manors‟ have gone for plots based around violence, drugs and money. • Some of these films may have some sense of realism to it, for stuff like stereotypical views on young people. Which makes these sort of social realism film more appealing to a younger target audience compared to films like „Passport to Pimlico‟ and „Room At The Top‟ as these films were most aimed at a mature older audience. • Also, the fact that the social realism film we see nowadays have casted younger actors, helps the audience relate to the character being portrayed.