The good thing about social realism films is that they incorporate real world social issues
to try and reflect real life, this therefore gives social realism films a verity of sub genres.
Although most of these genres are born through the genre of drama. Therefore social
realism films can have very different story lines and it is quite hard to pinpoint a generic
underlying theme among their story lines. However some have large similarities. Social
realism films are usually based on working class people who are undergoing some sort of
struggle and often focus on the development of a character, for example this can be seen
in Billy Elliot and This is England. The complicated action often ends up in large character
development which the viewer can sympathise with. This then makes social realism films
quite deep, giving them a large impact. Since social realism films deal with real world
social issues controversial topics such as drugs, sex and abuse are covered. For example
in the film Tyrannosaur a woman is undergoing abuse from her husband and ends up
Forms and Conventions
The use of unknown actors is one large convention of social realism. Using
an actor with no previous reputation adds to the realistic feel of the film
and makes it easier for the audience to empathise. Social realism films often
hold a political or social message that has come from the director, giving
the director an opportunity to portray his/her views as artistically or as
graphically as possible. As stated on the previous slide there are some
recurring topics that are covered, drugs, violence, family issues, poverty,
crime and sexuality etc.
Previous to this is England the majority of these actors
had minor roles or were unheard of.
Audiences can completely differ depending on the content of the
film. Some social realism films like Billy Elliot can attract family
audiences and can be watched by most people. However films like
Trainspotting have smaller audiences due to the content of drugs and
violence ect. The era the film is set in can also have a huge impact on
the audience. For example Trainspotting is set in the late 1980’s, this
is more likely going to attract people in their mid to late forties, or
when it was released mid twenties to thirties. Whereas films such as
kidulthood will attract the attention of the current day youth.
Obviously the stereotypes are dramatized slightly for entertainment
but social realism films can be seen as a form of historical
Depending on the era and content of the film characters often belong to
a subculture or social group. As times change so do sub cultures so in
some cases the social commentary in social realism films can be very
individual and can in some cases be part of history. Kidulthood is a good
example of this as it helps show British society the pain of the modern
youth in some parts of Britain. This is England and Trainspotting cover
subcultures that were prominent at the time such as skinheads etc..
In social realism films shots are effective in the sense that they are
realistic and could be from the perspective of someone else in the
room, almost like a fly on the wall. Directors can get very creative
with this and use locations to their advantage. Basic shots give actors
a chance to show raw emotion. The weather usually reflects the
atmosphere, in This is England and Tyrannosaur shots are usually very
The close framing and the foregrounding in this shot
makes the viewer feel involved and uncomfortable, shots
like this help emphasise the social realism genre. This is a
trailer for This is England.
Again close framing is used, the camera is angled
into a realistic perspective. This put with the
location makes the viewer feel submerged in the
event. This is a trailer for Tyrannosaur.
Props are often dependent on the stereotype and subculture of the
characters. Clothing and style is very important in Social Realism
films, they help add to the artistic but realistic feel. A sense of
personality can be shown through the clothing. Since social realism
films need to be realistic as possible, representations are shown
through subtle things like clothing accent and attitude etc..
Soundtracks are again based around the subcultures in the film, in
This Is England There is a lot of skinhead reggae. The music is also
based around the era and the characters personality.