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Social Realism in the British Context

Presented by: Jordan Crichlow
Class: 12A/Me1
Date (s) produced: 12th/13th October 2...
Areas Covered
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.

Realism or ‘realisms’?
Realism and the cinema
Defining social realism
Practice and ...
Social Realism
• Designed to include everything.
• Expresses ideas of:
1. The text’s content.
2. Its concerns.
3. Its visu...
Problems with the term itself
• The way in which the term ‘social realism’ is
used.
• The term is used in a such a carefre...
The critical consensus of realism
• The severely judged general agreement about
“realism” is that it (is):
•
•
•
•

‘Gritt...
Development of realism
• Gathered force in the nineteenth century.
• Emerged as a:
– frequently opposed
– reform-seeking

...
Suggestions
• Carroll:
– the term realism should only be used with a
particular word attached in front of it:
• “social -”...
Realism and the cinema
• By the end of the nineteenth century...
– Literature
– Theatre
– Fine Arts
• ...were being given ...
Quest and Truth
• The quest shared by all media was to:
– Present the real nature of things that occur, via...
• Capturing...
Approaches
• Approaches by:
• Andre Bazin
• Emile Zola
• Siegfried Kracauer

• Gerhardie

(contends there are several real...
Defining social realism
• Social realism is difficult to define, because:
– Social realism is constantly changing.
– Alway...
Key features
• The way character and place are linked.
– In order to explore an aspect of modern life.
• Similar to a styl...
Criteria for defining realist texts
• Raymond Williams four criteria:
1. Includes the belief that realist works prefer to ...
Practice
• Practice is:
– the way in which a film is:
• produced
• finished
• In British Social Realism, this has generall...
Influence of politics
• The politics of the film maker will influence
them to be:
– different
– distinct

• from the ordin...
Practice and Politics
•

The phrase “practice and politics”, refers to:
– aspects outside of the text that influence
the m...
Reactions of the filmmakers
• Filmmakers who want to depict “life as it is”,
are reacting to:
– the way the world is const...
Moral Realism
• In the opinion of Andrew Higson…
• moral realism is:
– the way British social realist texts have been
prop...
Free Cinema Group
• Formed by :
•
•
•
•

Tony Richardson
Lindsay Anderson
Karel Reisz
Lorenza Mazzetti

• Aims:
– Produce:...
British New Wave
• Followed on from the Free Cinema Group.
• Interested in extending the range of cinematic
representation...
Importance of Ken Loach
• Samantha Lay describes Ken Loach as:
– a committed socialist, who used his documentary realist
s...
Content
•

“Content” is made up of two conjoined and formed
aspects:
1. the issues and themes that social realist texts se...
Filmmakers intent and issues
• Lay says that:
– intent is often wanting to
• change
• be educative
• be socially purposive...
Dealing with issues
• Looking at the way an issue is dealt with in
different time periods can be proved fruitful if
– seek...
Constructs
• Through the constructs of film texts, we can
determine
– what reality is being constructed …
– from which spe...
The difference between issues and themes,
according to Samantha Lay

Issues and themes
Issues
• Issues relate to the different social problems
portrayed in films that were topical or ongoing
around the time of...
Examples of Issues
• Issues are subject to constant change, because of the
elements occurring in the same period of time, ...
Themes
• Themes are often not as explicit as issues are,
but they are moreover implied.
• Themes represent less obvious th...
Examples of themes
• Films are described in thematic terms that give us a
deeper meaning of what lays behind the addiction...
Observations/Opinions/Arguments
•

Samantha Lay

•

Williams

People of working class were largely
represented by social e...
Social Extension
• Social extension is:
– the extension of
• a range of characters to include
• groups
– individuals
» who...
The working class
• In feature films, working class people were
represented as…
• energetic
• vibrant

– …which was partly...
Time period changes and similarities
• 30s and 50s - Despite their differences, their documentary movements
share a very s...
Representation
• Samantha Lay makes the point that:
– British social realist films tend to give white male working class
c...
Conclusion of representation
• In a summary of Lay’s conclusion, it should be noted that within the
framework of social ex...
Form
• The term ‘form’ is being used to:
– signify the
• shape
• mode

in which social realist texts exist…

– whilst also...
Social Realist filmmakers
• Social realist filmmakers employ:
• specific
• formal
• stylistic

– …techniques, to
• capture...
Social realist texts
• Social realist texts work towards:
– enlarging the representations in
• art
• popular culture

– of...
Intentions
• The intentions of:
• Gary Oldman
• Ken Loach
• Lindsay Anderson
• John Grierson

– …were all different, but w...
Documentaries
• Documentaries are:
– judged to say about ‘things as they really are’,
which in other words means that they...
Programmes
• Programmes are
– judged to be screened to simply entertain the
viewing public, which is not offering a view o...
Mainstream and social realist texts
• Mainstream texts tend to differ from social realist texts, as the
narrative structur...
Naturalism
• Some people considered naturalism to be:
– British social realist texts preferring to associate
themselves wi...
‘Gritty’
• The term ‘gritty’ describes the
– surface realism of
• landscapes inhabited by the
– characters
– the way in wh...
Poetic realism
• Created by:
– A widely used number of stylistic techniques
including the sequences of
• establishing shot...
Outcome of involvement with film
• Social realist style has been put to use across
a number of different genres, for examp...
Social Realism in the British Context
Presentation
• Presented by: Jordan Crichlow
• Written by: Jordan Crichlow
• Edited ...
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Transcript of "Social realism in the british context presentation"

  1. 1. Social Realism in the British Context Presented by: Jordan Crichlow Class: 12A/Me1 Date (s) produced: 12th/13th October 2013 Teacher: Mr Becker
  2. 2. Areas Covered 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Realism or ‘realisms’? Realism and the cinema Defining social realism Practice and Politics Issues and themes Representation Form and Style Style
  3. 3. Social Realism • Designed to include everything. • Expresses ideas of: 1. The text’s content. 2. Its concerns. 3. Its visual style. Realism or 'realisms'?
  4. 4. Problems with the term itself • The way in which the term ‘social realism’ is used. • The term is used in a such a carefree way, and too generally, that: – – – – – It can loose its actual meaning. There is no careful thought put into it. It will be used in an uncritical manner. It is capable of being replaced with something else; For example: • ‘Kitchen sink’ realism. • ‘Working class’ realism. Realism or 'realisms'?
  5. 5. The critical consensus of realism • The severely judged general agreement about “realism” is that it (is): • • • • ‘Gritty’. ‘Raw’. Offers a view of ‘life as it really is’. The main style of representation from the Western World. Realism or 'realisms'?
  6. 6. Development of realism • Gathered force in the nineteenth century. • Emerged as a: – frequently opposed – reform-seeking - • expression • representation • Became a huge topic of debate among: – Philosophers – Artists • Numerous things contributed to the assisting progress of debate and motivation of the desire to tell of life ‘as it is really lived’. Realism or 'realisms'?
  7. 7. Suggestions • Carroll: – the term realism should only be used with a particular word attached in front of it: • “social -” • “documentary -” – This will specify the: • ‘what’ and ‘when’ of the particular moment or movement. Realism or 'realisms'?
  8. 8. Realism and the cinema • By the end of the nineteenth century... – Literature – Theatre – Fine Arts • ...were being given support by aesthetics, through varieties of approaches and devices, both: – Formal – Stylistic Realism and the cinema
  9. 9. Quest and Truth • The quest shared by all media was to: – Present the real nature of things that occur, via... • Capturing them with different branches of media – Moving Pictures – Pictures, etc... – Present the truth, – BUT • There was an intensely contested search for truth in cinema... – Due to the many critical eyes that view it. Realism and the cinema
  10. 10. Approaches • Approaches by: • Andre Bazin • Emile Zola • Siegfried Kracauer • Gerhardie (contends there are several realisms) (believed film was a practice precisely describing the actual circumstances of human life) (believed film was capable of representing the real, unlike any other form of media) (believed the goal of naturalism is to bring back the complete false belief of real life) • ...seek to represent the truth of things that have become associated with realism, such as: – Conventions – Codes Realism and the cinema
  11. 11. Defining social realism • Social realism is difficult to define, because: – Social realism is constantly changing. – Always liable to change. • ...therefore a definition of this is continuously difficult to be told. Defining social realism
  12. 12. Key features • The way character and place are linked. – In order to explore an aspect of modern life. • Similar to a style of art or literature that – Shows people as they are in real life • This is contended by: – A way of including information irrelevant to the main subject of films. • Aimed at films which aim to show effects of environmental factors on the development through character. Defining social realism
  13. 13. Criteria for defining realist texts • Raymond Williams four criteria: 1. Includes the belief that realist works prefer to illustrate human truth, rather than divine truths. 2. That realist texts are grounded in the contemporary scene in terms of setting, character, and social issues. 3. The issues of social exclusion, meaning that realist texts tend to extend the range of characters and topics, to include previously under-represented groups in society. 4. The focus on the intent of the artist. Defining social realism
  14. 14. Practice • Practice is: – the way in which a film is: • produced • finished • In British Social Realism, this has generally meant: – independent production, conducted via using: • traditional skills • real locations • non-professional actors • Because of filmmakers usage of non-actors and location shooting, Samantha Lay questions the commitment being shown to documentary truth, by the filmmakers. Practice and Politics
  15. 15. Influence of politics • The politics of the film maker will influence them to be: – different – distinct • from the ordinary or the norm. • This leads them to demonstrate a commitment to a specific set of ideas about the social world. Practice and Politics
  16. 16. Practice and Politics • The phrase “practice and politics”, refers to: – aspects outside of the text that influence the main elements: 1. 2. 3. 4. Form Structure Content Style Practice and Politics
  17. 17. Reactions of the filmmakers • Filmmakers who want to depict “life as it is”, are reacting to: – the way the world is constructed, by the • majority of mainstream films • practices involving studio and star systems, which are types of the construction, as they are commenting on aspects of contemporary social life. Practice and Politics
  18. 18. Moral Realism • In the opinion of Andrew Higson… • moral realism is: – the way British social realist texts have been propelled to varying degrees by a: • mission • ideal • goal Practice and Politics
  19. 19. Free Cinema Group • Formed by : • • • • Tony Richardson Lindsay Anderson Karel Reisz Lorenza Mazzetti • Aims: – Produce: • Creative • Visually exciting short films and documentaries. • It was a group of people whose ideas differed from usual filmmakers. Practice and Politics
  20. 20. British New Wave • Followed on from the Free Cinema Group. • Interested in extending the range of cinematic representation for the working class, beyond London. • Tried to help aspiring directors attain a foothold in the film industry. (Successful!) • One of there main goals was to explore out side of the mainstream locations. • Established that character and place were related well, and that environmental factors were largely unchangeable of a characters’ fates and fortunes. Practice and Politics
  21. 21. Importance of Ken Loach • Samantha Lay describes Ken Loach as: – a committed socialist, who used his documentary realist strategies to explore conflicts and inequalities in societies. – His practice also avoided the use of stars, and employs location shooting in representations of natural surroundings, because of his political beliefs and his intent as a filmmaker. – Ken Loach was also one of the few filmmakers to voice attacks involving their own opinions, against the Thatcher government in the 1980s, which as a consequence, meant the majority of his documentaries at that time were never screened. Practice and Politics
  22. 22. Content • “Content” is made up of two conjoined and formed aspects: 1. the issues and themes that social realist texts seek to explore. 2. the types of representations generally constructed. • Because of the relevance of content issues, films and film text are tied to their specific moments of production and consumption, and different points of contrast are provided, including the different moments, movements and cycles of the film. Practice and Politics
  23. 23. Filmmakers intent and issues • Lay says that: – intent is often wanting to • change • be educative • be socially purposive in some way – a filmmakers choice of issues is bound up with a • message • mission Issues and themes
  24. 24. Dealing with issues • Looking at the way an issue is dealt with in different time periods can be proved fruitful if – seeking to answer questions about why certain themes might have been central in different social realist texts, – seeking to find out why perhaps they were pushed to the background in later films. Issues and themes
  25. 25. Constructs • Through the constructs of film texts, we can determine – what reality is being constructed … – from which specific point of view, through • an analysis of – themes – issues Issues and themes
  26. 26. The difference between issues and themes, according to Samantha Lay Issues and themes
  27. 27. Issues • Issues relate to the different social problems portrayed in films that were topical or ongoing around the time of the films production, which was a cause for national and social concern. • Social issues are more immediate and visual social fears and concerns, usually with a high media profile and consequently a short shelf-life. Issues and themes
  28. 28. Examples of Issues • Issues are subject to constant change, because of the elements occurring in the same period of time, due to the now-ness of films, and then-ness of films. – An example of this is promiscuity, which was more of a concern in the 1950s, rather than the 1980s and 1990s. • Notable issues nowadays include child sexual abuse, alcohol abuse, and drug abuse, which are portrayed in a numerous amount of films, television dramas, and soap operas, such as Eastenders. • Issues are obvious and explicit, with a main storyline of a family spiralling out of control due to alcohol and drug abuse being a good example. Issues and themes
  29. 29. Themes • Themes are often not as explicit as issues are, but they are moreover implied. • Themes represent less obvious threats to social unity and stability, and work at a much deeper level. • Themes are more descriptive of remarkable occurrences, whereas issues tend to work as labels. Issues and themes
  30. 30. Examples of themes • Films are described in thematic terms that give us a deeper meaning of what lays behind the addiction issue, for example, the changing role of the working class in British social life from production to consumption. • Themes are broader, longer-lived sets of concerns, usually implied within a given text. For example, in British social realism, some of the prevalent and recurring themes include the demise of the traditional working class, national identity, and the changing of gender roles. Issues and themes
  31. 31. Observations/Opinions/Arguments • Samantha Lay • Williams People of working class were largely represented by social extension, at different moments of social and economic change. • Hill • Social realist texts draw in characters that were not in the centre of Hollywood productions. • Hallam and Marshment • British cinema had severely underrepresented the working class. • Lindsay Anderson • Documentaries in the 1930s that represented the working class, worked to be excessively irrational towards the working class male body engaged in hard labour. • Dodd and Dodd • Film is a commercial medium, rather than an educational tool. • Representation of specific character types tended towards social extension. • Representation
  32. 32. Social Extension • Social extension is: – the extension of • a range of characters to include • groups – individuals » whom were not often represented on screens in the normal cinemas considered and accepted by most people. • The social extension in British Social Realism has urged filmmakers to rectify the social and representational lack of equality, in relation to class. Representation
  33. 33. The working class • In feature films, working class people were represented as… • energetic • vibrant – …which was partly due to the newly emergent youth culture, which filmmakers fascinated about. – It was also due to the respect for the unpretentious traditional working class, which these filmmakers regarded as being under threat from the influence of American culture, and under threat from the forces of consumerism. Representation
  34. 34. Time period changes and similarities • 30s and 50s - Despite their differences, their documentary movements share a very strong emotive preoccupation with working class males. • 50s and 60s - women were represented as a threat to masculinity, because of their obsession of marriage and motherhood. They were also the target of harsh attacks from their working class heroes. • 80s - the gender gap was addressed by more female-centred social realist texts, which reflected the rising importance of women in the workforce and in society as a whole. • 90s - the portrayal of women had taken a huge step backwards, as women were now being portrayed as materialistic, or victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Representation
  35. 35. Representation • Samantha Lay makes the point that: – British social realist films tend to give white male working class characters advantages. – She explains that British social realism’s sense of social extension is extremely bad and shocking, as it has a huge lack of working class characters from different multicultural societies. • This point made leads Samantha Lay to observe how very little… – asylum seekers – refugees – illegal workers • …are rarely featured on British screens, beyond news bulletins and documentaries, and how they should be observed much better than in previous times. Representation
  36. 36. Conclusion of representation • In a summary of Lay’s conclusion, it should be noted that within the framework of social extension… – the representation of working class characters in British social realist films is being attended to, whilst on the other hand… – these texts tend to favour white male working class characters. • These are then defined as ‘prone’ to the social and psychological traumas of violence, unemployment, and addiction. • Also the fact of the continuous moves from public to private and political to personal, are lost from the frame globally, as well as nationally, due to the wider structural inequalities being extended. • Finally, some of the texts explore the thoughts or ideas belonging to the central protagonists through a recreation of the past, which can be argued via films offering a remembrance of happy times in the past, as a possible alternative to the heritage film in British cinema. Representation
  37. 37. Form • The term ‘form’ is being used to: – signify the • shape • mode in which social realist texts exist… – whilst also referring to the • types • kinds • ‘arrangement of parts’ Form and Style
  38. 38. Social Realist filmmakers • Social realist filmmakers employ: • specific • formal • stylistic – …techniques, to • capture • observe • analyse – …the workings of society. Form and Style
  39. 39. Social realist texts • Social realist texts work towards: – enlarging the representations in • art • popular culture – of previously under-represented and less important groups, – looked upon as out of the mainstream. • They also worked towards dealing with • issues • problems – that mainstream cinema had previously shunned and ignored. Form and Style
  40. 40. Intentions • The intentions of: • Gary Oldman • Ken Loach • Lindsay Anderson • John Grierson – …were all different, but what bought together their work was their presence of intent which they valued more than searching for fame and income. Form and Style
  41. 41. Documentaries • Documentaries are: – judged to say about ‘things as they really are’, which in other words means that they offer a slice of life to the viewers. Form and Style
  42. 42. Programmes • Programmes are – judged to be screened to simply entertain the viewing public, which is not offering a view of life as it really is. THERE ARE HUNDREDS!! Form and Style
  43. 43. Mainstream and social realist texts • Mainstream texts tend to differ from social realist texts, as the narrative structures focus on a central protagonist, whilst working in a linear or cause-and-effect way. • The mainstream texts always usually tend to work towards the defeat of certain antagonists in the text, with the protagonist coming out on top, surviving, being the hero, and so on. • A notable difference between the two texts is that social realist texts tend to run regularly, with no final outcome or ending of the text coming into play, as they are ongoing. • The continuous storylines of the texts are often negative, though it should be noted that the degree of resistance and resolution varies widely between different texts. Form and Style
  44. 44. Naturalism • Some people considered naturalism to be: – British social realist texts preferring to associate themselves with • Content …instead of style. Style
  45. 45. ‘Gritty’ • The term ‘gritty’ describes the – surface realism of • landscapes inhabited by the – characters – the way in which they are both filmed – the attitude and behaviour of the character Style
  46. 46. Poetic realism • Created by: – A widely used number of stylistic techniques including the sequences of • establishing shot sizes, namely… – wide-angled – long shots of urban landscapes. Style
  47. 47. Outcome of involvement with film • Social realist style has been put to use across a number of different genres, for example: • horror • comedy • science fiction – …and some of the techniques are consequently part of mainstream cinema, such as… • hand-held techniques – …noticed and represented in the film Jaws. Style
  48. 48. Social Realism in the British Context Presentation • Presented by: Jordan Crichlow • Written by: Jordan Crichlow • Edited by: Jordan Crichlow • EVERYTHING by: Jordan Crichlow • The Beacon School 2013/14 • Media Presentation • Class: 12A/Me1
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