The genre of british social realism


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The genre of british social realism

  2. 2. CONVENTIONS OF BRITISH SOCIAL REALISM <ul><li>Location shooting (not in studio) </li></ul><ul><li>Wide Shots </li></ul><ul><li>Non-Professional Actors </li></ul><ul><li>Semi improvised scripts (e.g Mike Leigh) </li></ul><ul><li>Humour and seriousness </li></ul><ul><li>The erosion of regional identities </li></ul><ul><li>Wider social issues explored via emotional and dramatic individual stories </li></ul><ul><li>Triumph over adversity </li></ul>Mike Leigh
  3. 3. MIKE LEIGH <ul><li>Leigh uses lengthy improvisations developed over a period of weeks to build characters and storylines for his films. </li></ul><ul><li>He starts with some sketch ideas of how he thinks things might develop, but does not reveal all his intentions with the cast who discover their fate and act out their responses as their destinies are gradually revealed. </li></ul><ul><li>Intimate moments are explored that will not even be referred to in the final film to build insight and understanding of history, character and inner motivation. </li></ul><ul><li>When an improvisation needs to be stopped, he says to the actors: 'Come out of character,' before they discuss what's happened or what might have happened in a situation </li></ul><ul><li>The critical scenes in the eventual story are performed and recorded in full-costumed, real-time improvisations where the actors encounter for the first time new characters, events or information which may dramatically affect their characters' lives </li></ul><ul><li>The camera work in his films is characterised by 'a detached, medical watchfulness’. </li></ul><ul><li>His character work, improvisations and unplanned scenes are a technique followed by East 15 School of Acting, where these methods continue to be taught and used at the forefront of the acting and directing training industry </li></ul>
  4. 4. EARLY SOCIAL REALISM <ul><li>Early British cinema picked up on the revelation of everyday social interaction (as found in Dickens and Thomas Hardy). </li></ul><ul><li>In Rescued by Rover (1905), Cecil Hepworth caught Edwardian England at a particular moment. </li></ul><ul><li>James Williamson’s A Reservist Before the War, and After the War (1902) offered a portrait of the Boer War servicemen returning to unemployment and was one of the first films to emphasise realism’s value as a social protest . </li></ul>Rescued by Rover
  5. 5. BRITISH CINEMA IN THE 1930’S/1940’S <ul><li>Britain's contribution to cinema in the 1930s lay in a state-sponsored documentary tradition that would feed into the 1940s mainstream. Producer Michael Balcon revived the social/aesthetic distinction when he referred to the British industry's longstanding rivalry with Hollywood in terms of 'realism and tinsel'. Balcon, in his position as head of Ealing Studios, would become a key figure in the emergence of a national cinema characterised by stoicism and verisimilitude. Combining the objective temper and aesthetics of the documentary movement with the stars and resources of studio filmmaking, 1940s British cinema made a stirring appeal to a mass audience. </li></ul>Michael Balcon
  6. 6. WARTIME SOCIETY AND FILM <ul><li>The 'quality film' mirrored a transforming wartime society. Women now worked in munitions factories and the services, mixing with men and challenging pre-assigned gender roles. Rationing, air raids and unprecedented state intervention in the life of the individual encouraged a 'one nation, one goal' philosophy. Target for Tonight (1941), In Which We Serve (1942), Millions Like Us (1943) and This Happy Breed (1944) smoothed away the tensions of a class-bound society in the depiction of factory life, the suburban street, the forces' mess. Historian Roger Manvell wrote: &quot;As the cinemas [closed initially because of the fear of air raids] reopened, the public flooded in, searching for relief from hard work, companionship, release from tension, emotional indulgence and, where they could find them, some reaffirmation of the values of humanity.&quot; </li></ul>
  7. 7. 1950’S FREE CINEMA & 1960’S BRITISH NEW WAVE <ul><li>Documentarist Humphrey Jennings had been responsible for consensus-building works like Listen to Britain (1942) and Spare Time (1939), which, looking at the British at play, forged a 'new iconography', influencing the 1950s Free Cinema documentary movement and the 1960s British New Wave. </li></ul><ul><li>One of the strongest images of post-war British cinema is that of factory worker Arthur Seaton downing a pint in one at the end of another week in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960). Related to, though independent of, the commercial mainstream, the New Wave was fed by the 'Angry Young Men' of 1950s theatre, the verisimilitude of Italian Neo-realism and the youth appeal of the French New Wave. Amid the smokestacks and terraces of regional life, Room at the Top (1958), The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962), and A Kind of Loving (1962) brought wide shots and plain speaking to stories of ordinary Britons negotiating the social structures of post-war Britain. </li></ul>
  8. 8. A KIND OF LOVING (1962) <ul><li>(Slide to be added after work finished with Miss </li></ul><ul><li>Raison) </li></ul>
  9. 9. SEX IN FILM <ul><li>Thanks to the relaxation of censorship, characters had sex lives, money worries, social problems. British 'auteurs' like Karel Reisz, Tony Richardson and John Schlesinger dealt with prostitution, abortion, homosexuality, alienation and relationship problems. Here were factory workers, office underlings, dissatisfied wives, pregnant girlfriends, runaways, the marginalised, poor and depressed. </li></ul>Karel Reisz John Schlesinger
  10. 10. THE NEW WAVE <ul><li>The New Wave was symptomatic of a worldwide emergence of art cinemas challenging mainstream aesthetics and attitudes. Identified with their directors rather than with the industry, the New Wave films tended to address issues around masculinity that would become common in British social realism. The New Wave protagonist was usually a working-class male without bearings in a society in which traditional industries and the cultures that went with them were in decline. Directors from Ken Loach to Patrick Keiller, and films from Mike Leigh's High Hopes (1988) to The Full Monty (1997) have addressed the erosion of regional and class identities amid a landscape rendered increasingly uniform by consumerism. </li></ul>
  11. 11. THE IMPACT OF LOACH AND LEIGH <ul><li>Descendants of the realist flowering at the BBC in the 1960s, Ken Loach and Mike Leigh assessed the impact of the consumer society on family life, charting the erosion of the welfare state and the consensus that built it. Looking back, Loach's work seems to reflect the shift from the collectivist mood of the war years to the individualism of the postwar decades in its very form. Loach's films went from the improvised long-take naturalism of Poor Cow and Kes (both 1969) to the 'social melodrama' of Raining Stones (1993) and Ladybird Ladybird (1994), wider social issues now explored via emotional and dramatic individual stories. The breakdown of the collective consensus in post-war Britain seems to be captured in the tragicomic exchanges of Mike Leigh's Life is Sweet (1990), Naked (1993) and Secrets and Lies (1996). In these films, Leigh examined the fractures in domestic and social life wrought by divisive Thatcherite policies in an increasingly fragmented and multicultural Britain. If the New Wave short-sightedly blamed women for the blighting of British manhood, women in Loach and Leigh are often complex and powerful individuals. </li></ul>
  12. 12. CHANNEL 4 <ul><li>In the 1980s, publisher-broadcaster Channel 4 attempted to cultivate a cinema audience for realism. Responding to the moralistic entrepreneurialism of the Thatcher years, 'Films on Four' My Beautiful Laundrette and Letter to Brezhnev (both 1985) followed characters from the margins as they attempted to stake a claim in the new order. As the funding environment grew more precarious, by the 1990s a formulaic 'triumph-over-adversity' narrative combining the streets and cityscapes of traditional British realism with the feel-good vibe of Hollywood individualism answered the challenge of reiterating a national cinema amid spreading multiplexes </li></ul>
  13. 13. REPRESENTATION OF MEN AND WOMEN <ul><li>Championed by the incoming post-welfare New Labour, The Full Monty (1997) came to epitomise a new and entertaining conception of British social realism. Meanwhile, more lethal and complex representations of men and women appeared in Gary Oldman's autobiographical Nil by Mouth , Antonia Bird's Face (both 1997), Shane Meadows' A Room for Romeo Brass (1999) and Carine Adler's Under the Skin (1997), adding shade to our best hope for a truly national cinema. Touted in the British press as yet another banner year for British filmmaking, 2002 saw important new films from Loach - Sweet Sixteen - Leigh - All or Nothing - and Lynne Ramsay - Morvern Callar , suggesting a national cinema with a genuine and vital commitment to the way we live. </li></ul>Shane Meadows