This Is England (Shane Meadows, 2007) is a gritty representation of 80s Britain. The film starts with a montage of iconic news clips from the time, set to a song from the same time period. This establishes the setting for the rest of the film in a visually interesting way. A number of the clips may make the audience feel reminiscent of the time period (as long as they were alive of course) and remind them of their own youth which is part of the ongoing theme throughout the film of a coming of age story.
Another strong theme of the film is the British attitude to other cultures and immigration into the country. Towards the end this becomes the critical theme and the nationalist attitude of one character results in the beating up and possible murder of a character simply because of his nationality being different. This reflects some of the attitudes that were present in the time period within Britain which means the film can be called an example British social realism.
The camera work in this film is quite clever as most shots appear to be hand held and filmed at eye level. Also each shot tends to be moving. This adds to the realism of the film and the directors attempt at making scenes feel uncoordinated and almost like a documentary.
In addition to the faux documentary feel many shots stay on for a long period of time and show a great deal of the scene. Obviously in documentary’s sometimes a singular camera would be used as it easier to film. This technique is most prevalent when there is 2 or 3 characters in the scene probably as the more characters are in the scene the more shots would be needed to cover everyone in the scene’s reactions.
The film begins with a montage of news clips regarding the Falklands war amongst other significant moments in the 80s (shown below) which quickly establishes the time and setting of the film. A similar montage is done later in the film which shows more images of the war which is significant to the plot as the protagonist’s father was killed in the war and at the time this montage appears in the film the character is reflecting on his fathers life and questioning wherever or not his dad would be proud of him after witnessing an attack made by a nationalist and aggressive character to a Jamaican character.
There is a grainy texture throughout which is most likely a filter added over the top of the footage in post production which looks like the kind of quality you would expect on a VHS tape which makes the film seem like it could have been filmed at the time, yet again this is another key factor of how the film feels realistic. Also the colours are quite saturated which could be representative of the bleak attitude in the country at the time (due to recession, a lack of jobs and the war etc).
A great deal of the sound design utilises non diagetic sound and if there is music at least in the first half of the film any music in the film is part of a compiled score of songs from the 80s. The music genre involves a lot of reggae, specifically tracks by the Toots and the Maytals who are famous for reggae and ska music. The Toots and the Maytals come from Jamaica which is significant because of the racial themes throughout the film and the skinheads were associated with being a following for music which was built from new music that was being created between different ethnicities from different countries. There is a scene in the film where this is mentioned and the 2 characters (one of which was originally from Jamaica and one who was from Britain and was a nationalist) get to a point of seeing each other as equal through their taste in the same music.
The third act of the film features a more composed score that is very emotive and matches the dramatic changes occurring in the film. It may also represent the change in the main protagonist as it goes from the fun and more fast paced pop songs to the more sombre and slower music reflecting the character becoming more mature and witnessing the darker sides of some of the other characters. An example of the music is shown below, the following clip makes up the depressing and bleak end to today’s blog.