Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5. United Kingdom, 2013. Fly Film Company, Sixteen Films, Film4, Channel Four, UK Film Council, EM Media, BFI Film Fund, Channel 4. Screenplay by Ken Loach. Produced by Rebecca O’Brien, Kate Ogborn, Lisa Marie Russo. Music by George Fenton. Film Editing by Jonathan Morris.
This lyrical, robust documentary sees Ken Loach examining the spirit of socialism that grew in England in the aftermath of World War II, through to its destruction by conservative forces in the seventies and the awkward combination of both that survives today. Determined not to see the reinforcement of class structure that survived the first World War, citizens of England were emboldened by the resourcefulness that helped them through five years of resisting Nazi terror and put the Labour party at the end of the war. Little by little, industries that were once privately owned and once exploited the common man became nationalized: the railroads, mining, and, most important, health care were taken out of privileged hands and used to make all feel equal in a country that was so powerful globally but was inhabited by a great number of people who were impoverished and poorly educated. Elderly interview subjects discuss the changes in their lives from before and after these changes, all of which are mesmerizing, and the devastation wrought by the Thatcher era that saw the devastating coal miner’s strike, the breaking of the unions, and the return to privatization that is still occurring today. Loach covers a great deal of territory in one film and does it with exceptional ease and intelligence, combining file footage with the modern scenes and coming up with something that is politically galvanizing, sentimentally nostalgic and so much more in between.