Friday, 25 November 2011

Iconic Scenes - 'Made in Britain'

I've decided to stop referring to these short entries as "scene of the week" because I don't always have time to do them and they tend to be quite sporadic. So from now on they are my "iconic scenes". Knowing me I'll probably end up doing them weekly now.

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Alan Clarke is arguably up there with the most influential British directors to have ever shouted action. He was primarily a television director but his "social delinquent" trilogy - 'Scum', 'Made in Britain' and 'The Firm' - remains some of the most powerful cinema I have (and probably ever will) see. Each one covers a frustrated and violent demographic of Britain in the late 70s and 80s, people who felt left behind in a time of bleak political and economic prospects under the shadow of Thatcher's Britain. His work also broaches upon topics such as the inadequacies of our prison and school systems, racism and the mentality of the mob. Very few directors have ever shown Britain's imperfections in such a truthful light (Shane Meadows is one of these few).

The trilogy also features blistering central performances from three young actors who would go on to become some of the most talented and versatile exports that these shores have ever produced - 'the young offender' (Ray Winstone), 'the skinhead' (Tim Roth) and 'the football hooligan' (Gary Oldman). These movies are powerful and so honest that it hurts. Think twice before watching one of those watered down, hollow monstrosities (probably starring Danny Dyer) which try and emulate how raw Clarke's creations are - they always fall embarrassingly short. 

This scene (starring a 21 year old Roth in his first feature) is one of my all time favourites. The neo-nazi is like an animal in a cage, his hatred flows forth like lava as he releases a tirade against the hypocrisy and double standards of a "civilised society" which on one hand, calls for decency and yet casts the vulnerable aside with the other. His reckless hatred and racist vitriol is a stark contrast with the civilised condescension of the authority figures which confront him but, in the end, only prove his point.