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MS4: Text, Industry & Audience
MS4: Text, Industry, Audience (Film)
THIS IS ENGLAND (2006)
Writer & Director: Shane Meadows
Release date: April 2007
Tagline: Run with the crowd, stand alone, you decide
Production Company: Warp Films (in association with FilmFour, EM Media and
UK Distributor: Optimum Releasing
Film Council Funding:
Warp Bulldog Ltd received £668,000 from the New Cinema Fund
Optimum Releasing received £90,000 from the Prints & Advertising Fund
Awards and recognition
Winner – Best Film: British Independent Film Awards
Winner – Best Newcomer (Thomas Turgoose): British Independent Film Awards
Winner – Special Jury Award: Rome Film Festival
Set in Grimsby in 1983 Thatcher-led Britain, the story follows 12-year-old Shaun
(played by newcomer Thomas Turgoose who had never acted before) who after being
bullied at school, comes across a small band of Skinheads lead by Woody (Joseph
Gilgun), a charismatic and friendly teenager who befriends the boy immediately.
Bringing him into the fold as one of their own, Woody quickly initiates Shaun as a
Skinhead to the dismay of his widowed mother. Having lost his father in the
Falklands War, Shaun gleefully embraces his new found friends (and look) until the
group is split with the arrival of Combo (Stephen Graham), an older, nationalist
(racist) skinhead just released from prison. Once friends, now rivals, Combo and
Woody divide the group along political lines. Blaming England's economic woes,
growing unemployment and post-war grievances on the influx of foreign minorities,
Combo persuades Shaun and other members of the pack to make a stand, preserving
England for the English. After attending a meeting of right-wing nationalists, Combo
takes his new found gang of hooligans to threaten the local Pakistani community. In
his contempt for others, Combo begins to reveal his own emotional battles with loss,
loneliness and isolation. When his romantic advances are later rebuffed by Woody's
girlfriend and former fling, Lol (Vicky McClure), Combo turns his hate, envy and
prejudicial rage against one member of the group to disastrous effect... changing
Shaun's viewpoint in an instant. The film is largely based on Shane Meadows’ own
MS4: Text, Industry, Audience (Film)
CASE STUDY FILM: THIS IS ENGLAND
This Is England – analysis of key scenes
This scene uses archive footage to quickly give the audience an overview of the social,
political and cultural context of the film. What do we learn about early 1980s Britain? How
might this affect our subsequent reading of the film?
Grimsby – the influence of mise-en-scene
In the early scenes before Shaun becomes part of the gang, how is Grimsby represented
through mise-en-scene? How does this reflect Shaun’s own life and the experience of other
characters in the film?
Representation of skinheads:
Compare the representations of the 2 skinhead ‘gangs’, firstly Woody’s gang, when they go
‘hunting’, then Combo’s gang in the Asian shopkeeper’s shop. Consider cinematography,
mise-en-scene, behaviour, dialogue, etc
Woody’s gang (before Combo’s arrival)
The National Front meeting:
How does this scene represent the politics of the far right National Front? What judgements
are the audience expected to make?
Combo attacks Milky:
How is this scene shot? What impact would it have on the audience? How do we feel about
the characters involved?
Use of music:
What does the film’s use of diegetic and non-diegetic ska/two-tone/black soul music bring to
our understanding and interpretation?
MS4: Text, Industry & Audience (Film)
CASE STUDY FILM: THIS IS ENGLAND
One of the main reasons why we enjoy certain films is because they appear to represent the
‘real world’; a world that is both familiar and new to us.
However, the ‘real’ cannot simply be captured by the camera or microphone and put on
screen; what appears on screen will always be the result of choices and selection.
This Is England broadly fits into the category of ‘social realist’, i.e. a film which presents
events drawn from everyday social life and which adopt a camera, sound and editing style
that draws attention to the ‘authenticity’ of the events. This contrasts with the dominant
Hollywood style of filmmaking where the fictional world is recognisable, but the people and
events are ‘larger then life’ and we must suspend our disbelief if the film is to be enjoyable.
Characteristics of social realism (which derives from the neo-realist movement in Italy in the
• Concentration on social issues as subject content
• Shooting on authentic locations
• Using non-professional actors or actors with the correct class/regional background
for the characters
• Using long-takes and an ‘observational’ documentary-type camera style
• Not using theme music or special effects
List as many ways as possible in which the ‘realism’ in This Is England is achieved. These
can come from within the film itself, but also from any contextual knowledge you have of the
film’s production. Try to use actual scenes/characters/shots from the film itself as examples.
Interview with the film’s producer, Mark Herbert
Watch the interview from the extra features disc. Make notes about key points
Herbert makes under the following headings:
How do the actors get ‘into character’?
The casting of Thomas Turgoose as Shaun, and their parallel journeys
The character of Combo
Keeping the audience ‘out of their comfort zone’.
Film festivals and critical success
Mark Kermode interviews Shane Meadows and Mark Herbert on the Culture
Shane Meadows made his debut feature film, _________________ in the late 1990s.
Prior to this, he had been making short __________________ financed by
______________________. His film, Dead Man’s Shoes, reinvented the
r___________ t______________ genre. This is England was his _____ film.
People often forget that original Skinhead culture was actually born out of multi___________ and a sense of working class p_______.
Being part of a gang gave young people like Shane Meadows a sense of
Thomas Turgoose, who plays Shaun, had never acted before. After seeing him doing
an i____________ scene with the actor who was to play his mother in the film,
Meadows knew he was right for the part.
The film shows how skinhead culture was infiltrated by a racist element. Shane
Meadows himself attended a N___________ F_________ meeting aged 11. Meadows
and Kermode argue that groups like the NF disliked immigrants and ethnic minorities
because they had a c______________ and a c____________, unlike themselves.
The film was given an 18 certificate by the BBFC due to its r_____________
a___________ l____________. However, Meadows was disappointed by the decision
as he felt the film had educational value, and that 15 year olds could deal with its
The England of 1983 portrayed in the film has many p___________ with English
society today, and this is emphasised by the decision to call the film This IS England.
MS4 – Text, Industry, Audience (Film)
THIS IS ENGLAND – PRODUCTION, DISTRIBUTION & EXHIBITION
The film was produced by Warp Films, who, on their own website claim to
have “created some of the most exciting pieces of British film making in
the last five years. It has won numerous plaudits and awards (including
three BAFTAs) since being set up in 2002.”
'My Wrongs 8245-8249 and 117' was Warp's first short film and was directed
by Chris Morris. It won the BAFTA in 2003 and for its television premiere on
Channel 4, more than one million viewers tuned in to watch it. Warp's debut
feature 'Dead Man's Shoes', directed by Shane Meadows, received a record
eight British Independent Film Award nominations, including Best Film, Best
Director and Best Achievement in Production. "Dead Man's Shoes" was also
nominated for a BAFTA and won the Southbank Award for Best Film. In
2006 Warp made their most successful production to date: 'This is England',
the story of Shaun, a boy who is befriended by a local skin-head gang after
his father is killed in the Falklands war. With its evocative soundtrack, dazzling
young star and emotive content it has won numerous international festival
awards as well as scooping Best FIlm at the British Independent Film Awards
and Best British Film at the BAFTAs. At the same award ceremony Warp
collected it's third BAFTA as Paddy Considine's directorial debut 'Dog
Altogether' won best short. Warp FIlms has also worked closely with the
Arctic Monkeys, producing two music videos for them and collaborating on the
short film 'Scummy Man' starring Stephen Graham, which won best music
video at this year's NME awards. Warp Films' development slate currently
includes projects with directors including Shane Meadows, Chris Morris, Chris
Cunningham and Richard Ayoade.
The film’s budget was £1.5m, and Warp Films received £668,000 from the
Film Council’s New Cinema Fund to help with the production.
The film was distributed by Optimum Releasing, one of the UK’s most
prominent independent film distributors, which releases around 200 films per
year. Optimum received £90,000 from the Film Council’s Prints &
Advertising fund to help with the marketing of the film.
Study the film’s key poster and jot down some analysis notes on how it
achieves its impact and audience appeal:
Now watch the film’s UK trailer. Write up an analysis, considering the
following points, and anything else you find relevant or interesting:
What are the key ‘selling points’ of the film? How might this differ to other
more mainstream/Hollywood films?
What type of action from the film do we see and why have these been
What clues does the music give the audience as to what type of film the
trailer is advertising?
How does the pace of what we see compare to watching an extract from a
film? Why is this? Does the speed alter through the trailer or stay the same?
How does the text used create audience appeal and for whom?
Where would you expect to see this trailer and give your reasons:
E.g. before what sort of films at the cinema?
How is the film’s title used as a selling point, both in terms of the actual title
itself and its position within the trailer?
Does this film trailer differ from other film trailers you have seen? How? Does
it make the marketing of the film more or less successful?
This Is England originally opened in 62 nationwide cinema, to a strong box
office. Aided by strong word of mouth publicity, the film was in high demand
and expanded to 150 cinemas in its 4th week. In competition with
blockbusters such as Spiderman 3, the film did very well and grossed around
£1.8 in the UK and over £2.5m at the international box office – a healthy
return for a UK independent film.
MS4: Text, Industry, Audience (Film)
FILM CENSORSHIP & CLASSIFICATION – This Is England
The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC)
The British Board of Film Classification is an independent, non-governmental body,
which has exercised responsibilities over cinema for more than ninety years, and
over video since 1985.
The British Board of Film Censors was established in 1912 by the film industry when
local authorities started to impose their own, widely varying, censorship standards on
films. The Board was set up in order to bring a degree of uniformity to those
standards. The object was to create a body which could make judgements that
were acceptable nationally. To this end the Board has needed to earn the trust of
the local authorities, Parliament, the press and the public. It must not only be
independent, but be seen to be so, taking care, for example, that the film industry
does not influence its decisions, and that, similarly, pressure groups and the media
do not determine its standards.
In 1984 Parliament passed the Video Recordings Act. This act stated that, subject to
certain exemptions, video recordings offered for sale or hire in the UK must be
classified by an authority designated by the Secretary of State. The following year
the President and Vice Presidents of the BBFC were so designated, and charged
with applying the new test of ‘suitability for viewing in the home’. At this point the
Board’s title was changed to the British Board of Film Classification to reflect the fact
that classification plays a far larger part in the Board’s work than censorship.
(N.B. Legal powers on film remain with the local councils, which may overrule any
of the Board’s decisions on appeal, passing films we reject, banning films we have
passed, and even waiving cuts, instituting new ones, or altering categories for films
exhibited under their own licensing jurisdiction. In practice, since most local
authorities do not have the facilities or staff to carry out this function on a regular
basis, these powers have been handed over to the BBFC since the 1920s. However,
Local authorities can take back these powers whenever they choose and have done
e.g. Billy Elliot Passed 15 in 2000 because of the frequent use of strong language,
this film about a miner's son who pursues his dream to be a ballet dancer starred 14year old Jamie Bell, who was too young to attend the premiere. There were
complaints to local authorities from parents who felt that this film about youthful
ambition was attractive to and suitable for their under-fourteen children, and local
certificates were subsequently issued in a number of locations across the
country. The BBFC had no choice under the Guidelines to pass this film lower than
15, since “12” Guidelines for language state that strong language must be “rare”.)
How a film, DVD or video game is classified
The Board’s classification decisions are reached by consensus, with the Director, the
President and the two Vice-Presidents taking ultimate responsibility.
Examiners normally view video and DVD submissions on their own – called solo
viewing. A large proportion of works suitable are for solo viewing are episodes from
TV series or works aimed at young children that have already been broadcast on
television. Films for cinema release, video games and pornography submissions are
classified in teams of two. Controversial works, such as extreme reality material, will
also be programmed for team work.
Examiners watch films for cinema release in the Board's cinema, in order to
accurately reproduce the effect that sound levels and special effects will have on the
cinema audience. Videos and DVDs are watched in the Board's viewing rooms on
plasma screens, to recreate the 'home viewing' experience.
Video games are also viewed and played in these rooms, using the appropriate
consoles. Games are measured by the IT department who assess how long
examiners will need to play the game and view all video elements. Games
companies are asked to provide level skips, cheat codes and other information such
as scripts to help examiners make a clear assessment of a games’ content.
Many films and videos are submitted in foreign languages (notably Hindi and
Cantonese) and examiners with linguistic skills are programmed to view these works.
Where the work is in a language not spoken by any of the examiners and there are
no subtitles, the Board will use an interpreter, who will sit alongside the Examiner or
With each work, Examiners log details of what they watch, including:
• general context - plot, characters, outline of individual scenes
• timings of classification moments, including camera angles, type of shots, onand off-screen moments
• bad language, sex and drug references and so on
Reports include a brief synopsis of the work, details of the classification issues and
an argument in support of the category. Most decisions are straightforward and
are based on the Board's published Guidelines, which were last revised in
2005.The distributor can request a specific category, which the solo Examiner or
team will take into consideration, but such a request does not determine a decision. If
necessary and appropriate, cuts may be suggested to meet the category request,
and the decision will be ultimately made by the distributor.
A work is referred for further viewing by a team if an Examiner is unsure about an
issue or theme. Sometimes a work will fall between two categories. This second
team could include a Senior Examiner or an Examiner with expertise in the particular
subject, as well as the Director and the Head of Policy. Difficult or controversial
material can also be referred to the weekly Examiners’ Meeting, where they can be
debated further to obtain a wide range of valuable opinions. Ultimately, the work will
be referred to Senior Management.
If a work contains material which is illegal or unacceptable under the Board's
Guidelines, Examiners will draw up a list of cuts which will be sent to the
distributor.If a work as a whole is unacceptable, it can be rejected, but this happens
only on rare occasions. The Presidential Team will be consulted on difficult works,
especially those which may be refused a certificate altogether or which raise serious
Turn this process information about the classification process into a simplified
flow diagram in the space below:
The classification process
Classification categories and principles
The Board works on five major principles in determining the category of a given work:
Precedent - every decision is taken in the light of a previous case, thereby
Balancing context against detail, with due weight given to the intention of
the work as well as the actual images shown
Current published Guidelines covering what is acceptable in each
classification category from 'U' through to 'R18'
Arguments made in mitigation for specific issues, if overall the work is
thought to offer positive messages to a younger audience
The work's target audience - who is likely to want to watch this film, and to
whom does it 'speak'
As well as the relevant legislation, the main classification issues are:
v Imitable techniques
v Sexual language
v Sexual violence
v Criminal activity
Additionally decisions are made with reference to academic and public opinion
It is impossible to predict what might upset any particular child. But a ‘U’ film
should be suitable for audiences aged four years and over. U films should be
set within a positive moral framework and should offer reassuring
counterbalances to any violence, threat or horror.
Videos classified 'Uc' are particularly suitable for pre-school children and normally
raise none of the issues set out below.
v Treatment of problematic themes must be sensitive and appropriate for a
v Infrequent use only of very mild bad language.
v Occasional natural nudity, with no sexual context.
v Mild sexual behaviour (eg kissing) and references only (eg to ‘making love’).
v Mild violence only. Occasional mild threat or menace only.
v No emphasis on realistic or easily accessible weapons. No potentially
dangerous behaviour which young children are likely to copy.
v Horror effects should be mild and brief and should take account of the
presence of very young viewers. The outcome should be reassuring.
v No references to illegal drugs or drug misuse unless there is a clear
educational purpose or clear anti-drug message suitable for the audience.
Videos classified Uc are particularly suitable for pre-school children.
PG' Parental Guidance - General viewing, but some scenes may be unsuitable
for young children. Unaccompanied children of any age may watch. A ‘PG’
film should not disturb a child aged around eight or older. However, parents
are advised to consider whether the content may upset younger or more
v Where more serious issues are featured (eg domestic violence, racist abuse)
nothing in their treatment should condone the behaviour.
v Mild bad language only.
v Natural nudity, with no sexual context.
v Sexual activity may be implied, but should be discreet and infrequent. Mild
sex references and innuendo only.
v Moderate violence, without detail, may be allowed, if justified by its setting (eg
historic, comedy or fantasy).
v No glamorisation of realistic or easily accessible weapons. No detail of
potentially dangerous behaviour which young children are likely to copy.
v Frightening sequences should not be prolonged or intense. Fantasy settings
may be a mitigating factor.
v Any references to illegal drugs or drug misuse must be innocuous or carry a
suitable anti-drug message.
12/12A – Suitable for 12 years and over. No-one younger than 12 may see a
‘12A’ film in a cinema unless accompanied by an adult. No-one younger than
12 may rent or buy a ‘12’ rated video or DVD. Responsibility for allowing under12s to view lies with the accompanying or supervising adult.
v Mature themes are acceptable, but their treatment must be suitable for young
v The use of strong language (eg 'fuck') must be infrequent. Racist abuse is
also of particular concern.
v Nudity is allowed, but in a sexual context must be brief and discreet.
v Sexual activity may be implied. Sex references may reflect what is likely to be
familiar to most adolescents but should not go beyond what is suitable for
v Violence must not dwell on detail. There should be no emphasis on injuries or
blood. Sexual violence may only be implied or briefly and discreetly indicated.
v Dangerous techniques (eg combat, hanging, suicide and self-harming) should
not dwell on imitable detail or appear pain or harm free. Easily accessible
weapons should not be glamorised.
v Sustained moderate threat and menace are permitted. Occasional gory
v Any misuse of drugs must be infrequent and should not be glamorised or
15' – Suitable only for 15 years and overNo-one younger than 15 may see a ‘15’
film in a cinema. No-one younger than 15 may rent or buy a ‘15’ rated video or
v No theme is prohibited, provided the treatment is appropriate to 15 year olds.
v There may be frequent use of strong language (eg 'fuck'). But the strongest
terms (eg 'cunt') will be acceptable only where justified by the context.
Continued aggressive use of the strongest language is unlikely to be
v Nudity may be allowed in a sexual context but without strong detail. There are
no constraints on nudity in a non-sexual or educational context.
v Sexual activity may be portrayed but without strong detail. There may be
strong verbal references to sexual behaviour.
v Violence may be strong but may not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury.
Scenes of sexual violence must be discreet and brief.
v Dangerous techniques (eg combat, hanging, suicide and self-harming) should
not dwell on imitable detail. Easily accessible weapons should not be
v Strong threat and menace are permitted. The strongest gory images are
unlikely to be acceptable.
v Drug taking may be shown but the film as a whole must not promote or
encourage drug misuse.
'18' – Suitable only for adults. No-one younger than 18 may see an ‘18’ film in a
cinema. No-one younger than 18 may rent or buy an ‘18’ rated video.
In line with the consistent findings of the BBFC's public consultations, at '18' the
BBFC's guideline concerns will not normally override the wish that adults
should be free to chose their own entertainment, within the law. Exceptions are
most likely in the following areas:
v where material or treatment appears to the Board to risk harm to individuals
or, through their behaviour, to society – e.g. any detailed portrayal of violent
or dangerous acts, or of illegal drug use, which is likely to promote the
activity. The Board may also intervene with portrayals of sexual violence
which might, e.g. eroticise or endorse sexual assault.
v the more explicit images of sexual activity – unless they can be exceptionally
justified by context and the work is not a 'sex work' as defined below.
In the case of videos and DVDs, which may be more accessible to younger
viewers, intervention may be more frequent. For the same reason, and because
of the different way in which they are experienced, the Board may take a more
precautionary approach in the case of those digital games which are covered by the
Video Recordings Act.
Where sex material genuinely seeks to inform and educate in matters such as
human sexuality, safe sex and health, exceptions to the normal constraints on
explicit images may be made in the public interest. Such explicit detail must be kept
to the minimum necessary to illustrate the educational or instructional points being
Sex works are works, normally on video or DVD, whose primary purpose is sexual
arousal or stimulation. Sex works containing material which may be simulated are
generally passed ‘18’, while sex works containing clear images of real sex are
confined to the ‘R18’ category.
'R18' - To be shown only in specially licensed cinemas, or supplied only in
licensed sex shops, and to adults of not less than 18 years. The ‘R18’ category
is a special and legally restricted classification primarily for explicit works of
consenting sex between adults. ‘R18’ videos may not be supplied by mail
The following content is not acceptable:
any material which is in breach of the criminal law, including material judged
to be obscene under the current interpretation of the Obscene Publications
material (including dialogue) likely to encourage an interest in sexually
abusive activity (eg paedophilia, incest, rape) which may include adults roleplaying as non-adults.
the portrayal of any sexual activity which involves lack of consent (whether
real or simulated). Any form of physical restraint which prevents participants
from indicating a withdrawal of consent.
• the infliction of pain or physical harm, real or (in a sexual context) simulated.
Some allowance may be made for mild consensual activity. Penetration by
any object likely to cause actual harm or associated with violence.
• any sexual threats, humiliation or abuse which does not form part of a clearly
consenting role-playing game. Strong abuse, even if consensual, is unlikely to
These guidelines will be applied to the same standard whether the activity is
heterosexual or homosexual.
Controversial Decisions & Complaints
Occasionally there will be strong arguments for passing material that challenges
aspects of Board policy, or for passing a film in a lower category than might be
expected, given Board standards, eg Saving Private Ryan (1998). It was considered
that the educational benefits of making the work available to early teens outweighed
the likelihood of upsetting some viewers. Sometimes films attract enormous prepublicity for their treatment of controversial themes. In such instances further viewing
will usually be recommended by the examining team, and the work may be seen by
the Presidential team. In some instances expert opinion will be requested. eg legal,
psychological, and there may also be a test screening. In 1997, The Lost World:
Jurassic Park was shown at test screenings before hundreds of primary school-age
children in order to test its suitability for a 'PG' classification. Lolita (1997) was the
subject of expert professional opinion owing to the difficulties implicit in its theme. In
2001 a single cut was made to the French film Baise-moi (2000)and in 2002 another
French film, Irreversible, was passed uncut, in spite of a protracted rape scene. The
film was assessed by a consultant psychologist, and although it presented some
challenging issues, it did not breach the Board's Guidelines.
Listed below are recent films and film trailers about which the Board has received 10
or more complaints. Complaints are generally replied to on an individual basis.
2004: Shrek 2 (U) – film 27 complaints on language (uses of 'bloody'); Spider-man 2
(PG) – film 19 complaints on violence
2003: Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (12A) - film 62 complaints on violence
and strong language; Blackball (12A) - trailer 16 complaints on strong language;
American Pie: The Wedding (12A) - trailer 10 complaints on visual sexual innuendo
2002: Spider-man (12) - film 51 complaints - one of which was signed by a whole
primary school class - objecting to the rating not being an unrestricted 'PG'; Minority
Report (12) - film 29 complaints about it being too violent or disturbing for that age
group; Star Wars Episode II (PG) – film 34 complaints about the removal of a head
butt; The Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship of the Ring (PG) - film 66 complaints
about the 'PG' rating being too low; The Bourne Identity (12) – film 10 complaints
2000: A Clockwork Orange (18) – film 17 complaints that it should not have been
given a classification
CLASSIFICATION CASE STUDIES
Case Study: THIS IS ENGLAND
From the BBFC website:
Consumer advice: Contains very strong racist violence and language. The
work was passed with no cuts made. This work was submitted to the
BBFC by Optimum Releasing.
The classification of This Is England was controversial. Read below the
selected articles, extracts and opinions and complete the task that follows.
Article 1 (BBC News website)
Council vetoes censors' decision
Bristol City Council has overruled film censors to allow under-18s
to see the new Shane Meadows film This Is England.
The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) had given the film an 18
certificate because it contained a scene of racist violence.
Although local authorities have the power to set their own classifications,
this is only done on rare occasions.
A councillor who sat on the committee which imposed a 15 certificate
called the BBFC's 18 verdict "idiotic".
Councillor Ron Stone added: "It was a unanimous decision of the
committee that there was nothing we saw in the film which was any worse
than you would see probably on Channel 4 or one of the main TV channels
at peak-time viewing.
"We felt it was idiotic that what is basically a very good film and very well
made, on a difficult but social issue, should be prevented from being seen
by the audience it was targeted at.
"I think the censors actually are wrong in giving it an 18 certificate."
Other councils across the UK are now understood to be following Bristol's
lead include the local authority in Grimsby, Turgoose's home town.
The schoolboy is 15 so is unable to see his own performance at the
The BBFC said it was a "borderline" 15/18 rated film but had been given
the higher classification because of the race attack scene and its
"What we are concerned about is young people seeing this in a context
where they are not in a position to discuss the issues, and where it may
come across as more attractive than offensive," said a spokeswoman.
"It is not a common occurrence for local authorities to set their own
classifications, but they are certainly within their rights to do
Article 2: extract from a blog by Andrew Collins, a film critic and
Contains Idiotic Censorship Decisions From The Start
This Is England, the award-winning latest from Shane Meadows, passed
through my local multiplex, which is pleasing to me, as his films are never
as widely seen as they deserve to be. Advance hype seems to have
garnered this one a wider release, albeit the cinema was virtually empty
when we saw it. Like all of Meadows' terrific little films it's naturalistically
played suburban ennui laced with sudden violence. Now, this film has
been granted an 18 certificate. It's about teenagers grappling with the
timeless issues of peer pressure, surrogate parents, sexual awakening,
role models and race politics, and has important things to say. You'd think
the BBFC might allow the fact that it features occasional scenes of
violence to pass, so that people of, say, 15 could legally view it. It's a film
about kids, as have been all of Meadows' best films. It should be available
The insidious thing is that the nature of the violence seems to be the
sticking point. It is, in context of the story, racial violence. The film's
about the National Front, and about the friction within the skinhead
movement between its Jamaican musical roots and the vile racism that
infected certain factions in the late 70s and early 80s. You can see the
flare-up coming a mile off. And it is shocking. But not graphic. And
certainly no more shocking than the violence in all these slasher horror
movies that get away with a commercially-vital 15 certificate. Is the
message being sent out by the censor that violence is OK for 15 yearolds, but not racially motivated violence? I could understand this if it
glorified racism, but quite the opposite. It's like saying The Deer Hunter is
pro-war because it shows war.
Interestingly, Westminster Council in London have opted out and placed a
15 certificate on the film, as have Bristol City Council, I think. This is
encouraging. But why must you be 18 to see This Is England everywhere
else in England, and Scotland, and Wales? Own goal. If racism and racist
violence is a hot-potato issue, and it is, then let's get it out into the open.
Shane Meadows must be gutted. (And it reduces his available audience something a filmmaker on the edge of mainstream success can ill afford.)
There are probably loads of examples of violent films that get away with a
15 these days, which I always took as a result of market forces. I'm all for
a system of certification for films, but consistency is paramount, surely?
Article 3: Blog written by Shane Meadows on the Guardian website
An 18 for This is England? This is an outrage
My new film has been landed with a certificate which will mean those who
need to see it most will not be able to. It's almost two years since we
started shooting This is England and at last the film is nearly out, hitting
cinemas here this weekend. I suppose it's my most personal film to date
as the main character, Shaun Fields is loosely based upon me at a time in
Everything has been going brilliantly. Last autumn the film won the
special jury prize at the Rome Film Festival and best film at the British
Independent Film Awards (BIFAs), beating BAFTA winner The Queen.
Thomas Turgoose, who plays Shaun, won the best newcomer award at the
BIFAs too. We've had some amazing press and great reviews and
everything was looking really positive.
Then, earlier this year, we heard that the British Board of Film
Classification (BBFC) had decided to give the film an 18 certificate for its
use of "realistic violence and racist language". This means that the film is
now unavailable to the audience it will benefit the most.
It's like I've somehow overachieved. By having one piece of violence and
one piece of really acute verbal violence I've managed to get an 18
certificate, whereas someone else can slay thousands of people in a single
film and that's OK. To be honest I don't understand it because, yes, the
film is affecting but I think it's something that someone of 15 can cope
with. It's not like it's a film about the 80s that has no value; it's incredibly
relevant politically. It's as much about Iraq as it is about the Falklands.
It's as much as about England in 2007 as it is about England in 1983.
The good news is that Bristol city council has overturned the BBFC's
decision, giving the film a 15 certificate. We're hoping that more councils
will follow shortly as there is a lot of support for the movie and incredulity
at the BBFC verdict. Whether or not it will be accessible to the audience
who need to see it the most remains to be seen.
Article 4: extract from a Media Studies student’s blog
This Is England should belong to an '18' rated certification as contains
violence, rasism, including racist language which can be offensive to many
people. It can be harmful to younger people as it portrays racist attitudes
that can easily influence people.
This film also uses a lot of strong language which can be sensitive to the
views of the public which is why it is restricted to the upper catergories
and as it is used agressively, and is suitable for the 18 category as it has
no constraints on language.
Consider the arguments presented carefully and create a summary
table outlining the pros and cons of the BBFC’s decision
Arguments in favour of BBFC’s
Arguments against BBFC’s
MS4 – Text, Industry, Audience (Film)
THIS IS ENGLAND – CRITICS RESPONSES
Read through the film critics’ reviews you have been provided
with. Create a summary of the key views/opinions/responses of
each in the table below:
Summary of their response
This Is England – audience responses
The tables below are taken from the Internet Movie Database. Users of this site
have rated the film out of 10.
59723 IMDb users have given a weighted average vote of 77.9 / 10 (Dec 2012)
Table 2: demographic breakdown of the votes
Make some annotations on this table to show its significant features.
IMDB’s site also carries a huge number of reviews from audience members, the vast
majority of which are positive. Read the 2 below and consider the points of view
1. Best film of the Berlin Film Festival 2007, 14 February 2007 Author:
dePaoli from Berlin, Germany
I just saw "This Is England" at the Berlin Film Festival where it was screened in the
section "Generation 14P". This section is an extension of the former "Kinderfilmfest"
for teenagers between 14 and 18 - dealing with more mature issues. I had no clue
about it, just that it would be about skinheads in England and that it takes place in the
80s. I wasn't expecting much, hoping for something like a British version of
"American History X" - I got a lot more. When I left the theater I was absolutely
stunned! Cast and script were outstanding. I loved the rough editing and grainy
camera style that made the movie look a real 80s flick! And last but not least: the
soundtrack is a blast! And coming from a director who used to be part of the real
scene, it might be the most authentic picture about skinheads ever made. Although it
didn't get as much attention as the Hollywood films that had their premiere at the
Berlinale Palast, it's a lot stronger than almost all the films in competition. I hope it
will make its way the movies and not end up as a direct-to-video-flick... 10/10
2. This is good but not great, 16 May 2007 Author: thelovetractor from
It's been a long time in my celluloid watching life since a real appreciation of a film
some three quarters of the way in has subsided to head shaking and disappointment
by the closing credits. I can't add any more to the reviews already on here - plot
development, narrative, humour, recreation of 80's England and acting (on the
whole) are all top draw. But what sort of ending was that ?? The scene in which
Combo (superb performance by the actor by the way) finally succumbed to the
demons and prejudice within was fantastic and would have made a worthy finale to
the film. Stop it there. No context required. No need to wrap things up. But another
15 mins followed. Firstly I'm not quite sure what the archive clips from the Falklands
were trying to achieve - Adding resonance to the story just told ?? by a
representation of misguided nationalism ?? or a reflection of the jingoism of the time
?? I'm not sure. The music certainly didn't help - the soaring, emotive classical
accompaniment was overly mawkish and just made me feel I was being manipulated
into a war is wrong/thatcher was bad standpoint. The film was great no need to
increase the scope or make sure we knew it's intentions. Why the need to let us
know Milky was OK in the scene with Shaun and his mum ? - surely it hits harder not
knowing this. But the final scene was so grandiose. Here comes the classical music
again and Sean rejects the life he was leading by symbolically throwing the flag into
the sea. Terrible, overblown and - dare I say it - 100% Hollywood. It reminded me of
the scenes from those 80's cop movies where the grizzled NY cop having cleared his
name - or that of his dead buddy - and exposed the bad cops ends the film by
casting his badge/commendation into the sea. So yet again the inability to end a film
well and avoid MAKING IT REALLY CLEAR HOW YOU SHOULD FEEL really
tarnishes the experience as a whole.
Reception in cinemas – a reminder:
This Is England originally opened in 62 nationwide cinema, to a strong box office.
Aided by strong word of mouth publicity, the film was in high demand and expanded
to 150 cinemas in its 4th week. In competition with blockbusters such as Spiderman
3, the film did very well and grossed around £1.8 in the UK and over £2.5m at the
international box office – a healthy return for a UK independent film.