This is really bad, but i wanted to post it to see my growth as a writer. I have no idea how I passed this paper.
Anger and Frustration in Post-War Britain
In many of the films viewed so far in the course of the first half of the semester, a theme is made in some of them. Of them, one that was prominent was a sense of anger and annoyance at the world, or at things in general with a mix of negativism and cynicism. Of all the themes identified in the films screened in class, one is prominent: anger & frustration in Post War Britain. The British were usually good at holding on to their optimism but it faded away in some of their artworks and their pent-up anger came out in some films, that much is clear. An air of frustration hangs over the attitude of some of the films made in the first years of post-war Britain and prevailed until at least the 1960’s. One main source of this pessimism is the film The Fallen Idol, where the main character is convicted of a crime he is blamed to have done but did not, though it takes a wild game to reach that conclusion. Even the Ealing Comedies couldn’t very well hold back the flood of negativity. In the film Passport to Pimlico, a neighborhood becomes part of the Burundian Empire, breaking away from England and making way as an independent country. Finally, the film Brighton Rock illustrates the British cynicism toward religion as well as England as a whole. These films are all examples of a dark, more pessimistic view of England and indeed the world as British cinema started to develop into its own powerhouse industry.
In The Fallen Idol, Baines is falsely accused of committed a murder upon is estranged wife. The child, Phillipe, sees Baines “push” Mrs. Baines down the stairs, which is a falsity but the police start to see this as a reality. The film was made in 1948 and is very reflective of society at the time. The police who do not believe Baines’ version of the story shows the pessimism of the British zeitgeist of the time. They feel that taking the darker side of the approach leads to less problems and if being the pessimist leads to less strife then they would definitely takes the high road. The character of Philipe, in his naivety, thought he was helping everyone (mainly Baines) by lying to the police and wanted to protect Baines from great consequences. This shows the innocence of a child wanting to do the right thing but ends up always making it worse by getting in the way underfoot. When he is pulled over by Julie and was told by her not to lie to anyone anymore because it only worsens the situation, Phillipe potentially again digs a hole for Baines. The policemen start to ignore Phillipe because they deem that he is just another little fibber hungry for attention but Phillipe presses and presses them until they ask if he wants to know a secret, to which he promptly says no. This shows that in British society they were so pessimistic that they thought that the worse things that would happen would indeed come to pass (or Murphy’s Law) - such as Mrs. Baines finding out about Julie from Phillipe. Film analysts have said that The Fallen Idol is a coming of age tale trimmed with adult themes and mature content. Henrik Sylow says this about the film: “Continuing his coming of age theme from “Odd Man Out”, where Reed suggests, that man only can achieve self-control and maturity thru overcoming life’s challenges, and dealing with motifs their later stories also would touch upon, as believed perception versus actual perception, the voyeur element of spying and most importantly the hypocrisy of our leaders / idols / society,” (Sylow). Sylow touches upon the people in leadership positions being deceitful and being poked fun of in the film. The people in high positions of society are usually caught up in their lies, much like Baines was with Phillipe, Mrs. Baines and the police, and the lies only get more tangled as more people try to either help or expose them, much like Phillipe and Julie did when Baines was confronted. Overall The Fallen Idol was a social commentary on the anger the British society felt about lying and people in political positions.
In Passport to Pimlico a district of London splits away from England and revives Burgundy after finding ancient documents saying a previous English king conceded the territory to Burgundy and it’s king. Beneath the gentle prodding of English policies I feel that the writer (Ealing Studio regular T. E. B. Clarke) was making it subtle with the frustration of the average British citizen against the government of England. The citizens embraced the change of countries because they were tired of all the laws, the taxes, and the rationing. In order to leave this old and tiring system they embrace the change of sovereignties. All citizens welcomed this change for a while due to their frustration of the rationing system as well as other causes. Film4 says the following of the film: “A successful satire of aspects of British government and a thoroughly endearing Ealing Comedy.” (Film4) Film4 brings the point right to the forefront by pointing fingers to the government. Passport to Pimlico is a satire on the government where the British government doesn’t know what to do about the Pimlico upstarts and thinks that its just a minor problem and will die off on its own until the public opinion shifts in favor of the new Burgundy. When the Burundians lose their food supplies they are supplied by the people in the streets throwing food over the fence (and even a helicopter dropping in food much like the famous Berlin airlift) and they are further sustained by this food, despite the continuing rationing happening in England at the time. At the end they are brought back in by giving England a loan, further being pessimistic toward the British government by saying they’re out of money from the war a few years ago. In total, the film demonstrates the general populace’s anger toward the rationing problems and the lack of money in the British bank.
Finally, Brighton Rock gives off the air of being cynical toward religion and a person’s confusion and frustration. In England, a predominantly Protestant country, people have always had conflicting views and thoughts on God, Heaven, and religion in general. The character of Pinkie is, of course, no exception to this. In the film Brighton Rock his concepts and ideas of Heaven and Hell is contradictory and not helpful to a viewer trying to understand it but to people who have grown up with it and it’s teachings it could very well speak to them. Says Andrew Moore, “’There may be heaven though he can form no idea of it; but he has a vivid idea of hell:‘ Of course there’s Hell. Flames and damnation.’ (p. 52). Initially, Pinkie believes that hell awaits him after death, and there is no point in troubling about it beforehand: ‘Hell - it’s just there. You don’t need to think of it - not before you die"’(p. 91). But his remark to Rose immediately prior to this (‘I don’t take any stock in religion’) is not convincing,” (Moore). Pinkie thinks that Hell is this place that, even without religion to give it rules, exists regardless of what others say about it. When Pinkie nears the end of the film he reaches an epiphany about his previous thoughts and conceptions of Hell. “What Pinkie comes to realize about his original view of things is that it is mistaken, and that hell is all around us,” (Moore). Pinkie, and the viewer of the film, discovers that this world is indeed the Hell that we were all taught to fear and that there is no real need to be the good person they should be. In this film, Pinkie, and in turn the average audience of the film, is fed up with religion and its hypocrisies and comes to understand that the Hell they were told about is actually the life they live currently.
In these films, The Fallen Idol, Passport to Pimlico, and Brighton Rock, all expressed the late 1940’s and early 1950’s attitude that was evident in England. People were angry and frustrated by limitations and lies that were established following the war they were a part of. Politicians were only looking after themselves and not the common folk as they should be, plus rations, laws, and taxes were beginning to draw on everyone’s patience and make everyone mad, and not to mention religion was beginning to mellow out with more people questioning the belief of Heaven and Hell and finding out that maybe the world they lived in was the real Hell. The people of England were able to watch these films and make connections to their personal lives (or even contemporary events happening at the same time or a few years prior) so that they were able to understand, root for the protagonist, or even start to make a change in things that they found dislike for. With the war ended and people coming back from the front lines, audiences were far-reaching and eager to attend films that were able to voice their disapproval for society and want for change. The war influenced generations to come with its cynicism and negativity and this holding of pessimism would last for year and decades to come and films would still be made catering to these negative emotions and themes.
Judt, Tony. “Postwar: a History of Europe since 1945 - Tony Judt.” Google Books. Web. 29 Oct. 2011. <http://books.google.com/books?id=10oPnprPjcgC>.
Moore, Andrew. “Brighton Rock.” Teachit - English Teaching Resources. Teachit, 2000. Web. 29 Oct. 2011. <http://www.teachit.co.uk/armoore/prose/brightonrock.htm>.
“Passport To Pimlico (1949) - Film Review from Film4.” Film4.com - Film4 TV, Film4 Productions and Film4 on Demand. Film4. Web. 29 Oct. 2011. <http://www.film4.com/reviews/1949/passport-to-pimlico>.
Sylow, Henrik. “Carol Reed’s - The Fallen Idol.” DVDBeaver.com - DVD Blu-ray All Regions, Reviews, Comparisons, Film. DVD Beaver. Web. 29 Oct. 2011. <http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/dvdreviews19/fallen_idol_dvd_review.ht m>.