May 07

This Isn’t England. This Is Something Else.

Do You See + FT8 comments • 2,274 views

Shane Meadows “This Is England” is an affecting portrait of skinhead life in the early eighties. Tied closely into the twin historical behemoths of the Falklands and mass unemployment, it manages to show both sides of the skinhead culture. Even if it becomes a bit too Manichean: the good nice skinheads being sidelined by the aggressive NF types, it is generously complex about all of its characters. Everyone is a bit left out, these are in some ways the leftovers of British society in the early eighties, the youth who can’t get jobs, with beer, drugs and music filling that void. And racism. The racism is why the film, with a twelve year old lead, was given an 18 certificate by the BBFC. One of the few good things Westminster council have done – er -ever is challenge the BBFC, and here you can see it at 15. Which is why possibly people more likely to be sucked in can see a cold, but brutally convincing portrayal of the frightening (but shit) allure of fascism.

The only real problem I have with the film (rubbish “meaningful” Smiths cover sequence at the end notwithstanding) is its title. “This Is England”: well no it isn’t. “This Was England”, and for all its achingly accurate period details, it is still a period film. A contemporary version made in 1983 would have been very different, possible less forgiving to the NF characters. Parts of this feel like Scum four years on, the bovver boy out of prison certainly has that hardness, but would a film at the heart of this particular rise of racism really put in the cosy scene which pops up just before the finale? So I wouldn’t call it “This Is England”, and instead highlight the absurdity of that scene, which thankfully illustrates really how influential the far right actually is in British party politics. This is what the poster should look like.



  1. 1
    Alan on 10 May 2007 #

    rubbish “meaningful” Smiths cover sequence at the end notwithstanding

    OTM – i thoroughly enjoyed almost everything about this film, then right at the end BAM, it messed up. how more stirring would the original have been. about a gajillion i reckon.

    every now and then i felt like i was watching a drama group rather than a film, but ony because some scenes were so theatrical and monologuey. there i guess it was a stylistic choice possibly to contrast with the predominant naturalistic pose.

  2. 2
    Alan on 10 May 2007 #

    the soundtrack to 24seven coincided with the ‘quiet is the new loud’ fad (you know, turin brakes, etc), but that was years ago. no good excuse for acoustic strained-throat potato-faced singer cover versions any more, meadows

  3. 3
    Pete Baran on 10 May 2007 #

    The version of Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want is by Clayhill. Of whom I can say nothing.

  4. 5
    Emma on 11 May 2007 #

    If it had been called This Was England you would not have been able to have a drink if you were watching it and playing that drinking game. Whereas it being called This Is England means you can take a big swig of White Ace in the middle of Combo’s speech quite early on in the film.

  5. 6
    Artur on 23 Oct 2007 #

    This is England is the best fucking movie in the fucking world!

  6. 7
    babsi on 1 Apr 2008 #

    this film is a pretty bad portrayal of skinheads……..
    well for one i am a skinhead and im 14 and have been a skin since i was 12 before the release of the film.
    there is no mention of scooter rallys there is no portrailal of vicous left-wing skinheads (beleive me the commies and anti-nazis are worse).
    there are no punk gigs or soul nights or any scenes of football hooliganism wich these are central to my way of life. also majority of skinheads dont smoke weed and are more preoccupied with beer. and usualy in real skinhead crews the trojan ska skins n suedeheads will have right wing friends who some of wich will be considerd neo-nazis.
    because we beleive were all proud to be english and whats the point in fighting.

  7. 8
    Rose on 17 Sep 2009 #

    i love this film, although it doesn’t cover everything about what happened with skinhead culture, it really is a personal piece from the directors expierence as young boy growing up in that enviroment.
    It is his portrayel of skinheads, and what they meant to him, his friends etc
    ah well
    go Shane

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