Alongside the gritty social realism of their films is a streak of humour that is uniquely British.
James Williamson 's A Reservist before the War, and After the War offered a portrait of the Boer War serviceman returning to unemployment, and was one of the first films to emphasise realism's value as social protest. In the years following World War I, it was widely felt that the key to a national cinema lay in 'realism and restraint'.
Such a view reflected the tastes of a mainly south-eastern middle-class audience. Meanwhile, working-class audiences, it was said, favoured Hollywood genre movies.
So realism carried patrician connotations of education and high seriousness. These social and aesthetic distinctions have become running themes in a cinema for which social realism is now associated with the arthouse auteur, while 'entertainment' plays at the multiplex.
Britain's contribution to cinema in the s lay in a state-sponsored documentary tradition that would feed into the s mainstream. Balconin his position as head of Ealing Studioswould become a key figure in the emergence of a national cinema characterised by stoicism and verisimilitude.
Combining the objective temper and aesthetics of the documentary movement with the stars and resources of studio filmmaking, s British cinema made a stirring appeal to a mass audience.
The 'quality film' mirrored a transforming wartime society. Women now worked in munitions factories and the services, mixing with men and challenging pre-assigned gender roles. Rationing, air raids and unprecedented state intervention in the life of the individual encouraged a 'one nation, one goal' philosophy.British Social Realism in the Arts since is an essential guide to the arts in modern Britain, an inspired and dazzling intervention in the history of our cultural present." -- John Brannigan, University College Dublin, Republic of IrelandAuthor: David Tucker.
Samira Ahmed examines British social realism in film with the hindsight of half a century.
British film is renowned for its social realism, and its interrogation of issues of poverty, race and class, as the work of these three directors reveals. British Realism Extending from the “kitchen-sink dramas” of the early sixties to contemporary masters like Ken Loach and Mike Leigh, the tradition of social realism in British film runs strong.
12 Results. The most 'typically British' of all film genres. Better than any other genre, social realism has shown us to ourselves, pushing the boundaries in the effort to put the experiences of real Britons on the screen, and shaping our ideas of what British cinema can be. British Social Realism: From Documentary to Brit Grit details and explores the rich tradition of social realism in British cinema from its beginnings in the documentary movement of the s to its more stylistically-eclectic and generically-hybrid contemporary forms.