This Is England: British Film and the People's War, 1939-1945

This Is England: British Film and the People's War, 1939-1945

This Is England: British Film and the People's War, 1939-1945

This Is England: British Film and the People's War, 1939-1945

Synopsis

"This study is located in how British films produced during the Second World War "managed" the issue of social class in Britain within the overall situation of "total war" and its concomitant propaganda needs. Several initial assumptions underpin this. First, that in 1939 Britain was a class-based society, and that the rigid division of British society along class lines was its key defining structure, both socially and culturally. Second, that films, especially commercial entertainment films but also documentaries, are excellent sources of information about their contemporary cultures. Third, that the condition of total war in which Britain found itself a short time after the commencement of hostilities would mean that films, and indeed, all mass/popular culture, would respond to the urgency of the situation by taking a special interest in representations of British society. And fourth, following on from this, that British films of the Second World War would, one way or another, be agents of propaganda. From these propositions, the book examines just what these films had to say about social class in the images of Britain they were promulgating, with the corollaries of just how were they saying it, and why were they saying it. Alongside this is a concern with what propaganda purposes were being met by these films." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

The title of this book is borrowed from that of a crown Film Unit (CFU) film, a propaganda short made during World War ii. the film in question was called The Heart of Britain when released in Britain but was renamed This Is England for release in the United States of America. I have adopted the title for its ironic potential. the change in name no doubt reflected the perception that to Americans "England" and "Britain" were synonymous. It is also true that to a large extent the propaganda filmmakers in Britain during the war thought the same way. the images of Britain they were concerned to produce and repeat in the name of the propaganda imperative of "the people's war" were those of a mythical England. Only occasionally, and with more than a hint of tokenism, did they remember to include, for example, the "Celtic fringe" of Britain in their images of national identity. Indeed, the images of England that were made to stand duty for Britain as a whole were more often than not those of an England drawn from idyllic (even bucolic) and nostalgic images, if they had any basis in reality, of the southeast of England, tempered by the images of the metropolis of London. I will touch upon this in many ways in my examination of individual films, documentary and fictional, which constitute the body of this work.

The impetus for this study came from a desire to see just how British films produced during the Second World War managed the issue of social class in Britain within the overall situation of total war and its concomitant propaganda needs. Several initial assumptions underpinned this project. First, that in 1939 when the British government declared war upon Germany, Britain was a class-based society, and that the rigid division of British society along class lines was its key defining structure, both socially and culturally. Second . . .

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