If there’s one thing Britain does well, its film, and we’ve been doing it bloody well for over a century. British cinema has gone from strength to strength, from decade to decade with films that have received international acclaim, and has produced some of the most successful franchises of all time.
To celebrate the release of compelling British drama The Pass, which comes to DVD April 10th, we are taking a look at the very best of British cinema.
Booze, football and banter – it might not sound glamorous but it is quintessentially British, and that is what The Pass delivers. The film opens to a hotel room in Romania where Jason (Russell Tovey) and Ade (Arinzé Kene) are having a laugh, pushing each other around and then… kiss. What seems like a simple kiss at the time sends shockwaves through the next decade of their lives, as they separate onto vastly different paths. The Pass originated on the UK’s West End as a play by the same name, with Russell Tovey, Nico Mirallegro and Lisa McGrillis reprising their roles from the stage to the screen. The Review
The King’s Speech
Perhaps one of the most decorated British films in history, The King’s Speech won a Golden Globe, four Academy Awards and seven BAFTAs. The film follows the true tale of King George VI who ascended to the throne of the British Monarchy after the sudden abdication of his brother. This truly emotive and masterful performance centers on the relationship between the new king and his speech therapist ahead of the King’s first broadcast announcement – declaring war on Nazi Germany.
The Full Monty
The once-successful steel mills of Sheffield have closed, and a group of unemployed former mill workers must rally together to raise money for ‘Gaz’ to pay off his child support obligations. A hilarious spectacle ensues with the group forming their own strip-tease act, and despite the film’s comedic nature, some serious subjects are touched upon such as working class culture, fathers’ rights and depression.
Secrets & Lies
Marianne Jean-Baptiste stars as Hortense, a young black Londoner who was adopted as a baby and decides to pursue her birth mother – only to find out that she is white, working class and has a severely dysfunctional family! As a realistic, passionate and (at times) harsh performance it is of no surprise that Secrets & Lies won the ‘Palme d’Or’ at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival, with a volley of other awards following suit. The film became one of the most notable works of British director Mike Leigh, who went on to direct the Golden Lion and Vera Drake and has become an affirmed name in British cinema.
Following the tragic loss of her husband to Leukemia, Annie Clarke (Julie Walters) and a small group of her Women’s Institute colleagues (including Chris Harper, played by the immensely talented Helen Mirren) decide to raise money for charity. How? By creating a nude calendar where the women pose in traditional WI activities – such as baking and knitting – which became a national and international hit! Poking fun at British modesty, the film is charming and hilarious, deserving of its British Comedy Award for sure.
Pride, the effortlessly warm film that tells the true story of how a group of gay activists came together to support the striking miners in the Eighties, is a story that might never have been told, but thankfully has been. The BAFTA-winning film immortalises the campaign by Lesbians and Gays Support The Miners. They raised over £22,000 for the impoverished Welsh mining community of Dulais and formed deep and lasting friendships with the people affected by Margaret Thatcher’s pit closures. Since Pride was released, the group has reconvened. You never know, there might be a sequel in the making!