If you want to drop a plumb line into the soul of England today, you could do worse than to watch the two biggest-grossing films in Britain last weekend – Spectre and The Lady in the Van.
…. each is soaked through with an idea of England and English values under attack, a nostalgia which is shared on the political left as well as the right.
a global conspiracy bringing government and business together in a sinister public-private partnership.
What is arresting about Spectre, beyond the killing, car chases and special effects, is the film’s melancholic, almost elegiac mood, as if the spirit that made Britain powerful, democratic, free and tolerant – in a word, great – is smouldering in the ruins of the MI6 building on the Thames.
Bennett’s nostalgia is for the England that created the welfare state, nationalised the railways and introduced comprehensive education, all rolled back by Margaret Thatcher and her successors.
Corbyn himself also embodies a very English style of left-wing radicalism.
It’s not clear which of the two films Denis Staunton likes. Or if he likes either one of them. He appears to be uncomfortable with nostalgia. What does he make of the nostalgia-fest Brooklyn, an emigration drama set in Ireland and New York? Is it the case that simple notions of left and right are not as readily deployed in Ireland and placing a film in that way is not straightforward?
You can read Denis Staunton’s article here.
Feature Image credit: teaser-trailer.com