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FM 3

British Film: Identity Study:

 

'Borders and Belonging'.

 

This topic is concerned with basic questions of identity and belonging in relation to a place which is called the United Kingdom but in which "British" is an increasingly contested term.

 

The focus may be on films in which the narrative deals with the experience of migrants and asylum seekers – or in which characters question their attachment to or alienation from the idea of being "British".

 

Films could focus on migrant and minority experiences in for example Last Resort, Dirty Pretty Things, Yasmin, Ghosts and Gypo.

 

Alternatively the focus could be on national and regional identity which sets itself in opposition to a 'united kingdom' – such as Trainspotting, A Way of Life or In the Name of the Father

National identity

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 

 

National identity is the person's identity and sense of belonging to one country or to one nation, a feeling one shares with a group of people, regardless of one's citizenship status.

 

National identity is not an inborn trait.

 

Various studies have shown that a person's national identity is a direct result of the presence of elements from the "common points" in people's daily lives:

 

national symbols, language, national colors, the nation's history, national consciousness, blood ties, culture, music, cuisine, radio, television, etc.

 

The national identity of most citizens of one country or one nation tends to strengthen when the country or the nation is threatened militarily. The sense of belonging to the nation is essential as an external threat becomes more clear.

 

There are cases where national identity collides with a person's civil identity. For example, many Israeli Arabs associate themselves or are associated with the Arab or Palestinian nationality, while at the same time they are citizens of the state of Israel, which is in conflict with the Palestinians and with many Arab countries. Also, there are cases in which the national identity of a particular group is oppressed by the government in the country where the group lives. A notable example was in Spain under the authoritarian dictatorship of Francisco Franco (1939-1947) who abolished the official statute and recognition for the Basque, Galician, and Catalan languages for the first time in the history of Spain and returned to Spanish as the only official language of the State and education, although millions of the country's citizens spoke other languages.

 

 

All currently available reviews of “Gypo” at MRQE above.

Here’s a short review from Phillip French,

 

Gypo's director, Jan Dunn, and her producer, Elaine Wickham, have taken, somewhat belatedly, the Danish Dogme group's pledge of chastity, which forbids the use of soundtrack music, artificial lighting, non-source music, camera tripods and make-up.

 

The setting is working-class Ramsgate and the film centres on the break-up of a marriage between an insensitive, xenophobic Liverpudlian white-van driver (Paul McGann) and his ever-hopeful Irish wife who does night shifts at Asda (Pauline McLynn).

 

What brings about the split is their relationship with two hard-working Romany Czech immigrants, a middle-aged mother (Rula Lenska) and her pretty teenage daughter (Chloe Sirene), who are in flight from abusive Czech husbands.

 

The events, spread over a couple of days, are presented thrice, as experienced by the Englishman, his wife and the Romany girl, each with different emphases, but without Rashomon-type contradictions. It's a rough-and-ready affair, full of positive feelings, with a highly melodramatic ending and a strong infusion of unexpected lesbian romance.

Gypo

Dogme 95: The Vow of Chastity (abridged):

 

I swear to the following set of rules drawn up and confirmed by Dogme 95:

 

  1. Shooting must be done on location. Props and sets must not be brought in.

  2. The sound must never be produced apart from the image or vice-versa.

  3. The camera must be handheld. Any movement or mobility attainable in the hand is permitted.

  4. The film must be in colour. Special lighting is not acceptable.

  5. Optical work and filters are forbidden.

  6. The film must not contain superficial action.

  7. Temporal and geographical alienation are forbidden.

  8. Genre movies are not acceptable.

  9. The film format must be Academy 35mm.

 10. The director must not be credited.

 

Furthermore I swear as a director to refrain from personal taste. I am no longer an artist. I swear to refrain from creating a 'work', as I regard the instant as more important than the whole. My supreme goal is to force the truth out of my characters and settings. I swear to do so by all the means available and at the cost of any good taste and any aesthetic considerations.

 

In 1995 a collective of Danish directors, including Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg, established the manifesto above to govern the manner in which their films were to be shot.

Evamaria Trischak  More

It's hard to know who's taking the bigger risk here, Jan Dunn, resurrecting that ill-fated cinematic movement dogme 95 for her debut feature, or Pauline McLynn, taking on the role of a frustrated suburban English housewife that's as far as one could get from the parochial housekeeper whose name we dare not speak.

 

There's something so reassuringly and smugly postmodern about it, when an art movement seems dated and cliched only ten years after it first began. And certainly Gypo, with its central character a fragile women tethered to a brutal, violent husband, could come across as a tiring pastiche of mid-90s Von Trier if it wasn't for the splendid, realistic performance of Pauline McLynn and the clever (though never too clever) Rashomon structure that Dunn employs.

 

McLynn plays an over-worked, under-appreciated mother of three in the unappealingly bleak town of Margate, once a seaside resort, now a processing centre for refugees and asylum seekers. A narrow form of escape from her banal life appears in the shape of Tascha, a seventeen year-old Czech Roma friend of her teenage-mother daughter. While the girl's appearance prompts overdrive in McGlynn, it only serves to elicit a torrent of racist abuse from her husband, Paul McGann. Much like McLynn, this is a film that allows him exorcise the ghost of his most famous role in Withnail & I.

 

At times, the film does come across as just a bit too didactic, hammering home its message of multiculturalism and feminism with a less than subtle approach.

One scene, a family discussion about refugees and their representation in Britain's tabloids, does have an artificial air to it; coming across as more like bad community theatre.

 

Mostly the film does achieve that harsh realism synonymous with the dogme movement, and with a miserable female lead, an abusive male character and some vaguely leftwing politics, it certainly makes you want to see Julien Donkey-Boy or The Idiots again.

 

Aidan Beatty

 

 

Rashomon from Japan, directed by Kurosawa Akira

 

A complex film with a nonlinear narrative structure, Rashomon reveals a simple view of enduring humanity.

The intriguing picture presents several versions of the same incident—a bandit rapes a woman and the woman’s husband is murdered in the woods—as told by a group gathered around the ruins of a city gate.

 

Early critics interpreted the film as questioning the nature of truth, but Kurosawa claimed it was a portrayal of human egoism, with each of the storytellers shaping his or her version of the facts to suit selfish personal needs.