Sunday, 9 November 2014


Social Realism History

What is Social Realism?
Social realism is a genre in film where filmmakers draw attention to the everyday 
conditions of the working class and the poor, and who are critical of the social 
structures that maintain these conditions. In the current era topics such as 
drugs, sex, money, religion and political views are normally highlighted as 
the key theme in Social Realist films; this has changed since the genre of 
social realism was first uncovered as it was mainly focused on political 
view's at the time; especially in the 1960s.
Kes Cover
Britain's contribution to cinema in the 1930s lay in a state-sponsorer documentary tradition that would feed into the 1940s mainstream. Producer Michael Balcon revived the social/aesthetic distinction when he referred to the British industry's longstanding rivalry with Hollywood in terms of 'realism and tinsel'. Balcon, in his position as head of Ealing Studios, would 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, 1940s British cinema made a stirring appeal to a mass audience. 

Ladybird Ladybird Cover

 Descendants of the realist flowering at the BBC in the 1960s, Ken Loach and Mike Leigh assessed the impact of the consumer society on family life, charting the erosion of the welfare state and the consensus that built it. Looking back, Loach's work seems to reflect the shift from the collectivist mood of the war years to the individualism of the postwar decades in its very form. Loach's films went from the improvised long-take naturalism of Poor Cow and Kes (both 1969) to the 'social melodrama' of Raining Stones(1993) and Ladybird Ladybird (1994), wider social issues now explored via emotional and dramatic individual stories. The breakdown of the collective consensus in postwar Britain seems to be captured in the tragicomic exchanges of Mike Leigh's Life is Sweet (1990), Naked (1993) and Secrets and Lies (1996). In these films, Leigh examined the fractures in domestic and social life wrought by divisive Thatcherite policies in an increasingly fragmented and multicultural Britain. If the New Wave short-sightedly blamed women for the blighting of British manhood, women in Loach and Leigh are often complex and powerful individuals.
Life is Sweet Cover
  • Location Shooting - The locations that are shot in social realist films are usually shot in a natural, realistic environment such as council estates or parks without the use of a studio unlike big Hollywood films.
  • Types of Shot's - Usually in social realist films a lot of establishing shots are used to give the audience a bigger insight of the environment. Also handheld camera's are used a lot in a documentary style to get the preferred reading of a real life film.
  • Unknown Actors - Normally unknown actors are used purely because film company's who produce social realism films cannot afford big stars to act for them.
  • Semi-improvised scripts - Sometimes directors such as Ken Loach use semi-improvised scripts to make the film have more 'realistic' dialogue. He used this in the film 'Kes'.
  • Social Issues - Many social issues are explored in social realist films such as in 'The Full Monty' where we see the issue of unemployment explored.
  • Religious View's - Religious view's are shown in social realist films for example in 'East is East', the conflict between the farther being a committed muslim and the rest of his children wanting to be normal children growing up in Britain.
Social Realism Examples

List of social realist films
  • The Full Monty (1997)
  • Mickybo and Me (2004)
  • Billy Liar (1963)
  • East is East (1999)
  • West is West (2010)
  • Kes (1969)
  • Naked (1993)
  • Tyrannosaur (2011)
Here is 'Cathy Come Home' by Ken Loach

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