By Thanzila Khatun
As last month’s brilliant ‘Films For Life’ season came to an end, I felt it was only appropriate to pretty much gush, slightly sycophantically, about the channel that brings greatness onto our screens on a regular basis: Film4 (which I would be bold enough to deem a bloomin’ great British institution). When it comes to films, time and time again the channel demonstrates its keen eye for cinematic brilliance by continually championing great films. A perfect example of this is the aforementioned ‘Films For Life’ season. The whole of April was dedicated to showing nothing but classic films which “stand the test of time” and I have to admit, the vast majority included in the season were phenomenal choices of film.
Film4 are good at selecting fantastic films for our viewing pleasure (free, mind you) from all over the world, both old and new, for those of us too lazy to rummage through IMDB to uncover them all by ourselves. But what I’d like to pay particular attention to and was most proud and excited by is the inclusion of several home-grown British films in the season schedule.
Take, as an example, Dead Man’s Shoes (2004) by Shane Meadows, a compelling and emotive, yet harrowing picture set in our very own Midlands. The film presents us with disturbing, terrifying images of Richard, a hardened ex-soldier, seeking violent retribution against a local gang of men who repeatedly bullied and humiliated his mentally disabled younger brother whilst he was away in the army. During this murderous revenge process it seems Richard attempts to gain some form of redemption for having left his brother exposed for several years at the hands of the perpetrators. The attacks are mercilessly brutal and in any other context such scenes would be considered callous and inhumane; yet strikingly the viewer never strays from the side of the killer as the story unravels.
That was just an example of a British film one cannot afford to miss, but there are so many more British films, some widely known, some less so, which I could go into depth about. However, to keep things short, I’ll name drop instead with a strong recommendation for you to watch each one: Control, This is England, Withnail and I, A Clockwork Orange, Trainspotting, Get Carter, Chariots of Fire, Sexy Beast, and the list goes on…
Film4 not only showcases talented works, they are also involved in producing them. Recent examples of films made by Film4 Productions include the widely acclaimed Submarine by Richard Ayoade, and the current, also well received Attack the Block by Joe Cornish. Both films reside at complete opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of storylines and genre; the former is about a young adolescent boy experiencing first love whilst simultaneously trying to prevent his parents’ troubled marriage from dissolving, while the latter is about an invasion of aggressive aliens in a rough estate in South London. Interestingly though, both films are debuts for the aforementioned Directors. In a climate in which Hollywood seems to be relying more and more on proven formulas through remakes, adaptations and sequels, I am extremely gratified to know that Film4, and by extension the British film industry, are not afraid to be daring and to take a risk with new material.
I am not suggesting that Hollywood does not also produce gems from time to time; in fact the history of cinema will prove that is not the case at all. However, considering our puny funds which have recently taken a further colossal blow, British Cinema, I am pleased and proud to say, is still holding its own. Yes, it’s true we rarely, if ever, come an iota close to matching the Hollywood studios with their massive budgets and iconic glamour. But we’re not interested in churning out money-making movies, we make films, and there is the difference. Films made by British film-makers are continually thought-provoking, the passion for the story and film making process oozing from every take, every shot, every score. So we don’t churn out blockbuster after blockbuster, gaining the biggest box office ratings or the highest gross income – but who needs all that when we have style and quality?
What I’m trying to say in this convoluted fashion is that Film4 is an institution which knows film and knows Britain, and they certainly know how to showcase its talents. I for one am an avid fan, and I eagerly anticipate further new and exciting ventures in British film to expand the already flourishing British film cannon.
So there we have it. That’s my big uncompromisingly slobbery kiss to British cinema, and of course Film4, which (I cannot stress this enough) is available for FREE! Did I also mention four is my favourite number? Just sayin’…
Thanzila Khatun is a King’s College London graduate in English Language and Literature. She is the Sub-editor for Culture at The Platform.
Photograph by Rukia Begum, exclusively for The Platform. Artwork exclusively for The Platform.
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