Spirit of 45 hits the mark

Ken Loach’s Spirit of 45 hit cinemas up and down Britain on March 17 and was appreciated by packed audiences from Edinburgh to Brighton.

Loach has long been an important part of the radical left anThe Spirit of 45 Dogwoof VE Day Celebrations London 1945 copyright IWMd  his work – from Cathy come home in 1966 (about homelessness) to  Land and Freedom in 1995 (set in the Spanish Civil War) and much much more has had a powerful impact on audiences.

This is even more the case with Sprit of 45 for a number of reasons.

First the release of the film comes together with a whole lot of other material which you can see on the website http://www.thespiritof45.com – an  interview with Loach himself,  a whole series of clips of people who appear in the film explaining their stories and points of view,  and a series of lively graphic timelines on different aspects of society ­– health, housing, welfare,  infrastructure and industry and how they have changed from 45 to now. Powerful tools for discussion and information – which doesn’t mean there aren’t things I would like to add or emphasis I would make differently – buts its certainly a far cry from most of what you see in the cinema…

Second after the nationwide launch on March 17, Loach together with Dot Gibson from the National Pensioners Forum and activist and commentator Owen Jones, did a question and answer session from Brixton’s Ritzy Cinema which was broadcast to over 40 cinemas simultaneously.  14 of those showings were c completely sold out – some well in advance – and all reports are of very full and enthusiastic houses with most people staying for the Q&A sessions .

Reports strongly suggest that those participating were not the usual audience at left, trade union and campaign meetings – but that on the other hand in their majority they were sympathetic to the political message behind the film. This is further underlined by the enthusiasm with which leaflets for June 22d’s Peoples Assembly (sign up here: http://www.eventbrite.com/event/5373440104?ref=ebtnebregn  if you haven’t already done so) were taken from those distributing them.

But the final and most significant reason that the Spirit of 45 is so important is that over the last few weeks, Loach has been on a mission. He has given interviews to websites and newspapers galore in most of which he has pushed the crying need for a new party which could really represent the needs of working people.  He used the Q and A session to get this idea across to the thousands who were listening to him them – and asked them to go to http://leftunity.org/appeal/ and sign his appeal for such a party. More than 800 people responded that day alone.

Join them if you haven’t already done so,

  1. Although it was only a short bus ride away from home I recognised very few of the people in the audience. It was the first time I’ve been to the cinema when I’ve known more people in the film than in the theatre. This is an incredibly positive thing. Two of us handed out leaflets for the People’s Assembly at the end of the screening and got rid of them all.

    My sense was that the audience comprised people who see themselves as left of Labour, hate the Tories, think the far left is rubbish and would be interested in something different. As Dot Gibson said in the Q and A, the film was made because of the situation we are in.

  2. I agree with comments above; it was a moving combination of original footage from the poverty of the 1930s, through WW2 to the construction of the welfare state interspersed with explanations and experiences of people who had either lives through that process or were able to explain it. However, the jump to 1979 and the Thatcher government was a bit sudden and this structure led to a couple of important elements being missed out. Firstly immigration from the Caribbean and the Asian sub-continent and secondly women’s liberation and other movements of the oppressed. Obviously it was impossible to cover everything, but I felt that in leaving these out the film missed the opportunity to appeal to current activists and social movements on the need to build a new political party of the working class. Go and see it though. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a film director call for a new political party!

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