This week, Neil Calloway suggests some films that explain why Britain voted to leave the EU…
Your social media feeds have been full of it for the past few days, with updates from people who you never knew were so politically engaged, but if you’re still confused as to why Britain voted to leave the EU, and what will happen next (and if you’re not confused about what will happen next, you should be), here are some films that might help explain why Britain voted to leave the EU.
The Full Monty – it was released almost twenty years ago now, but The Full Monty, and Brassed Off before it, show people struggling to cope in a post industrial Northern England; where once they had secure, unionised, relatively well paid jobs in traditional industries (be they coal mining or steel manufacturing), they are cast out into the unknown; living in industrial towns in a post industrial world. Those towns have never really recovered, and it’s those places that have voted to leave the EU, possibly in a bid to regain the old feelings of community and the old industries.
The Italian Job – Britain has always had an odd relationship with Europe, partly disliking it and partly admiring it, and the British lads on a jolly in Europe, taking on those sneaky foreigners has never been bettered than it was in The Italian Job. It’s worth noting that its star Michael Caine was one of the few entertainment figures to have backed Brexit, and those people who voted to leave but are now regretting it might be thinking of his immortal line “You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off.”
Notting Hill – the referendum was cast as a battle between the working classes and the out of touch London elite, and no films shows the out of touch London elite like the work of Richard Curtis, with Notting Hill the prime example; white middle class people go about their business in London unencumbered by any real issues. The out of touch London elite don’t really exist, apart from in this film.
Dheepan – last year’s Palme d’Or winner is a searing tale of the one issue that dominated the referendum debate; immigration. It tell of people struggling to leave a war zone to make a better life, struggling in France before finally finding happiness and safety in Britain. Sections of the media have always played up the idea that every refugee or economic migrant in the world wants to come to Britain, and here it was shown as partly true.
Passport to Pimlico – this 1949 Ealing comedy shows what happens when a district of London discovers that due to an ancient agreement that was never rescinded, it is still part of Burgundy. As the British government has no jurisdiction, the post war rationing laws are no longer valid, and eventually the “border” is closed to stop people entering and buying items unavailable in Britain. After ups and downs and various escapades, Pimlico eventually returns to being part of Britain and everything is OK in the end. Whether this will be the model for what happens now Britain is leaving the EU, or whether the semi-serious campaign for London to leave Britain will grow, is not clear at the moment, but it offers a fun possibility as to what might happen.
Some people might say that a newly independent Britain will be a dystopian Philip K Dick story, others will say that it will be an enjoyable tale with a happy ending; only time will tell, but these films give an idea of why the vote went the way it did.
Neil Calloway is a pub quiz extraordinaire and Top Gun obsessive. Check back here every Sunday for future instalments.