Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Shane Meadows – a very British auteur [DB notes]

This is a great article, but even so, for it to be useful you'd need to pick out some key points. Below I've paraphrased some points, added in some additional points to link into my existing knowledge, and directly quoted where abbreviating quotes didn't seem useful. Practising note-taking is a very useful activity; this is a key skill to hone for all subjects, and time spent on this will not only benefit your Media and other A-Levels but also potential university study.

- Meadows reflects his own working-class background in his films: 'his early short films were largely financed by his dole money'!!!
- his 1997 breakthru [yes, when note-taking, abbreviations are useful!] 24.7, funded by BBC Films, was critically acclaimed, featuring common SM themes: rites-of-passage; optimistic; community; father-figures; bleak (sub)urban estates but also countryside
- 'A Room for Romeo Brass (1999) ... continued the themes of alienation and suspect role models. It also introduced the world to Shane’s friend, the actor Paddy Considine'. 'Much of the acting in the piece comes from Meadows’ use of improvisation.' - This is a common hallmark of social realist work; Mike Leigh is also famous for working without scripts
- 'FilmFour’s Once Upon a Time in the Midlands (2002) is considered by Meadows to be his weakest effort.' The rom-com featured high-profile UK stars, something he would avoid repeating, going back to social realist stylings
- 'Dead Man’s Shoes (2004) was shot on a micro-budget of less than a million pounds and was a real return to form.' The common SM theme of bullying is evident. 'The film again was largely improvised and Meadows shot the film in chronological order which gave a sense of unpredictability to the proceedings. The film is extremely violent but there is a careful balance between humour and darkness which is inherent in all of Meadows’ work.'
- and so to TisEng (2007) 'The film starts with a montage of 80s imagery, everything from Roland Rat to Duran Duran, Knight Rider and the royal wedding of Charles and Diana. Also included in this is footage of Margaret Thatcher, Conservative Prime Minister of the period – whose policies and philosophies loom large in this film. The shattering of working-class communities is a common theme in Meadows work, and in this film this is implicitly seen as a result of the Thatcherite belief in individualism and the promotion of consumerism.' (you may find the section on 'Youth cults and a sense of belonging' useful to appreciate the preferred reading)
'Shane Meadows has suggested in a number of interviews that Combo’s racist ideals are rooted in a lack of identity and uncertainty of what being English is all about. The immigrant communities had strong identities, a real sense of community and a clear culture as evidenced in areas such as music.'
'However, what is central in This is England is Shaun’s development. It is a tough rite of passage for him as he searches for a sense of belonging and very possibly a new strong father figure. In the final shots of the film, the Cross of St George flag (a present from Combo) is used to excellent effect, as Shaun throws the flag into the sea. It raises fascinating questions beyond the narrative about where he will go next and what exactly he is rejecting.'
- SM was furious at the 18cert given by the BBFC: "By having one piece of violence and one piece of really acute verbal violence I’ve managed to get an 18 certificate, whereas someone else can slay thousands of people in a single film and that’s OK. To be honest I don’t understand it because, yes, the film is affecting but I think it’s something that someone of 15 can cope with." Its 'ironic that Thomas Turgoose, the star of the film, isn’t able legally to watch the film in the cinema.' Sev local councils overturned the BBFC rating, giving it a 15 in their area.
'With the backdrop of the Falklands War, there are sharp parallels to be drawn with the present conflict in Iraq. There are still fears around youth crime and disaffection, which are clearly highlighted in the film. In many ways Shane Meadows in his own idiosyncratic fashion, crafted a film that is a very much a ‘state of the nation’ piece for how we live today. And he has managed to do this on a small budget and with considerable style and panache.'

The passages in bold suggest still briefer bulleted notes that might be taken, assuming you had taken in much of the additional material so as to be able to make sense of these when reading them back later

You have access to a lot of information for Media. For this, and any subject, a key way to work on revision is to steadily whittle down your notes and resources; once you've got (and understood) extensive notes from an article, blog post, book chapter or lesson, go back through and see if you can (i) order these [are there certain themes emerging that you can group several points with] (ii) highlight terminology and (iii) re-work your notes into a bulleted list. As you work on through your revision, aim to produce briefer and briefer notes which pull together points, ideas and examples from a combination of lessons, handouts etc. The idea, and the aim, is to eventually enable a brief phrase to stand in for a range of detail/points. Mnemonics are also v useful; I can still remember from my History A-Level (quite a few years ago!) 'SLICMA' as a neat summary of complex arguments of causes of the Spanish Civil War (separatists, landowners, industrialists, church, monarchy, army lest ye wondered)!

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