Few filmmakers are as in touch with global social issues as Ken Loach. Whether it be exploring labor rights, poverty, independence and more, the UK director has established a vast wealth of features on various pressing topics since beginning his work in the early 1960’s. For a new documentary, he’s now set to go back to just after WWII ended to tackle the issues a post-war Britain is facing. Based on archive footage, The Spirit of ’45 constructs what looks to be a powerful and informative look at this historic time period. The documentary is set to debut at the Berlin Film Festival next week before heading into UK theaters next month and one can see the promising first trailer below.
Is the foundation of the British welfare state a lost opportunity destroyed by Thatcherism, or a project still awaiting completion? Ken Loach seeks an answer in conversations with those who remember its beginnings. The Labour Party’s surprising landslide election victory in the summer of 1945 gave it an absolute majority and ushered in the nationalisation of key industries and many services such as mining, railways, gas, electricity, steel, the docks and the Bank of England. This was soon followed by the introduction of free health care in the shape of the National Health Service. In addition, people in need were guaranteed financial support through the National Assistance Act. This ‘New Socialism’ was informed by an exemplary sense of community and class consciousness which was to endure for decades. However, almost all of these achievements were to fall victim to reforms introduced by Margaret Thatcher, prime minister from 1979 to 1990. There’s no lecturing from Ken Loach’s elderly interlocutors. Instead, they tell the kind of deeply personal stories which will soon no longer be heard.
The Spirit of ’45 premieres on February 11th at the Berlin Film Festival and then arrives in UK theaters on March 15th.
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