Ken Loach is not a director who has kept his political cards close to his chest, but his latest film, The Spirit of '45 is his most direct advocacy of Socialism yet. Told with a mixture of period footage and monochrome talking heads, the film depicts the political landscape of post-Second World War Britain, and how the newly-elected Labour government utilised the country's sense of post-war unity to establish a welfare state, a National Health Service and put an end to the poverty of the 1930's. It is a fascinating snapshot of a period of British history that is often over-looked and the national mood is brilliantly captured in its use of interviews and advertisements of the time. It is no surprise that Loach has made this film in 2013 when the NHS is more at risk than ever before and welfare is being continuingly cut, but there is nothing in his film that directly compares the ideals of the Tory party of the 1970's and 80's to the Tory party of today.
There is very little in the way of balance in The Spirit of '45, with most interviews coming from miners, dockers, doctors and Tony Benn (whose presence is mandatory in any film about Socialism, and for good reason), and right-wing viewers will undoubtedly dismiss it as Socialist propaganda, but it is makes an overwhelming case for a socially responsible government, and backs it up with solid evidence that proves that it is possible to create a society that thinks beyond the individual. However, the film makes no suggestions as to how these ideals could be adopted in today's Britain: a place that would be almost unrecognisable to most of the key figures involved in this particular movement. It may come across as a little idealistic, but The Spirit of '45 shows that, with determination, empathy and generosity, something positive can be created out of the rubble.
The Spirit of '45 may be one-sided, but it's an aspirational and depressing depiction of how a Britain united by adversity created a fairer, united society, only for it to be systematically destroyed by greed and individualism. It's just a shame that it will most likely not been seen by those who need to see it most.
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