Sunday, 3 July 2011

Proud to Be British (1973) - Nick Broomfield

So so documentary from everyone's favourite Marmite documentarian. The actual on screen title is 'England and Class', but I guess somewhere along the line that got changed to Proud to Be British. This was Broomfield's first synched sound effort, and since Broomfield hadn't hooked up with long time collaborator Joan Churchill yet, he handles camera duties himself rather than his usual soundman role. To be honest his camera work is quite lifeless, he even throws in some odd high angle shots at one point which feel totally wrong.

Anyway the film takes place in and around Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire, England. Here we meet a working class family, the local lord of the manor, the Conservative member of parliament and the local vicar. Basically they all wax lyrical about the problems that Britain is going through, placing the blame squarely at the feet of the immigrant population. It's this stuff that was most interesting in a time capsule way. The local Tory thought the British marching around the globe and making countries part of the Commonwealth a wonderful idea, and was of the opinion that those same countries lamented the day we left them (with pockets weighed down with loot). However the very idea of those 'darkies' coming over to our country appalled him, despite the fact that they're part of his beloved Commonwealth. Silly man.

So there's plenty of the old 'I'm not a racist, but…', and 'I can't be racist since I've worked with colourds', type of nonsense. At one point one person even accuses those foreign types of not wanting to mix with us 'sticking to their own, and forming ghettos which we then get blamed for'. Great stuff, absolute gold. The problem is that Broomfield was too young and inexperienced (he was still at film school) to make the best of use of such material. Then there are other little things such as the footage from a scout troop and a local girls school. It feels like Broomfield is trying to shoehorn in too many things into too short a running time. But as I say the guy was still at school, so it's all forgivable.

So to sum up I'd say that this is worth seeing if you've been through the rest of Broomfield's oeuvre, otherwise it's probably not engaging enough for the casual punter. I'll leave you with my favourite quote from the film, it came from some bloke on horseback out fox hunting - 'we have the wrong type of immigrants here, the unintelligent ones'. What a cock.

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