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									Social Realism
       Alice Humphreys
Setting, characters, generic conventions-

One of the main aims of social realism
films is to depict realistic and everyday
situations, as the messages that social
realism films carry, are often to protest
about, or reveal social and racial injustice,
economic hardship; through unvarnished
pictures of life’s struggle; often depicting
working class activities as heroic.

For social realism to show the social
struggle, injustice of society, tarnished
morals and standards of living, a serious,
realistic, and direct atmosphere must be
created for the audience to connect with
the characters, emotion and message, and
not get distracted by special effects, ‘over
the top’ music, over complicated structure,
Natural, dull, un-forced lighting is often used
continuously and throughout to focus fully on the
character/location. Close-ups and extreme close
ups are frequently used to engage the audience
to the characters and fully see their emotions and
reactions. Using close up shots will build a sense
of relationship and familiarity with the audience
and the character, encouraging sympathy and
empathy, pulling in the audience’s attention and

In many contemporary social realism films, such
as ‘This is England’ directed by Shane Meadows,
montages of locations or characters, without
speech, will be shown at points to fully create a
sense of location, and time. Location shots are
often un-dramatised and simple, showing gritty
and realistic places that are often thought to be
related with lower and working classes.
Characters represented in social realism films are
often working class, either seen as heroic, or
 or if the other extreme; upper/middle class
characters, who usually represent greed and
selfishness, or naivety.
Examples of social realism
films from 1961 to 2009

• A Taste of Honey, Directed by Tony
Richardson- 1961
• A Kind of Loving, Directed by John
Schlesinger- 1962
• Kes, directed by Ken Loach, 1969
• Trainspotting, Directed by Danny Boyle-
• East is East, directed by Damien
O’Donnel- 1999
• Billy Elliot, directed by Stephen Daldry-
• Bend it Like Beckham, directed by
Gurinda Chadha- 2002
• This is England, Directed by Shane
Meadows- 2006
• London to Brighton, Directed by Paul
Andrew williams- 2006
• Fish Tank, Directed by Andrea Arnold-
Why are Social Realism Films so Popular?
                   Rather than fictional, exaggerated,
                   unbelievable and ‘over the top’ films, social
                   realism films have the factor of ‘hitting
                   home’ with social issues and gritty realism
                   and people and audiences truly can connect
                   to. Socially realistic films deal with these
                   issues and present the characters in an un-
                   sensored, un-masked and ‘in your face’ way,
                   that make audiences deal with racial and
                   social issues, and economic hardships that
                   many want to hide away from, giving these
                   films a feel of importance, bravery and
                   honesty, that often shock audiences as well
                   as educate them.
Comparing an old Social realism
Trailer, with a New one..
Kes, Directed By Ken Loach, 1969

           Fish tank, directed by Andrea Arnold, 2009
Comparing an old Social realism Trailer,
with a New one..

  Even though ‘Kes’ was released 40 years before ‘Fish Tank’, similar
  generic conventions are used, such as, simple and obvious camera
  angles and natural lighting to give a more realistic and natural
  atmosphere, a montage of unpleasant or taboo situations (such as a
  child being hit, getting into a fight, etc) that the main character comes
  across; showing the world of the film in an unvarnished, ‘real life’ way,
  etc. The trailers are also similar in the way that they both use simple
  and slow credits and intertitles, that offer information about cast,
  director , ratings and review quotes.

  The two trailers differentiate in ways mainly due to the time period in
  which they were produced. Things like the quality of the images, and
  the language and accent.
Examples of Social Realism Films

  Fish Tank was Directed by Andre
  Arnold and was released in 2009
  Just from watching the trailer it is easy to see the
  use of social realism’s most common generic
  conventions. The film allows you to peer, is a
  realistic and unvarnished way, into the world of
  a working class girl, living in a council estate flat,
  and her struggles with family life, living
  conditions and trying to follow her passion. Fish
  tank was quoted as “The most honoured British
  film of the year” and won 3 European and 8
  British film award nominations, including best
  actress, best director and best film.

  On the next slide there are visual examples of
  how in camera composition, lighting, characters
  and setting is used in the film, and how it fits in
  clearly to the Social Realism Genre.

Trainspotting is a 1996 Social realism/drama film directed by Danny Boyle, based on the novel of the same name
by Irvine Welsh. The movie follows a group of heroin addicts in a late 1980s economically depressed area of
Edinburgh and their passage through life. The film fits into the Social Realism theme through its use of common
generic conventions, such as characters, lighting, music and the way it shows you in an un masked way, the
realistic life style and social world of a group of heroin addicts, and questions society’s idea of ‘leading a normal
life’, especially in the ending speech:

“So why did I do it? I could offer a million answers, all false. The truth is that I'm a bad person, but that's going to
change, I'm going to change. This is the last of this sort of thing. I'm cleaning up and I'm moving on, going straight
and choosing life. I'm looking forward to it already. I'm going to be just like you: the job, the family, the fucking
big television, the washing machine, the car, the compact disc and electrical tin opener, good health, low
cholesterol, dental insurance, mor tgage, starter home, leisurewear, luggage, three-piece suite, DIY, game shows,
junk food, children, walks in the park, nine to five, good at golf, washing the car, choice of sweaters, family
Christmas, indexed pension, tax exemption, clearing the gutters, getting by, looking ahead, to the day you die .”

On the next slide you will find some visual examples of how the film has used social realism’s
generic conventions, such as camera angles, lighting and setting.
The Unloved
The directorial debut from Oscar-nominated actress
Samantha Morton, this powerful drama about a young girl
growing up in a children's home provides an intimate
child's-eye view of the UK's care system.

Samantha Morton's directorial debut is a powerful single
drama about a young girl growing up in a children's home.
Working alongside acclaimed writer Tony Grisoni, Morton
has created a fictional script that gives an honest and
intimate child's-eye view of the care system in the UK.
Filmed in Morton's hometown of Nottingham, the two
young leads - Molly Windsor as Lucy, and Lauren Socha as
Lauren - were cast through a series of open auditions held
across Nottingham schools, drama groups and at The
Television Workshop, which Morton herself attended aged

Head of Channel 4 drama, Liza Marshall, says: 'We at
Channel 4 are very excited to be supporting Sam in her first
directorial venture. This is a story very close to her heart,
and her empathy and understanding of children in care
should make for an exceptional film.

The Telegraph's Michael Deacon gave the film a positive
review describing it as 'Riveting' and 'Powerful from start to
finish'; On the other hand, he stated the film was 'Stomach
churning' and 'Hard to watch'; however to his surprise he
Filmed entirely on location in Nottingham, the film
cost £1.5million to make. The title of the film was
inspired by a newspaper article Morton had read
about children in the care system .Morton spent time
in other cities such as Newcastle, Glasgow and around
London although decided it was best to make a film
about the world she knew and grew up in. Originally
wanting to set the film in 1989, Morton later decided
against it as she wanted to focus on the struggles of
the present day and not want audiences to write it off
as a historical piece. The scene where Lucy witnesses
the rape of Lauren didn't have Windsor present at the
time as it was deemed inappropriate; her involvement
in the scene was filmed separately and added later.
Blurred, awkward angles, to create the sense of
confusion and un-understanding that the child feels.

•Long, empty, calm and simple shots to contrast with
the quick paced edited shots, that create the sense of
boredom and loss.
•Smooth yet handheld camera movements, seems
less staged and more realistic
•Completely realistic lighting; fits in with the realism

On the next slide you will find some visual examples of how the
film has used social realism’s generic conventions, such as
camera angles, lighting and setting.

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