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Shane Meadows

Shane Meadows: Critical Essays

Martin Fradley
Sarah Godfrey
Melanie Williams
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Shane Meadows
    Book Description:

    From his breakthrough short films in the early 1990s and feature debut TwentyFourSeven (1997) through to the BAFTA-winning This Is England (2007) and hit television spin-off, director Shane Meadows has emerged as one of the most distinctive and influential voices in contemporary British cinema. Danny Perkins, CEO of StudioCanal UK, credits Meadows as the key figure in British film’s contemporary renaissance, with This Is England "doing more than any other [film] to change British audiences' attitudes" to home-grown cinema. This book will explore the full range of Meadows’ work, from its origins in local D.I.Y. media through to international festival acclaim. Over the course of its 15 chapters, it will present a comprehensive analysis of Meadows’ oeuvre to date, situating it in the context of British cinema history as well as wider cultural changes from the nineties to now.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-7640-8
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. v-v)
  4. Notes on the Contributors
    (pp. vi-viii)
  5. CHAPTER 1 Introduction: Shane’s World
    (pp. 1-20)
    Martin Fradley, Sarah Godfrey and Melanie Williams

    If any one moment marked Shane Meadows’ indelible entry into the British cinema canon, it was the victory ofThis is England(2006) in the best film category at the 2008 BAFTAs. Just asThis is Englandwas a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age drama, this award-ceremony victory represented a parallel ‘coming-of-age’ in Meadows’ filmmaking career. Triumphing over a particularly glossy roster of nominated films – David Cronenberg’sEastern Promises, rock biopicControl, the sweeping historical spectacleAtonementand political action thrillerThe Bourne Ultimatum(all 2007) – the low-budgetThis is Englandcertainly stood out among its competitors. Moreover, as perhaps the...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Structure and Agency: Shane Meadows and the New Regional Production Sectors
    (pp. 21-34)
    Jack Newsinger

    What is it that changed in the British film industry in the mid-1990s that allowed a working-class young man with a regional accent to develop a career making films almost exclusively set and shot in the Midlands? Part of the answer to this question must, of course, include Shane Meadows’ personal agency: his determination, his creativity, his proficiency as a director, and so on. However, while these qualities should not be underestimated, they are only half the answer. While Meadows and his collaborators have utilised very effectively the opportunities and resources available to them, this chapter focuses on what created...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Twenty-first-Century Social Realism: Shane Meadows and New British Realism
    (pp. 35-49)
    David Forrest

    When we think of British realist cinema we think of Ken Loach, Mike Leigh, Alan Clarke and the British New Wave, among others, and it is testament to the importance of the subject of this collection that – for someone who has only been making feature films since the late 1990s – we now think of Shane Meadows. Meadows has emphatically continued the progression and diversification of arguably Britain’s richest cinematic tradition. He is a unique filmmaker who can be understood both within the lineage of the realist mode and as a maverick who breaks as many moulds as he...

  8. CHAPTER 4 ‘Al fresco? That’s up yer anus, innit?’ Shane Meadows and the Politics of Abjection
    (pp. 50-67)
    Martin Fradley

    As usual, it begins innocuously enough. Prompted by his friend Shane Meadows politely enquiring whether the actor has enjoyed his lunch, Paddy Considine’s extrapolated digressions quoted above typify the enjoyably lewd and irreverent tone of Meadows’ DVD commentary tracks. Casually expressing their mutual boredom at the laborious process of narrating on earlier work, the conversation soon descends into tangential disarray: a series of raucous exchanges including anecdotes about youthful encounters with pornography, being caught masturbating and Considine’s cheerful description of Meadows’ dog emptying his bowels. However, absent from this transcription of the actor’s scatological stream-of-consciousness is Meadows’ own contribution: an...

  9. CHAPTER 5 No More Heroes: The Politics of Marginality and Disenchantment in TwentyFourSeven and This is England
    (pp. 68-82)
    Jill Steans

    In an interview inIndie London(2006), Shane Meadows referred toThis is Englandas ‘probably the closest thing I’ll ever make to a political film’. In this chapter I argue that bothThis is England(2006) and his late-’90s debut featureTwentyFourSeven(1997) speak to the political zeitgeist of time and place.TwentyFourSevendoes not engage with political themes in an overt way, and, indeed, the youths who occupy the world of the film are entirely disengaged from mainstream politics. However, it does not follow that it is a non-political film. As Martin Fradley observes: ‘although never directly mentioned,...

  10. CHAPTER 6 ‘Now I’m the monster’: Remembering, Repeating and Working Through in Dead Man’s Shoes and TwentyFourSeven
    (pp. 83-94)
    Paul Elliott

    Freud’s essay ‘Remembering, repeating and working through’ appears remarkably early on in his conception of the compulsion to repeat, an idea that would come to obsess him for the rest of his life and that would find ultimate expression in the latter chapters ofBeyond the Pleasure Principle. ‘Remembering, repeating and working through’, as M. Guy Thompson tells us, is arguably the most dense of all his technical papers; in a few short pages it manages to dismiss the technique of hypnosis, assert the importance of transference, explore the relationship between memory and repression and suggest ways that encysted trauma...

  11. CHAPTER 7 ‘An object of indecipherable bastardry – a true monster’: Homosociality, Homoeroticism and Generic Hybridity in Dead Man’s Shoes
    (pp. 95-110)
    Clair Schwarz

    Following his creative disappointment with the Film 4-funded Western pasticheOnce Upon a Time in the Midlands, Shane Meadows’ subsequent film,Dead Man’s Shoes, saw a return to a smaller budget, complete directorial control over the final edit and a positive director–producer relationship with Mark Herbert of Warp Films. Co-written with lead actor Paddy Considine,Dead Man’s Shoescan be seen as a creative reaction against the filmmaker’s negative experience withMidlands, an attempt to creatively ‘erase’ the aberrant film. Meadows clearly alludes to this motivation during his talk at the Brief Encounters Film Festival held in Bristol in...

  12. CHAPTER 8 A Message to You, Maggie: 1980s Skinhead Subculture and Music in This is England
    (pp. 111-126)
    Tim Snelson and Emma Sutton

    As the above quotation suggests, Shane Meadows’This is England(2006) mediates the 1980s through a nostalgic rendering of subcultural resistance via key iconographic and musical cues. In so doing, the film engenders an idealised image of skinhead subculture – or more accurately subcultures – that recalls the romanticised sociological accounts of Birmingham University’s Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies from the 1970s and early 1980s. Reproducing these early subcultural scholars’ focus on the ‘magical realms’ of ritual and style (Cohen 1972), Meadows juxtaposes the lush colours, dreamlike slow motion and joyful non-diegetic soundtrack of the skinhead gang – at least...

  13. CHAPTER 9 Changing Spaces of ‘Englishness’: Psychogeography and Spatial Practices in This is England and Somers Town
    (pp. 127-141)
    Sarah N. Petrovic

    Shane Meadows is a filmmaker whose use of space reflects the changing state of English society and culture. Following the British cinema tradition of social realism represented by Mike Leigh, Ken Loach and Alan Clarke, Meadows makes use of organic, improvisational filmmaking to explore the effects of multiculturalism in the working class, focusing predominantly on its youth. All of Meadows’ films are driven by location and space, but in particular, two of Meadows’ films,This is England(2006) andSomers Town(2008), contend with the issue of hybridity, or the melding of previously separated cultures, via the experiences of their...

  14. CHAPTER 10 ‘Shane, don’t film this bit’: Comedy and Performance in Le Donk and Scor-zay-zee
    (pp. 142-154)
    Brett Mills

    Le Donk and Scor-zay-zeeis a significant film within Meadows’ work because it is, as its DVD blurb attests, a ‘comedy’. This places it at odds with the dominant assumptions related to Meadows, which, while acknowledging comic moments are common in his films, categorise him primarily not as a comedic director. This means that reviews and previews forLe Donkoften note that while the film has clear similarities to others directed by Meadows, it is of a different sort from what is normally expected of him. For example, inThe ObserverSean O’Hagan notes how Paddy Considine’s performance, in...

  15. CHAPTER 11 ‘Them over there’: Motherhood and Marginality in Shane Meadows’ Films
    (pp. 155-170)
    Louise FitzGerald and Sarah Godfrey

    As has been highlighted in this collection, Shane Meadows’ persona as a white, working-class man from a deprived community in post-industrial Britain is inexorably connected to his status as a contemporary British auteur. Recurrent links between his proletarian Midlands background and the thematic and aesthetic concerns of his films made by both critics and the filmmaker himself reinforce the narrative construction of Meadows as a filmmaker with a particularly authentic worldview (Romney 2004). Meadows’ cinematic vision is informed by and indebted to his own position at the ‘social and geographical margins’ (Fradley 2010: 290); the worlds he presents are the...

  16. CHAPTER 12 ‘What do you think makes a bad dad?’ Shane Meadows and Fatherhood
    (pp. 171-185)
    Martin Fradley and Seán Kingston

    Like its predecessors in Meadows’ hugely popular film and television cycle,This is England ’88(2011) begins with a poignantly hauntological montage of archival news footage from the 1980s. Evocatively fuzzy, the sweepingly impressionistic series of analogue video images reaffirms Meadows’ insistence on understanding the 1980s as a kind of national primal scene: a traumatic era in which social and political upheaval becomes irrevocably entangled with popular and personal memory. This expressionist strategy is exemplified by what are perhaps the most disturbing moments in Meadows’ career to date. The protracted sequence featuring Lol’s hospitalisation following a suicide attempt powerfully conflates...

  17. CHAPTER 13 Is This England ’86 and ’88? Memory, Haunting and Return through Television Seriality
    (pp. 186-202)
    David Rolinson and Faye Woods

    This chapter will discuss the Channel Four serialsThis is England ’86andThis is England ’88in their specific television contexts. Although these serials form a transmedia narrative as sequels to the filmThis is England, we seek to engage with their televisuality, both textually (their style, their reference to antecedents and their use of archive television footage) and extra-textually (their promotional strategies and place within institutional discourses). Our analysis is framed by the serials’ key themes – the weight of the past as revealed in returns, hauntings and traumatic memory – which are facilitated by the larger space...

  18. CHAPTER 14 After Laughter Comes Tears: Passion and Redemption in This is England ’88
    (pp. 203-209)
    Robert Murphy

    This is England ’88, set over three days at Christmas, begins starkly with three awakenings. Lol (Vicky McClure), her chirpy platinum-blonde hair from ’86now a fierce Chrissie Hynde black, looks haggard and unhappy at being woken by a toddler whose appearance indicates that Lol’s affair with Milky in ’86has had consequences beyond their mutual betrayal of Woody. An alarm clock wakes Woody (Joseph Gilgun). We last saw him at the end of ’86arranging a surprise wedding for Lol while she was battering her father to death with a hammer. Now he leaps out of the bed he...

  19. Index
    (pp. 210-216)