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Social Realism Film. Luke Conboy. Narrative Themes.

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Social Realism Film

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narrative themes
Narrative Themes

British social realism films are often set in working class environments and feature typically working class people. For example, the film ‘Kes’ is set in the northern town of Barnsley, in which most of the residents in this town would go work in the mines – or “down pit” as it was commonly called during this time. Working in the mines is an example of working class hardships, working in the mine was often arduous and relatively un-safe.

‘Kidulthood’ is an example of modern film that is set in a working class environment. This film features a group of teenagers growing up in West London, in which the characters typically conform to the typical teenager stereotype – hoodie wearing, violent etc.

This is the main character Billy, whom cares for an orphaned kestrel. In working class life, it’s the simple things that make life enjoyable.

A typical hoodie wearing teenager with threatening facial expressions.


Release Date: 20 June 2008

This film is a sequel to Kidulthood, it follows a group of young adults who a very much involved in gang life and the repercussions that come with it. The film starts off with events that happened six years ago (what happened in the previous film). This film shows many typical objects that are associated with troubled youths. For example: knives and hoodies.

The characters in this film are predominantly black. This is done on purpose as stereotypically, gangs in London involve black people more so than any other race. So with predominantly black actors, it helps to boost the realism of this film.

Adulthood also features typical narrative themes for a film of this nature. Firstly, the main characters portray an image of a tough looking male whom doesn’t look at all approachable. Secondly, it is common for a male character in a film such as this to have a female companion whom they protect from the dangers of gang life. Lastly, violence is generally motivated by revenge of some kind; Adulthood is no exception to these common narrative themes.

billy elliot
Billy Elliot

Release Date: 29 September 2000

This is a completely different social realism film in comparison to Kidulthood and Adulthood. This film focuses on aspects such as not conforming to stereotypes and aspiring to do something new, as opposed to conforming to teenage stereotypes and simply just ‘following the crowd’.

In this film Billy’s father wants him to train as a boxer at the local gymnasium, but Billy is more interested in joining the ballet class in next room. This is where Billy is not conforming to a stereotype, instead he goes against what is expected of him and joins the ballet class.

Therefore, this film does not follow the typical trait of social realism films in which a person or a group of people conform to a stereotype and remain in this role for the whole film.

A film that is similar to Billy Elliot in the ways of a person not conforming to a stereotype is the film Kes. The boy in this film rejects what is expected of him and finds something he has a personal passion for.

this is england
This Is England

Release Date: 27 April 2007

This film has similarities to both Adulthood and Billy Elliot. It is similar to Adulthood as the focus is on gangs and gang life in general; how gangs fit in to everyday life, how gangs get involved in conflict and so on. Similar to Billy Elliot as the main character in this film is a young boy who doesn’t conform to what his Mother expects of him. This film manages to combine the two themes of gang life and not conforming to stereotypes.

A typical trait of a social realism film displayed by This Is England is the involvement of working class life. It becomes clear during the film that all the characters are from working class backgrounds as the main group in the film give an impression that they are a close-knit gang and they like to represent themselves through various means; such as dressing in similar clothing and having similar hairstyles.

As this film is set in the year 1983, it plays on real life beliefs during that time. Again, this is typical of a social realism film as it really adds to the realism of the film and involves the audience more so.

adulthood clips
Adulthood - Clips

This clip portrays stereotypical elements for a film of this nature. It shows the use of slang language as one of the characters says: “you want me to get my mandem”; a mandem is typically a gang of men looking to cause trouble when they see fit.

The same clip also features the use of swearing and foul language. This type of language is commonplace in gangs and youths. By swearing, seemingly a situation becomes more serious and the swearing adds emphasis to any chosen word.

This clip shows how gender is portrayed in this film. The female is scene is well-spoken compared to the two males, she seldom uses slang language which gives the impression she has received a better education than the males.

However despite this, she still seen to be acting tough as she talks back to one of the males, showing that she is not a stereotypical female who is portrayed as being vulnerable or scared.

billy elliot clips
Billy Elliot - Clips /