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Running off the Anger: British New Wave


Anna Śliwińska

Running off the Anger. British New Wave includes several areas of research that suggest interpreting the cinema of the British New Wave in relation to social realism, the construction of the main characters, popular culture and the way New Wave played with film-making. Thanks to an in-depth analysis of key films of this trend, it is possible not only to understand the workings of social realism and examine character creation and their rebellion, but also to explore the intentionality of the utilising New Wave techniques that were known from nouvelle vague. The last chapter of this book is devoted to the most recent references to British New Wave Cinema.

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Chapter 3 Pop Culture


I must say, it’s pretty dreary

living in the American age…

Jimmy Porter in Look Back in Anger

The previous chapter was devoted to the category of social realism which, as I had established earlier, was treated by the British artists in a rather original way. However, the main principle of social realism, i.e. providing the audience with an insight into the everyday life of post-war Britain, will be reflected in this chapter. The realism here is definitely reflected in the images of a society being lured more and more towards consumerism and, at the same time, losing its clear-cut class divisions. This chapter will shed light on another aspect of pop culture related to the characters’ drive towards liberty. It transpires that apart from the threat of unification and mindless consumption, pop culture can also serve as a way out (even if momentary or superficial) of the mundane and into the world of colourful fashion, pop-art projects or the liberating spirit of jazz music.

1. Towards Classless Society

Following the war, popular culture became generally accessible as a result of factors such as the mass media. The working classes were tempted by material goods, a mere arm’s length away. John Hill notes that culture begins as a classless phenomenon, through which society becomes homogenised1, and it offers the working classes the illusion of prosperity that had previously been the preserve of the rich. For young people the...

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