|Table of contents|
“Most of my generation of British film makers have been influenced by him without doubt; Loach always reminds you that you shouldn’t become a film director unless you have something to say.”
I think that Alan Parker’s statement about Ken
Loach is very accurate. We have seen that indeed, Loach has influenced many
directors over his career, and not only British ones. It is true that his films
always generate debates, even if not as much as Loach himself would like. He
has remained thoroughly consistent in his approach of human beings: there is
no doubt that he is much influenced by existentialism, which enables him to
settle his films in a humanist perspective; it even justifies some of Loach’s
most activist films, like Land and Freedom, because of the importance
given to the theme of responsibility. Because of this responsibility, citizenship
is a fundamental concept if one wants to understand the spirit in which all
his films are rooted.
The link with Aristotle’s Politics has enabled to make the distinction between a community whose institutions and governors are dedicated to the general good of citizens, and a community in which powers are given to the strongest (or richest), which resembles very much Hobbes’ state of nature, or Darwin’s survival of the fittest. This is how Loach sees Thatcherite and post-Thatcherite Britain. This is why he tells stories about working-class people, because they were the ones who mostly suffered from what Loach denounces as “the Thatcherite onslaught”. Nevertheless, his films are full of hope, because they feature people who try hard to fight back and evolve, whatever social or economic pressures they have to bear.
T he evolution Loach has depicted over his career also concerns men and women’s position and roles in the society. They are both equal citizens, this is why no particular distinction should be made on behalf of a feminist discourse (unlike neo-realist Michelangelo Antonioni did in Blow-up, in 1966). Loach only films the evolution of both sexes. Yet, it is obvious that the traditional concept of working-class masculinity is challenged, partly because of economic and social changes: it clearly determines the relationships between men and women, because their expectations are not the same. To me, this particular focus adds something else to the narration: Loach’s films are not all politics. If they are not all politics, it is also because they mingle individual and collective memories. Thanks to this, Loach reaches a level of authenticity that really moves viewers; thus, the reality he describes is not ex nihilo: it is a melting of individual perceptions and historical, social realities. Anyway, what is always at stakes is the ability to distinguish past and present, as well as to draw the lessons of the past to be in control of the present.
I had to choose a particular subject, but I know there are many other themes and perspectives that would be worth investigating. For instance, it would be interesting to explore the somewhat anarchist side of Loach’s fictions, or the specific cinematic techniques that are used to convey Loach’s perception of contemporary societies.
 Alan Parker, in The South Bank Show, Meridian TV, 1993.
 In The South Bank Show, Meridian TV, 1993.
|Table of contents|