I'm writing my MA dissertation on This Is England and Shakespeare's second tetralogy of history plays, Richard II, Henry IV parts 1 and 2, and Henry V I was just wondering if anyone knows or has heard of Meadows ever mentioning these plays as any kind of source or influence on This Is England?
I'm sort of arguing that This is England could be viewed as a revisioning of the Henriad. I'm not saying that Shane actually intended to do this, just that it could be interpreted that way and would be interesting to know his views on Shakespeare. It's actually uncanny the amount of comparisons that can be made between the film and the plays as a set in terms of their themes and concerns. I can't find anything substantial either that Shane or anyone else has said on the subject so..... Mr Meadows, if you happen to see this I'd love to know what you think?
What you're doing sounds really interesting. Unfortunately, of the ones's you mention, I've only seen Henry V (Laurence Olivier on DVD). I do think there's something of the Shakespearean tragic hero in many of Shane's heroes though (Darcy-24:7-and Combo). Pretty ignorant about the England identity themes, would be interested to hear more, if you have time to post. Hope Shane replies to you.
Hi again, sorry I have been so long in replying, been busy doing research and the like. Yeah I definitely agree with you about the notions of English identity put across by Combo! Reading the plays and researching the contemporary National Front party it seems that for some people, sadly not much has changed in 400 years since Shakespeare was writing. It is unbelievable some of the views the National Front espouse on their website!!! Do you think it would be ok for me to post some questions to fans on here regarding This Is England and the idea of 'Englishness'. For me Meadows portarys a very realistic picture of England not just in the 80s but also now, hence This 'is' England. However, I'm English, I'm working class, grew up and still live on a council estate and for me the film portrays very earnestly a reality that I know. Really I would just like to know how other fans realte to the depiction of England and what it is that they think of when they personally imagine England as a nation and whether watching the film changed/reinforced or challenged that opinion. Also would it be ok to use any responses to my questions in my thesis with the permission of whoever responds? Thanks and best wishes Candis
This might be going way off at a tangent from your interest in Shakespeare specifically, but I do think the film interrogates the ambivalence in constructions of ‘Englishness’ and the tension between social class and constructions of Englishness. Constructions of ‘Englishness’ typically evoke an imaginary of a pre-industrial, rural idyll, an arcadia blighted by the brute forces of industrialisation (E.g. Larkin’s lament for the England of shadows, meadows, lanes, guildhalls and carved choirs, disfigured by the ugly scars of concrete and tyres). It's a province and privilege of the rich, translated by way of a classical education. The working class as the progeny of industrialisation, just have no place in this imaginary. I like to think that this is why Shane Meadows scarcely ever shoot his working class subjects in rural settings without including some industrial vestige in the frame (probably just my interpretation though). Lenny delivers the St. Crispin’s Day speech in a rundown pub, adorned with ragged flags, skirted by a car-park cum garden, with tatty corrugated-iron static caravans that make this ‘rural idyll’ look a bit like the office hub of a building site. I think the incongruity between nationalist rhetoric of Englishness delivered in the language of Shakespeare and the reality of the lives of those who listened is nicely summed up in Pukey’s, ‘do you really believe in all that shit?’
Anyway long reply. Posting your questions is fine. I hope you get some responses-sounds like an interesting thesis.