When I first started researching for this article a few weeks ago, I thought I’d ask my fellow Brits for their opinions on what films deserved to be in my Top 10. I was given lots of suggestions, some which amused me greatly (particularly one friend’s enthusiastic “Titanic?!?!?!?!”); however, it was the argument that a Facebook post started that caught my attention the most. Everybody starting asking, well what exactly is a British film?
This may sound like a silly question, but it is a very relevant one. One of my colleagues argued that many films made in Britain today require funding from across the pond and therefore it is hard to say what a “British film” is. American studios, directors, actors etc. get attached to these films in order to increase their chances of success, or even of getting made. Without the help of Hollywood, it would be difficult for the UK to be as successful. Particularly, if we want to stand a chance of competing with summer blockbusters and…*heavy sigh*…3D. My friend was not entirely wrong when she suggested “Titanic.” After all, it is a film about a famous event that happened in Britain and stars Kate Winslet. However, there is absolutely no way that the UK film industry alone would have been able to pull off such a blockbuster. Think what you will about the film, it was a hell of a lot better than what we would have achieved on our own.
So, how was I to judge which films even qualified for my Top 10? I wanted to write about films that felt truly and authentically British. So I researched and researched and came up with interesting results. The films in my list have one or more of the following elements: they are produced by well-known British film companies such as Film4, Granada, and the British Film Council; their budgets are substantially smaller than those of Hollywood films (indicating the spending of only British pounds); the cast, writer, and director are all British. There were no big Hollywood names backing the films or American stars leading the way; it just so happened that the films I chose possessed these qualities. Perhaps this suggests a certain aesthetic that British films have that differs from Hollywood cinema so dramatically? But anyway, that’s not for here.
When I finished my research, I read my Top 10 choices to my fellow students. Most of them agreed wholeheartedly; a few were horrified. “How can you not include x or y or z?!” Well, I said to them, there’s a simple reason for this. If I didn’t include a film that you feel should be on the list, it’s because I preferred my 10. As a famous meerkat once said, “simples!” To write about a film that I didn’t feel should be on the list, but I knew other people would want me to include, would make my writing somewhat disingenuous. It’s not a question of better or worse films, but films that I personally feel are both brilliant and represent the British cinema of today. Enjoy!