Deputy Editor on Period Drama

Why do we British love period dramas? Do we love to indulge in the nostalgia of a different time period? Do we like the unresolved issues of class in society? Or is this medium of film and television just so brilliant to watch because we love history?

I can safely (and proudly) admit that I am a Downton Abbey Fan, I think that Sir Julian Fellowes is brilliant at his ability to capture a time period yet make the stories exciting and new. The writing is just brilliant, the audience follows sixteen main characters, so everyone has someone to relate to and understand. Whether your a fan of the downstairs happenings or the upstairs madness. Everyone has someone to relate to.

The British public has always loved a period drama, in Andrew Davies’ adaptation of Pride and Prejudice in 1995 audiences were captivated by the growing relationship between the strong Mr Darcy and the proud Miss Elizabeth Bennett. This TV series gained a huge following and is one of the reasons why Colin Firth is still irresistible.

Perhaps we as a society need to escape the present, the bills, the responsibilities, and the general stresses of everyday life. That’s what the film and television media is best at, at re-creating a world in which the viewer can escape, if only for a few hours.

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Classic review: ‘A Clockwork Orange’

Stanley Kubrick’s 1972 adaptation of Anthony Burgess’ novel from 1962 is a cult classic that has influenced British society more than most other films have ever achieved. AFI named ‘A Clockwork Orange’ 4th best science fiction film of all time. The film was withdrawn from the public by Kubrick himself after the film inspired many copycat ultra-violent beatings as displayed in the film, including a rape where the protagonists sang ‘Singin’ in the rain’, an exact replication of the scene in the film. This is a perfect example of the ‘hypodermic syringe theory’, where the media injects society with ideas, not always positive. The film was withdrawn from the UK for 27 years. Maybe Kubrick and Burgess were trying to create an updated Orwell style of the potential failings of the advancement of science. Director Stanley Kubrick describes the film as, ’a social satire dealing with the question of whether behavioural psychology and psychological conditioning are dangerous new weapons for a totalitarian government to use to impose vast controls on its citizens and turn them into little more than robots’.

Malcolm McDowell plays Alex, leader of a gang of ‘Droogs’, a young charismatic psychopath who becomes brainwashed by an authoritarian and totalitarian British government through aversion therapy. This occurs after finding himself in prison after beating and murdering an older woman. McDowell was nominated for Best Actor Golden Globe and won a New York film critics Award. McDowell plays a character that happily ‘robs, tortures, and rapes without conscience or remorse’.

Post aversion therapy, Alex simply becomes a decent citizen. However, this is not natural, his goodness is involuntary. Kubrick uses the role of a chaplain to emphasise that Alex’s goodness is faith and that it should come naturally. Alex has become the ‘Clockwork Orange’, organic and healthy on the outside whilst maintaining simple false mechanisms on the inside. Not pure may be a better term. The moral of this film is that society and people should not be controlled. Maybe it would be better to have a society controlled by the government; however this creates an oppressed and insincere society.

The sheer brutality is simply incomprehensible, whilst at the same time it is hideous to watch victims of crime being so dehumanised. Regardless, morbid curiosity is what makes this film so controversial and different. Kubrick’s adaptation of the novel displays a devious and shocking examination of violence in human society. It has been so popular as its controversy attracted rumours and the main stream ‘rebels’ who watched it despite its 27 year ban from the early 70s. Like many things censored, the desire to know more led to a desire to watch this film. Also, it was the first film to use a Dolby surround sound! A truly unique and disgusting film that oozes brilliance. A warning to future generations.

Review: Johnny English Reborn

Words by Edward Keeling


Rowan Atkinson stars once more as the inept MI7 agent Johnny English in this 2011 sequel in which he is handed the responsibility of stopping a group of international assassins before they kill the Chinese Premier. However it could have been better than it was. I am a huge fan of Rowan Atkinson in general, his comedic talent is undisputed from his days as Blackadder and his work as Mr Bean, but this lacked the essence of a really great film. Johnny English Reborn dealt with many cheap gags and slapstick comedy from repeated crotch kicks, many misinterpreted identities, to a ‘pimp my ride’ style wheelchair.

These parts of the film can be enjoyable in themselves if taken with a pinch of salt but it is all too predictable and similar as you may suspect to its 2003 predecessor. Furthermore as a James Bond spoof the gadgets were not developed to their full capacity, a Bond and Q style scene unfolded near the beginning but the gadgets were from then on used sparingly such as a voice activated Rolls-Royce. Nevertheless it does have its funny moments namely due to the comic genius of Rowan Atkinson who can make simplistic ideas such as a malfunctioning chair incredibly funny. Undeniably this is thus not a classic film but Johnny English Reborn is still watch able for an easy laugh.