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72 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful evocation of a time they'd prefer we forgot
I have just returned from a full cinema on a Sunday afternoon from the first screening of Ken Loach's film 'Spirit of 45'. At the question and answer session with Ken and others, he was at pains to say that 'Spirit of 45' isn't the full story of what happened to the spirit of the first postwar Labour Party and how the postwar consensus led eventually to Margaret Thatcher...
Published 21 months ago by Mr. K. J. Morris

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great Start but downhill all the way.
Some nice footage of immediate post war period. Unfortunately descends into a not very enlightening political rant.from an eighties mindset. Times change and we change with them.
Published 7 months ago by Tuskie


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72 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful evocation of a time they'd prefer we forgot, 17 Mar 2013
By 
Mr. K. J. Morris (West Yorkshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Spirit of '45 [DVD] (DVD)
I have just returned from a full cinema on a Sunday afternoon from the first screening of Ken Loach's film 'Spirit of 45'. At the question and answer session with Ken and others, he was at pains to say that 'Spirit of 45' isn't the full story of what happened to the spirit of the first postwar Labour Party and how the postwar consensus led eventually to Margaret Thatcher and the brutality of the 1980s; that would have taken several episodes, but nevertheless, the film is a wonderful evocation of what was gained in the few short years between 1945 and 1952, and what we have since lost.

What Ken does, in newsreel film and interviews of the era, and recollections of those who lived at the time, is to evoke the spirit of a very important period in British history that followed the Labour landslide of 1945. In order to win a war, Britain became organised by and large on a socialst basis. People who had risked their lives in order to defeat the nazis and the Japanese (many of course lost theirs), knew that things had to change. Britain was broken after the war, but it managed to create a very different world, where health, quality housing and employment were seen as the right of everyone, irrespective of social standing.

Of course, there is much more to the story, and there are other viewpoints as another 'review' suggests, although it is my opinion that the 'reviewer' who gave this film three stars probably hadn't actually seen the film. The problem is that since 1979, the story that has been increasingly told is one that is very much at odds with the view presented here. For that reason alone, Ken Loach's film deserves to be seen widely.

Almost everybody I meet knows that something is very badly wrong with our society. Sadly, few people seem to believe that much can be done to make it better. As one commentator stated at the question and answer session after the film's viewing, the biggest group of people at the moment is those who shout at their TVs, but with fewer and fewer places where people may share their viewpoints most of us fail to discover that we are not alone in our views.

For that reason alone, 'Spirit of 45' is a remarkable film. It demonstrates what can be achieved when people and circumstances become unified in a desire for radical social change. There is much more of course to Loach's vision since he has spent a large part of his life documenting many of the failings of the new world order and how it impacts on the lives of ordinary people. He knows full well how capitalism red in tooth and claw impacts on people here and elsewhere in the world, but he remains a compassionate man. He clearly hopes that his film will enthuse people to seek change for the better once more.

Time will tell if he is successful in his aim, but whatever the result, 'Spirit of 45' is a moving and a remarkable film and deserves to be seen widely for it is an excellent film. Those who wish to know more should visit the film's website.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loach's best, 15 April 2013
This review is from: The Spirit of '45 [DVD] (DVD)
I've always been a fan of Ken Loach and his films for and about the people. The Spirit of '45 is unquestionably his greatest achievement; shining a light on the eponymous spirit of post-war Britain. In looking at the aftermath of WWII you could expect a lot of doom and gloom, however Loach wonderfully twists those tales into poignant and uplifting stories of inspiration.
Haven't had chance to take a look at the extras yet but I'm amazed at the scope of it all - a double-disc set is a rarity with docs, so this is excellent!
Really can't recommend this film enough, it needs to be seen by all.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just slightly disappointed, 7 July 2013
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This review is from: The Spirit of '45 [DVD] (DVD)
I bought this film with very high – maybe too high – expectations and ended up feeling a bit disappointed. Politically, I agree with pretty much everything Loach is trying to say. The Labour reconstruction of post-war Britain with its emphasis on socialism, the common good and policies of nationalisation and public welfare provision – and this in the face of far more difficult economic circumstances than now - is, absolutely, an inspirational model for the present time. But I thought that the connections and lessons between that time and now were too weakly drawn.

For me, the problem was the rushed attempt to explain what Thatcherism had done. It’s not that Loach is wrong about this but it made the film less hard-hitting (and especially, perhaps, for those watching it for whom the Thatcher era is itself an historical memory) than if there had been more direct comparisons with today. It would have been better to go from 45-51 to today. For example, on nationalised electricity, some explicit comparison with the nonsense of ‘customer choice’ now – requiring endless calls to call centres to ‘achieve’ a best rate that promptly becomes anything but. Or, on railways, focussing not just on the accidents that followed privatization but on the massive rises in fares and of public subsidies to the private companies (far greater than BR ever received) that are happening right now. There were occasional moments (e.g. the brief discussion of contracting out of hospital cleaning) where this was achieved, but in general I felt that the ‘now and then’ linkage could have been much sharper. In some ways, I felt the whole thing would have worked better as a Loach drama than as a documentary, for example depicting a family in 1945 and the grandchildren of the same family now.

I also disliked the very traditional and I think sentimental emphasis on the idea that what is needed (and will come) is just for the working class to realise its strength, and the accompanying idea that the problem with Labour is that it has become too middle class. On the one hand, the 1945 administration (Attlee being a good example) were often middle-class. On the other hand, in Britain now, it is the middle class who are being systematically destroyed by ‘austerity’ economics and politics. I don’t think that positioning things in terms of working vs middle class is true either to the ‘spirit of 45’, which was about a sense of a national collective project, or to the current crisis which (as the spirit of 45 suggests) requires a national collective project in opposition to and defiance of a global elite: that is the real division, not that between what are after all just segments of those who have nothing but their labour to sell.

With all those criticisms made, this is a rare and valuable film. Just to see the way that in 1945 socialism was quite openly and unapologetically spoken of, at a time when the present Labour Party is scared to even mention the word, or to articulate any policy that is a cigarette-paper away from the neo-liberal consensus is refreshing.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential viewing for any Briton, 24 Jun 2013
By 
pilgrim (Hampshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Spirit of '45 [DVD] (DVD)
Ok, It's Ken Loach, so you know it's going to be polemical at some point, but the there is so much that is excellent about this, that it is a must see. The vintage footage is incredible. The issues of the 1940s so resonant with that of today.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent part of British Socialist History, I just loved it!, 2 Jun 2013
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This review is from: The Spirit of '45 [DVD] (DVD)
I feel bad that all what was good for the working people, is gradually been dismantled, unfortunately not for the benifit of the working man, but for the rich, it is not a new idea, but it is the greed of a few.
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41 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye opening, 19 Mar 2013
This review is from: The Spirit of '45 [DVD] (DVD)
Saw this film at the weekend and was very moved. Always been a fan of Ken Loach but never seen a documentary by him. It starts as a history lesson and throws you right in there with newsreel footage and people's firsthand accounts. It slowly builds and builds to give a great insight into just why we're in the situation we find ourselves now - it made me nostalgic, angry, sad and ultimately determined to try to do 'something'.

Very affecting piece of cinema and a must see. 5/5.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The film that needed to be made., 13 Aug 2014
By 
William J. Bale "WJB" (South Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Spirit of '45 (DVD)
As I watched this excellent documentary it occurred to me that even though many of the events depicted in it happened a long time ago, in the long run things have actually changed very little in some respects. Today our generation has the same fight that that post and pre-WWII generation had, even if we don't all realize it yet. The same ilk that in those days ran the mining and rail services for private gain and didn't care that in order to profit that less advantaged people had to suffer unacceptable levels of poverty, are still the public enemy #1 in my view.

This film is as much for those who don't understand socialism as it is for those who hold it in the highest regard; some of the critics who are commenting on internet forums such as 'youtube' and have been mislead into believing that it's the same as communism or worse than capitalism in some way. This film will hopefully help to educate and steer those individuals in the right direction. We don't want to return to a pre-WWII capitalist Britain where it's only the lucky few who can enjoy a decent quality of life and the unlucky many who must suffer and slave to keep that unsustainable model of society 'trudging' on to benefit an archaic establishment, who think they're better than or above others because they've been fortunate enough to inherit money and privilege.

The interviews are very moving. It's shocking that people had to endure such levels of hardship and in a sense this is where the Con-Dem Coalition government is gradually trying to take us back to in my opinion. I don't know if that sort of poverty will ever exist in GB again but I'm certain that a great many in society will suffer if the right-wing politicians are allowed to continue down the path they're on. Life is short and people deserve better than what they've had and if they're willing to fight for a better country then they can win.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simple eloquence from those who were there, 28 Jan 2014
By 
Jeremy Bevan (West Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Spirit of '45 [DVD] (DVD)
There’s much to admire in this well-crafted and moving documentary from one of Britain’s foremost directors. Ken Loach has made clever use of a wonderful range of archive footage from the 1930s, ‘40s and onwards as he examines the spirit that enabled Britain to shake off the spectre of the ‘hungry thirties’ and to rise from the ruins of the second world war. But, more than anything, what makes the film work is the simple eloquence of the people he interviews. Whether it’s older people describing the prohibitive cost of medical care (and the avoidable deaths that led to) before the founding of the NHS, or miners recounting the ‘safety last’ culture that made pre-nationalisation pits such dangerous workplaces, their testimony is riveting and compelling.

Loach holds up a mirror to the past to ask whether we can rediscover something of the collective spirit of being ‘our brother’s and our sister’s keeper’ afresh for the future - in an age ravaged anew by corporate greed and a dogmatic insistence on the supremacy of free-market capitalism. I appreciated the sincerity of the attempt, even if, in the final analysis, I think it comes up a bit short. Bringing the ‘welfare state’ up to date meant the film hurried through the Thatcher years in a sometimes superficial way – though, to be sure, there were some great insights, notably from an NHS consultant on the tripling of healthcare administrative costs since the service began to introduce free-market models. Loach could perhaps have better undermined the prevailing ‘market dogma’, and buttressed his case somewhat, by exposing the profiteering and inefficiency of 21st century private industry - in rail travel and the utilities, for example. So, a clarion call that maybe doesn’t ring quite as clear as it might - though an impressive production nonetheless. It’s good value, too, with additional material on the companion DVD that includes Loach’s short film on the 1984 miners’ strike ‘Which side are you on ?’ – still moving and passionate thirty years on.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars essential viewing for all it reminds you of a time when we cared about our own eg national health service ;council houses, 25 Sep 2013
This review is from: The Spirit of '45 [DVD] (DVD)
brilliant film about the best government we ever had watch it and weep this film will make you think and realise what we have lost as a country
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spirit of '45, 11 Aug 2013
By 
A. Holdcroft - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Spirit of '45 [DVD] (DVD)
Absolutely cracking film which serves very well to remind us of a mindset which collectively is being over-written or erased by the Tories & their acolytes. We need to return to this
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The Spirit of '45 [DVD]
The Spirit of '45 [DVD] by Ken Loach (DVD - 2013)
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