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How are representations of class and 'Britishness' explored in Atonement and This is England?

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Introduction

How are representations of class and 'Britishness' explored in Atonement and This is England? In this essay I'm going to compare how the representations of class and 'Britishness' come across to the audience in two award winning British films, Atonement and This is England. Both films are very realistic with what they are portraying and how they portray it. Atonement sticks to the Heritage conventions with big, posh mansions and everyone talking in Received Pronunciation. Although in ways it also subverts from these conventions with the main character coming from a working class background. This is England is more of a social realistic film, the unattractive settings like Shaun's bedroom and the colourful costumes worn by characters like Smell really give an older audience something to relate to. These films being as realistic and believable as they are make the representations of class and 'Britishness' much more clear to the audience. This is England represents the working class and Atonement represents both the working class and upper class. We can tell this from watching the first 5 minutes of each film. ...read more.

Middle

They form very racist beliefs and which is obviously not a good thing to be recognised for. It's very hypocritical of Combo to accuse the Asian population of not bringing anything positive to the community and living off benefits when in fact he's the one without the job, but he's threatening corner shop owners because of where they're from. He represents the skinhead culture in a very negative way. He thinks he's being a good British citizen but it is quite clear to the audience that he is doing the exact opposite by acting the way he is. I think as well as Combo, Robbie and Shaun are also portraying the working class people as vulnerable. Combo and Shaun are because of how easily they side with the National Front and Robbie is because of his status in the family. When he is accused of rape the police are more likely to believe the higher class residents and proof of this is when Robbie is arrested before the police have even heard his side of the story. When this happens Robbie and the family bring a strong sense of 'Britishness' to the film. ...read more.

Conclusion

Patriotism isn't as strong a theme in Atonement as it is in This is England. It's a much more focused theme in the latter. This could be because Atonement is more of a Heritage film and this theme isn't really a convention of this genre. During the Dunkirk scene we see hundreds of thousands of soldiers who have been fighting for their country. I think it's quite clear that they do not want to be there and that they'd rather be at home. Whilst in This is England Combo and co are ready to go to war, 'Are you ready to shed blood'. This quote portrays the seriousness and somewhat stupidity of the National Front. They think they are going to war with the people who they blame for massive unemployment in England. They take themselves too seriously and are patriotic to the extreme. Overall I think that This is England has deeper and more meaningful representations of class and 'Britishness' than Atonement does. Although both portray their characters in a way that draws the audience in, gives them something to think about and also something to relate to. ...read more.

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