Prof. David Campion

Linnea Pergola, Piccadilly Circus, 1995



SOME of the most enduring images of Modern Britain in the popular imagination of Americans have come from films. Some of these films are of average quality and imperfect in their historical accuracy, but many are excellent and effectively recreate the environment and compelling issues that people living in Britain, Ireland, and the British Empire faced at different moments in their history. And since films are the media through which much of the general public gain their impressions of British culture and history, they are worthy of consideration by historians for that reason alone.

In Britain, the growth of the nation's film industry played an important role in the development of postwar society and culture. In recent years Britain has been at the leading edge of movie making and distribution worldwide. Many British and Irish films have received international recognition for their quality and innovation while Hollywood increasingly relies on British expertise in its own film production. The Government of Britain has even awarded substantial tax rebates to production companies that are able to make the case that their films are "culturally British." These rebates allow filmmakers to claim up to 16% of the cost of big-budget films and 20% of smaller ones. This government effort to advance British culture and national identity has encouraged American studios to take advantage of the discount by filming in Britain. Nowadays, many American movies are actually filmed at Pinewood Shepperton Studios outside of London. The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) supports and awards superior achievement in the industry. See also 100 Years of British Film and the British Film Institute (BFI).

Below is a selection of films useful for complementing our study of Modern British history and culture. Most of them can be obtained at Watzek Library. You can also find many of them on Netflix.

Some information courtesy of Internet Movie Database. Used with permission

Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)
Zulu (1964)
Khartoum (1966)
The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968)
Conduct Unbecoming (1975)
The Chess Players (1977)
Zulu Dawn (1979)
Breaker Morant (1980)
The Elephant Man (1980)
Yapian Zhanzheng (1997)
Mountains of the Moon (1990)
Wilde (1997)
Topsy-Turvy (2000)
From Hell (2001)
Creation (2009)

The Good Soldier (1981)
The Last Place on Earth (1985)
The Shooting Party (1985)
Carrington (1995)
The Winslow Boy (1999)
Shackleton (2002)
Downton Abbey (2010)
Titanic: Blood and Steel (2012)
Suffragette (2015)

The Battle of the Somme (1916)
King and Country (1964)
Oh! What a Lovely War (1969)
Aces High (1976)
Black Adder Goes Forth (1989)
The Englishman who went up a Hill (1994)
Regeneration (1998)
All the King's Men (1999)
My Boy Jack (2007)
Beneath Hill 60 (2010)
Birdsong (2012)
Coward (2012)
Parade's End (2012)
The Wipers Times (2013)
Testament of Youth (2014)

The Edge of the World (1937)
The Stars Look Down (1939)
Love on the Dole (1941)
Brideshead Revisited (1981)
Chariots of Fire (1981)
Reilly, Ace of Spies (1983)
A Passage to India (1984)
A Handful of Dust (1988)
The Remains of the Day (1993)
Land and Freedom (1995)
Tom & Viv (1994)
Liam (2000)
Love in a Cold Climate (2001)

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)
The Cruel Sea (1953)
Malta Story (1953)
The Dam Busters (1954)
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
King Rat (1965)
Battle of Britain (1969)
Overlord (1975)
Empire of the Sun (1987)
Piece of Cake (1988)
Dark Blue World (2001)
First Light (2010)
The Railway Man (2013)
Dunkirk (2017)

In Which We Serve (1942)
Mrs. Miniver (1942)
A Canterbury Tale (1944)
Brief Encounter (1945)
I Know Where I'm Going! (1945)
Danger UXB (1979)
Hope and Glory (1987)
A Perfect Hero (1991)
The Cazalets (2001)
Borstal Boy (2000)
Foyle's War (2002)
Island at War (2004)
Housewife, 49 (2006)
Atonement (2007)
The Imitation Game (2014)
Their Finest (2017)

Guns at Batasi (1964)
The Jewel in the Crown (1984)
Mountbatten, The Last Viceroy (1986)
A United Kingdom (2016)

The Spy who came in from the Cold (1965)
The War Game (1965)
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1979)
Cambridge Spies (2003)

The Wilderness Years (1981)
The Gathering Storm (2002)
Into the Storm (2009)
Churchill's Secret (2016)
Churchill (2017)
Darkest Hour (2017)

Room at the Top (1959)
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1961)
Billy Liar (1963)
This Sporting Life (1963)
A Hard Day's Night (1964)
If... (1968)
Kes (1970)
The Ruling Class (1972)
Quadrophenia (1979)
84 Charing Cross Road (1987)
Scandal (1989)
The Krays (1990)
Shadowlands (1993)
Ratcatcher (1998)
Vera Drake (2004)
Longford (2006)
The Bank Job (2008)
An Education (2009)
Pirate Radio (2009)
Made in Dagenham (2010)
The Hour (2011)

Mein Leben für Irland (1941)
A Quiet Day in Belfast (1974)
Four Days in July (1985)
Troubles (1988)
The Treaty (1992)
In the Name of the Father (1993)
Hidden Agenda (1996)
Michael Collins (1996)
Some Mother's Son (1996)
The Boxer (1998)
The Last September (1999)
Bloody Sunday (2003)
Omagh (2004)
The Wind that Shakes the Barley (2006)
Hunger (2008)
Fifty Dead Men Walking (2008)
Five Minutes of Heaven (2009)
Philomena (2013)
'71 (2014)

My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
My Son the Fanatic (1997)
East is East (1999)
Bend it Like Beckham (2002)
Dirty Pretty Things (2002)
Ae Fond Kiss (2004)
Brick Lane (2007)
Small Island (2009)

Made in Britain (1982)
Sid and Nancy (1986)
For Queen and Country (1988)
House of Cards (1990)
Riff Raff (1990)
An Ungentlemanly Act (1992)
Billy Elliot (2000)
Blessed by Fire (2005)
The History Boys (2006)
This is England (2006)
The Iron Lady (2011)
Pride (2014)

Raining Stones (1993)
Trainspotting (1996)
Wonderland (1999)
The Deal (2003)
The Jury (2003)
The Football Factory (2004)
The Damned United (2009)
Four Lions (2010)
The Special Relationship (2010)
I, Daniel Blake (2016)

Edward & Mrs. Simpson (1981)
To Play the King (1993)
Mrs. Brown (1997)
The Lost Prince (2003)
The Queen (2006)
The Young Victoria (2009)
The King's Speech (2010)
The Crown (2016)
Victoria & Abdul (2017)

A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)
Children of Men (2006)


Director: Jean-Marc Vallée, 2009

This lavish costume drama focuses on the turbulent and lonely years of Queen Victoria's childhood, her accession to the throne when she was eighteen years old, and the uncertain beginning of her long reign. Her eventual success as a monarch was nurtured through two crucial relationships: her engagement and marriage to her German cousin Albert, the prince-consort, and the political mentoring provided by her first prime minister, Lord Melbourne.

© Sony Pictures


Director: Tony Richardson, 1968

This film chronicles the events that led to British involvement in the Crimean War against Russia culminating in the siege of Sevastopol and the fierce Battle of Balaclava in October 1854. The climax is the heroic but doomed charge of British cavalrymen ordered to advance against well-defended Russian artillery. Immortalized in the epic poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, the Light Brigade's destruction owed primarily to the jealousy, infighting, and gross incompetence of its aristocratic commanders.



Director: Xie Jin, 1997

This Chinese epic tells the story of the 1840-41 war between Britain and the declining Qing dynasty that resulted in the forced opening of Chinese markets to the opium trade and the establishment of the British colony of Hong Kong. Yapian Zhanzheng received enthusiastic support from the Beijing authorities and was the most expensive Chinese film ever made at the time of production. It was released in 1997 to coincide with the handover of Hong Kong.

© Araba Films


Director: Satyajit Ray, 1977

In 1856, officials of the East India Company move to consolidate their hold over North India by annexing the wealthy kingdom of Awadh. The chief minister to the Nawab attempts to warn his ruler and local landlords of the impending danger but they ignore him and instead indulge their obsession with playing chess. The game becomes a metaphor for the larger game of politics played by the British as they maneuver to capture Awadh's king. Based on the 1924 short story by Premchand.

© Shemaroo


Director: John Madden, 1997

This film examines at the relationship between Queen Victoria and John Brown, a Scottish commoner who, though a servant, became her closest friend and confidant. As such, he proved the catalyst to bring her back into public life and out of her private mourning for the late Prince Albert, who had died in 1861.

© Miramax


Director: Bob Rafelson, 1990

This film traces the friendship between Victorian explorers Richard Burton and John Hanning Speke that broke down during their 1856 expedition to find the source of the Nile, a route that took them through East Africa from Zanzibar to the shores of Lake Victoria. Based on the 1982 biographical novel by William Harrison and the travel diaries of Burton and Speke.

© Artisan Entertainment


Director: Jon Amiel, 2009

Charles Darwin, a brilliant scientist and devoted family man, struggles to come to terms with the devastating loss of his eldest daughter, Annie. Worried that his path-breaking theory of evolution might alienate his deeply religious wife and endanger their marriage, Darwin had procrastinated completing his manuscript. Yet the memory of his inquisitive, intelligent and highly logical daughter spurs him to complete Origin of Species and send it off for publication.

© BBC Films


Director: David Lynch, 1980

This gothic drama gives a moving portrayal of John Merrick, the grotesquely deformed Victorian-era man better known as "The Elephant Man". Inarticulate and abused, Merrick ekes out a miserable living as a sideshow freak until a dedicated London doctor, Frederick Treves, rescues him from his former life and offers him an existence with dignity and acknowlegement of his humanity. A well-rendered view of the Victorian medical community.

© Paramount


Director: Douglas Hickox, 1979

This epic recounts the Battle of Isandhlwana fought on 22 January 1879 in Natal, South Africa. In the course of the fighting about 1,200 British soldiers were massacred by a force of over 20,000 Zulu warriors and the regimental colors were lost. Isandhlwana was the first engagement of the Anglo-Zulu War and stands as one of the most shocking defeats in British military history. Zulu Dawn was written by Cy Enfield as a prequel to his more successful film Zulu released fifteen years earlier.

© Tango Entertainment


Director: Cy Endfield, 1964

In 1879 the British Army suffered one of its worst defeats when Zulu forces massacred 1,200 of its troops at Isandhlwana in South Africa. A short time after the main battle a Zulu force numbering in excess of 4000 warriors advanced on a British supply post at "Rorke's Drift" guarded by 139 Welsh infantrymen. This film was made in the 1960s at a time when Britain's colonial control over Africa was rapidly disintegrating.



Director: Basil Deardon, 1966

This Hollywood epic recounts the ill-fated struggle in 1885 of General Charles Gordon and his British-Egyptian regiment to hold the Sudanese city of Khartoum in the face of an attack by the forces of the Mahdi, a charismatic religious leader bent on the expulsion of the British. A stylized portrayal of Gordon's Christian zeal and stubbornness set against the messianic goal of the Mahdi to wage a holy war against the foreign infidels.



Director: Robert Hamer, 1949

Set in Victorian England, this film remains the most popular of the postwar comedies produced at Ealing Green Studios. Louis D'Ascoyne is the would-be Duke of Chalfont whose mother was spurned by her noble family for marrying an Italian singer for love. Louis resolves to avenge his mother by murdering the relatives ahead of him in line for the dukedom, all of whom are played by Alec Guinness. Other Ealing comedies include The Lavender Hill Mob (1951), The Man in the White Suit (1951), and The Ladykillers (1955).

© Anchor Bay Entertainment


Director: Michael Anderson, 1975

The plot revolves arounds a scandal in a British regiment stationed in India in the 1870s. Lt. Drake is from a middle-class background and is eager to advance himself by making the right impression. Lt. Millington, the son of a general, is not keen on army life and desires to get out as soon as he possibly can. When the widow of the regiment's most honored hero is assaulted, Drake must defend Millington from the charges in an unusual court-martial. Based on the 1969 play by Barry England.

© Crown Films


Director: Stephen Frears, 2017

In 1887, Abdul Karim, a young police clerk from Agra, is selected by the British colonial goverment to travel to London to present a gift to Queen Victoria on the occasion of her Golden Jubilee. Abdul strikes up an unlikely friendship with the "Empress of India" and stays on in Britain to become her servant and, at her request, her munshi (teacher) of Urdu and the Qur'an. When Victoria dies in 1901, Abdul returns to India. Based on the book by Shrabani Basu and Abdul's diary discovered in 2010.

© BBC Films


Directors: Albert and Allen Hughes, 2001

A stylish and dark thriller based on the infamous Whitechapel murders of 1888 that terrorized the residents of East London and baffled police. This is the most recent among many popular films about "Jack the Ripper" and provides an artful recreation of crime, poverty, and survival in the slums of Victorian Britain. The film's title "From Hell" refers to the return address on one of the notes left by the Ripper. Based on the 1999 graphic novel by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell

© Fox Searchlight


Director: Mike Leigh, 2000

The legendary musical duo Gilbert and Sullivan are at a crossroads in their careers. Having scored numerous hits like The Pirates of Penzance and HMS Pinafore, they are mired in a creative dry spell. The plot revolves around the inspiration for their comic opera The Mikado. Gilbert & Sullivan operettas were extraordinarily popular among the very same Victorian society that they satirized. Considered by many to be quinessentially English, they remain beloved by audiences worldwide.

© USA Films


Director: Bruce Beresford, 1980

The true story of three Australian army officers serving in the Bushveldt Carbiniers, a unit of the British forces fighting in the Boer War, who were court-martialed by the British South African High Command for alleged atrocities. To this day many Australians claim the men were scapegoats in an unpopular war. This courtroom drama reveals well the growing tensions between Britain and her imperial dominions. Based on the 1979 play by Australian Kenneth Ross.

© Fox Lorber


Director: Brian Gilbert, 1997

An intimate portrayal of the life of poet, playwright, and novelist Oscar Wilde. The self-realization of his homosexuality caused Wilde enormous torment as he juggled marriage and fatherhood with his obsessive love for Lord Alfred Douglas. Wilde refused to flee the country when charged with "gross indecency" and was sentenced to two years hard labor. This film juxtaposes the genius of Wilde against the intolerance and hypocrisy of late Victorian Britain.

© Columbia/TriStar


Director: David Mamet, 1999

In 1911, London banker Arthur Winslow learns that his 14-year-old son, a naval cadet, has been expelled from college after being accused of petty theft. The boy denies the offense and Winslow then risks his fortune, health, and daughter's marriage prospects to pursue justice and restore his family's honor. After a guilty verdict by a naval board of inquiry, Winslow takes the matter all the way to Parliament. Based on the 1946 play by Terence Rattigan and a real incident that took place at the Royal Naval College, Osborne, in 1908.

© Sony Pictures Classics


Director: Ciaran Donnelly, 2012

In 1909 the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast embarked on the most ambitious project in its history: to build the largest ship in the world. This television miniseries recreates the events of the three-year construction of the unsinkable liner Titanic from the perspective of the wealthy investors, middle-class engineers, and working-class shipyard crews. The plot alternates between the technical details of the fated liner and the rising political consciousness of Belfast's Protestants and Catholics.

© Lions Gate


Director: Stephen Poliakoff, 2003

The heartbreaking true story of Prince John, youngest child of King George V and Queen Mary. His short and sad life spanned from the pomp of the Edwardian court through the turmoil of the First World War. A loving, insightful, and humorous child, John suffered from epilepsy and autistic-like learning difficulties and was diagnosed as an "imbecile". An embarrassment to his image-conscious family, he was isolated from public view in one of the royal estates until his premature death.

© BBC Films


Director: Ferdinand Fairfax, 1985

This miniseries recounts the tragic story of the Scott expedition's failed attempt in 1911 to be the first to reach the South Pole. Their arrival at the pole five weeks after Roald Amundsen's Norwegian team was demoralizing enough, but the return journey proved even worse. After his death, Capt. Robert Scott was lionized as an Edwardian hero but in recent years his leadership and personality have been questioned. This series, beautifully filmed in Greenland, offers a much less flattering portrayal of Scott than the glorified image in the 1948 film Scott of the Antarctic.

© Renegade Productions


Director: Sarah Gavron, 2015

Maud Watts, a young laundress from London, becomes involved with the Suffragettes, also called the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), a movement around the turn of the twentieth century that fought to achieve votes for women. Excluded from the established political system, the Suffragettes turned to dramatic and, at times, violent tactics to make their voices heard.

© Pathé


Director: Alan Bridges, 1985

In the summer of 1913 a small group of lords and ladies gathers at the country estate of Sir Randolph Nettleby for a shooting party. A code of aristocratic propriety governs every aspect of the event—including speech, dress, dining, interaction with the estate's tenants, courtship, shooting, and even adultery. An accurate and nuanced portrayal of a way of life that on the eve of the First World War was already in the midst of an irreversible decline.

© Jef Films


Creator: Julian Fellowes, 2010

This acclaimed series is set in a fictional Yorkshire estate and revolves around the lives of the Crawleys, an aristocratic family living through the great events of the early twentieth century. The plot portrays changes in British society and class sensibilities beginning in the post-Edwardian years and lasting into the chaos and uncertainty of the Interwar period. Some critics have noted that popularity with American viewers has affected the depiction of class attitudes and other social behavior in later episodes.

© Carnival Films


Director: Kevin Billington, 1981

In the decade before the First World War, two wealthy and attractive upper class couples—one English, one American—meet at a German spa and forge an immediate bond. Through nine seasons at the spa, the four come to share with each other their same tastes, desires, and elegantly perfect Edwardian lives. Over time, however, it becomes clear just how far short of perfection their lives really are. Based on the 1915 semi-autobiographical novel by Ford Madox Ford.

© Acorn Media


Director: Charles Sturridge, 2002

This miniseries tells the story of Britain's great "Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition" of 1914 led by Sir Ernest Shackleton. The plot focuses primarily on Shackleton's epic struggle to lead his 28-man crew to safety after their expedition ship Endurance was crushed in pack ice. By the beginning of the twentieth century, polar exploration represented for Britain the last great frontier of imperial discovery. Filmed in Iceland and Greenland.

© A&E Home Entertainment


Director: Christopher Hampton, 1995

This film recreates the lives of the Bloomsbury group of intellectuals and artists in Edwardian England, as seen through the relationship between the painter Dora Carrington and writer Lytton Strachey. Carrington will not give herself to any of the men in her life (including her husband)—at least not emotionally. Instead, she has found her soulmate in Strachey, a homosexual who, in fact, is infatuated with Carrington's husband.



Director: Christopher Monger, 1995

Two English surveyors visit the small South Wales village of Ffynnon Garw in 1917 to measure what is claimed to be the "first mountain inside of Wales". The villagers are proud of their "mountain" and are disappointed to learn that it is in fact a "hill". Not to be outdone by a mere rule (and the English who enforce it), the villagers set out to make their hill into a mountain. A comic look at Welsh pride and the attitudes of the "Celtic periphery" towards English predominance.

© Miramax


Director: Richard Attenborough, 1969

An unlikely musical satire about the First World War as portrayed by the leaders of the great powers and the members of an average British family, the Smiths, who go off to fight. Much of the plot is conveyed in the lyrics of actual songs from the period and many scenes recreate some of the more famous (and infamous) incidents of the war. A mocking comedy about the jingoism, cynical politicking, and wartime enthusiasm that sent so many to die. Based on the 1963 stage musical of the same name.

© Paramount


Directors: Martin Campbell and Jim Goddard, 1983

This television series dramatizes the extraordinary life and exploits of Sigmund Rosenblum (a.k.a. Sidney Reilly), a Polish Jew who immigrated to Britain and became the world's first modern super-spy. With his remarkable gift for self-invention and reinvention, Reilly engaged in freelance espionage against the Germans and Russians in the early twentieth century. His resourcefulness, self-confidence, and incorrigible womanizing were later the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s master spy, James Bond.

© A&E Home Entertainment


Director: Julian Jarrold, 1999

At the outbreak of war in 1914 a company of the Norfolk Regiment was formed from staff members at the royal estate in Sandringham. A year later the regiment suffered heavy losses at Gallipoli and, during confusion of battle, the Sandringham Company advanced behind Turkish lines and disappeared in the smoke and mist. This film recreates the efforts by the Queen Mother, Alexandra, after the war to learn the fate of her soldier servants.

© BBC Films


Director: Neil Jordan, 1996

A biographical account of the IRA fighter and Irish statesman from the 1916 Easter Rising to his assassination in 1922. A vivid recreation of the Irish republican movement, the guerrilla campaign against British forces, and the Irish Civil War. The film is historically accurate, but the characterization of Collins, Harry Boland, and Eamon De Valera remains controversial.

© Warner Home Video


Cinematographers: John McDowell and Geoffrey Malins, 1916

When this silent battlefield documentary was released in 1916 it is estimated that more than 20 million tickets were sold in the first two months alone. The film was then distributed internationally to demonstrate Britain's commitment to victory in the Great War. It has become one of the most successful British films ever made and the source of many of the war's most iconic images (though a few scenes were staged). In 2005 it became the only British document ever inscribed in UNESCO's "Memory of the World" register.

© Trustees of the Imperial War Museums


Director: Brian Kirk, 2007

At the start of the First World War, famed author Rudyard Kipling uses his influence to get his physically unqualified son, Jack, a commission in the Irish Guards. Jack's deployment to France may be the fulfillment of the elder Kipling's patriotic dream but it is a nightmare for Jack's mother and sister. When Jack is reported missing after the Guards suffer terrible losses, Mrs. Kipling forces her husband to use his influence once again, to discover the fate of their son. Based on the 1997 play by David Haig.

© Ecosse Films


Director: Jack Gold, 1976

This film depicts one week at a squadron of the Royal Flying Corps stationed along the Western Front. The squadron commander, Major John Gresham, leads his inexperienced pilots in combat and struggles to maintain unit morale amid an appalling casualty rate and high turnover. The casualty rate among rookie pilots of the RFC, from accidents and enemy action, was among the highest of any branch of the service in the First World War. Based on the 1928 play Journey’s End by combat veteran R.C. Sheriff.

© Cine Artists Pictures


Director: David Roddham, 2012

This moving short film follows two cousins from Northern Ireland who in 1917 volunteer for service in the army and are plunged into the hellish fighting along the Western Front. The brutality of combat and life in the trenches is matched by the callous indifference of the military leadership toward their soldiers suffering from shell shock and the manner in which punishment is dealt out. Twenty-six Irish-born soldiers in the British Army were executed for cowardice in the First World War. They were not officially pardoned until 2006.

© Different Productions


Director: Susanna White, 2012

This lavish television series of the First World War focuses on Christopher Tietjens, a young British aristocrat, and his experiences amid the horrors of the trenches and the social change occurring on the home front. Much of the plot revolves around a love triangle involving Tietjens' vindictive wife Sylvia and a young suffragette named Valentine. Based on the four novels by Ford Madox Ford published between 1924 and 1928.

© BBC Worldwide/HBO


Director: Andy De Emmony, 2013

In 1916, Fred Roberts, a British captain, discovered a printing press in the ruins of Ypres. Soon after, he and a few of his fellow officers began to publish The Wipers Times (a play on the British nickname for Ypres). This satirical magazine, produced under enemy fire and gas attacks, was filled with poetry, jokes, editorials, and even fake ads. The dark, subversive humor of The Wipers Times was enormously popular with the troops and helped boost their morale. The magazine was published until the end of the war and edited collections are still in print.

© Trademark Productions


Director: Deborah Warner, 1999

Set in Co. Cork in 1920, this film revolves around the lives and romantic complications of an aristocratic Anglo-Irish family living on their estate in the midst of the Irish war for independence. A compelling look at the last days of the Protestant Ascendancy and of their own sense of Irishness being tested through the changing national climate of their country and an uncertain future. Based on the 1929 novel by Elizabeth Bowen.

© Lions Gate


Director: Jeremy Sims, 2010

The story of the 1st Australian Tunneling Company's effort to mine beneath a German bunker in the Ypres Salient at the start of the Battle of Messines in June 1917. Their extremely perilous mission was to detonate an enormous explosive charge to aid the advance of British troops. The screenplay is based on an account of the ordeal written by Capt. Oliver Woodward, the officer who led the mission.

© Paramount


Director: Joseph Losey, 1964

In the trenches at Passchendaele, an army private, Arthur Hamp, leaves his company and is accused of desertion. He is defended at his trial by Capt. Hargreaves, an upper-class officer who is initially contemptuous of the simple-minded Hamp but comes to identify with his plight. Nevertheless Hamp must be made an example of. He is found guilty and is shot by a firing squad. The action is confined to the muddy, rat-infested trenches and barracks. Based on the 1955 novel by J.L. Hodson.

© VCI Video


Director: Philip Martin, 2012

This romance, told in a series of flashbacks, focuses on the experiences of Stephen Wraysford, a young Englishman who travels to Amiens in 1910 and has an affair with the wife of a French colleague but returns home shortly afterward. A few years later, Wraysford is deployed to the Western Front as an officer in a combat mining battalion. Amid his near-death experiences in battle he discovers the fate of his lost love. Based on the 1993 novel by Sebastian Faulks.

© Working Title Productions


Director: Gillies MacKinnon, 1998

Set in 1917 in an army sanitarium in Scotland, this film focuses on the psychiatric treatment of shell-shocked soldiers from the Western Front. The patients being treated range from the catatonic, amnesiac, and deranged to sane war heroes like the poet Siegfried Sassoon who is being punished for his anti-war pamphlets. A moving film with dialogue interspersed with voiced-over selections from the best-known verses of the British War Poets. Based on Pat Barker's 1991 novel and true events.

© Lions Gate


Director: Richard Boden, 1989

The fourth and final season of the BBC historical sitcom Black Adder is set in 1917 on the Western Front. This is a somewhat dark subject for a comedy and was a risky project for all involved. Yet the series succeeds in using humor to underscore the terrible conditions of the trenches, stunning incompetence of the leadership, and futile loss of life among the men. The final episode is particularly moving and gives a good sense of how the British view this war.



Director: James Kent, 2014

A coming-of-age story about Vera Brittain, an Oxford student and aspiring young writer, in the years before and during the First World War. As her brother, fiancé, and male schoolmates go off to fight, Vera joins the VAD (Volunteer Aid Detachment) and serves as a nurse in London, France, and Malta. The story follows Vera’s transformation as she and her generation move gradually from a life of comfort and privilege to one of hardship and sacrifice. Based on Brittain's acclaimed memoir from 1933.

© BBC Films


Director: Ken Loach, 2006

In 1919, Irish volunteers wage a guerrilla campaign against the ruthless "Black and Tan" paramilitary squads arriving from Britain to block Ireland's bid for independence. Driven by a deep sense of duty and love of country, Damien abandons a promising career as a doctor and joins his brother, Teddy, in this dangerous and violent struggle. Their victory is followed in 1922 by the Irish Civil War that pits these same comrades against each other. The title comes from a famous Irish ballad. This film won the Palme d'Or at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival.

© Sixteen Films


Director: Christopher Morahan, 1988

In 1919, Major Brendan Archer arrives in Ireland to reunite with his Anglo-Irish Protestant fiancée, Angela Spencer. Unfortunately, the Spencer family home, the Majestic Hotel on the Wexford coast, is a decaying shadow of its former self, as is Angela. Archer's attentions are soon drawn to her lively friend, Sarah Devlin, a passionate Irish nationalist. They fall in love, but Archer discovers some disturbing aspects about their relationship. Based on the 1970 novel by J.G. Farrell.

© BFS Entertainment


Director: Jonathan Lewis, 1992

This TV movie, produced for RTÉ, focuses on the painstaking negotiations in late 1921 between the provisional government of the Irish Republic and representatives of the British Government under David Lloyd George. An intelligent and even-handed film about a controversial moment in Irish political history that ended the Anglo-Irish War but split the republican movement and led to the Irish Civil War.

© RTÉ Films


Director: David Lean, 1984

Tensions between Indians and the colonial British residents of the town of Chandrapore boil over when a visiting Englishwoman, Adela Quested, accuses a young Indian physician, Dr. Aziz, of rape during a tour of the local caverns. Based on E.M. Forster's 1924 novel, this film can be seen as a study of colonial relations, perceived differences between East and West, and the nature of memory and friendship.

© Columbia/TriStar


Director: Brian Gilbert, 1994

The troubled marriage between the Anglo-American poet T.S. Eliot (Tom) and Vivienne Haigh-Wood (Viv) is the subject of this finely acted film. Plagued with numerous physical and mental debilitations, Viv is eventually committed to an asylum. The tragic relationship between Tom & Viv is set against the rise of Eliot's poetic career and the reactions of the literary elite in Edwardian and interwar Britain.

© Miramax


Director: Michael Lindsay-Hogg, 1981

Based on Evelyn Waugh's classic novel from 1945, this miniseries provides a vivid glimpse into the young lives of the "lost generation" of interwar Britain. Ranging from the early 1920s to the mid 1940s, the story is an elegy to youth and idyllic student days and the fading world of the Anglo-Catholic aristocracy. Brilliantly acted and beautifully filmed at Castle Howard in Yorkshire, this series is considered by many to be among the best ever film or television adaptations of a literary work.

© Acorn Media


Director: Hugh Hudson, 1981

The plot of this Academy Award winning film follows an unlikely pair of young athletes representing Britain as sprinters in the 1924 Paris Olympics. Eric is a Scottish divinity student whose running makes him feel closer to God. Harold, a Jew, is a highly competitive Cambridge student struggling to overcome institutional hurdles of class prejudice and anti-Semitism.

© Warner Home Video


Director: John Baxter, 1941

This film, based on the 1933 novel by William Greenwood, is set in an industrial slum in Salford and follows the travails of the Hardcastle family as they endure the crises of mass unemployment and tumultuous labor agitation in the 1930s. Throughout that decade, British film censors refused to allow a film to be made based on this book because of its controversial subject matter. It was finally produced in 1941, but by then war had dramatically changed the social conditions and employment situation throughout Britain.

© United Artists


Director: Stephen Frears, 2000

When Liam's father loses his job during the Depression, the family struggles to hold things together and everyone deals with the hardship in his or her own way. Liam's dad joins the fascists, his brother attends secret meetings of the socialists, and his sister goes to work as a housekeeper for a wealthy Jewish family, while Liam searches for answers in Catholicism. An unsentimental and provocative portrayal of working-class life and the tumultuous politics of 1930s Britain.

© Lions Gate


Director: Charles Sturridge, 1988

This adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's 1934 satirical novel tells the story of Tony and Brenda Last, an upper-class couple living on their country estate. Tired with their predictable and tedious social circuit, Brenda has an affair with a shallow and parasitic social climber who has befriended the couple. The film remains faithful to Waugh’s vision of upper-class tradition and gentility swept away by the avaricious demands of the rising middle classes.

© New Line Cinema


Director: Ferdinand Fairfax, 1981

This miniseries covers the decade of political exile in the career of Winston Churchill—a period he described as the most difficult of his life. When Churchill lost his cabinet post in 1929, most political observers thought his career was over. Yet the next decade would see the evolution of Churchill's maverick style of leadership as a defender of the British Empire, an opponent of appeasement, and eventually as a wartime prime minister. Starring Robert Hardy as Churchill.

© Wellspring Media Inc.


Director: Carol Reed, 1939

Davey Fenwick leaves his Northumberland mining village on a university scholarship and is intent upon becoming an activist for the nationalization of Britain's mines. Instead he returns home before finishing his degree and takes up work as a local schoolteacher. He soon finds himself uncomfortable in this role and when he learns that his father and the other miners are being coerced to work on a potentially deadly coal seam he decides to act. Based on the 1935 novel by A.J. Cronin.

© Grand National Pictures


Director: Michael Powell, 1937

In a remote fishing village on the Outer Hebrides island of Hirta a traditional way of life is dying. Large trawlers from the mainland threaten its economic survival and, one by one, the younger generation leaves for greater opportunities in the outside world. This was the first major film by the legendary English director Michael Powell and was filmed on location on the Hebridean island of St. Kilda at a time when studio sets in moviemaking were still the norm.



Director: Tom Hooper, 2001

Three young aristocratic women—Linda, Polly and Fanny—confront family politics and social convention in their search for love and marriage. This series oscillates between comedy and drama and is unsparing in its portrayal of the snobbish and socially suffocating attitudes of the English upper classes in the interwar years. Based on the novels by Nancy Mitford, the series was filmed at several English country homes including the Mitfords’ estate in Gloucestershire.

© Acorn Media


Director: Ken Loach, 1995

David, a young unemployed communist, leaves his hometown Liverpool in 1936 to join the struggle against fascism in Spain. He fights with the POUM, an international militia of Marxists, and after being wounded goes to Barcelona. There he grows disillusioned as he witnesses infighting and power struggles among the various anti-fascist groups. The story is very similar to the real-life experience of Eric Blair (George Orwell) described in Homage to Catalonia (1938).

© Lions Gate


Director: Waris Hussein, 1981

While still Prince of Wales, the future Edward VIII meets the married American socialite, Wallis Simpson. Their relationship causes an uproar in the palace and Parliament. When King George V dies in 1936, Mrs. Simpson gets divorced and King Edward announces his intentions to marry her. Produced in 1981, this miniseries coincided with the royal wedding of Charles and Diana and the revived public interest in the monarchy's past.

© Thames Television


Director: Gavin Millar, 2006

In the late 1930s, Nella Last, a housewife aged 49 living on the Northwest English coast, agrees to send the details of her daily routine to Mass Observation, a non-governmental project that chronicles the lives of ordinary Britons. When war comes in 1939, Nella defies her over-protective husband to join the local Women's Voluntary Service. Initially diffident, she blossoms amid her independence as a useful war worker.

© Acorn Media


Director: Joe Wright, 2007

In 1935, as the shadow of war looms over Europe, 13-year-old Briony Tallis and her family are enjoying the summer on their English estate. When she observes a flirtation between a servant's son and her older sister—that she childishly misconstrues—Briony's misunderstanding leads to a terrible crime whose consequences follow them through World War II. A powerful story about personal history and memory in one of Britain's most anxious periods. Based on the best-selling 2001 novel by Ian McEwan.

© Universal


Director: James Ivory, 1993

Mr. Stevens is a dedicated English butler dedicated to serving his aristocratic employer, Lord Darlington, during the late 1930s—the time of appeasement and growing tensions on European continent. In his single-minded devotion, Stevens sacrifices the most basic human intimacy in his dealings with the housekeeper, Miss Kenton, and also fails to see the naïve and destructive Nazi sympathies of Darlington until it is too late. Based on the 1989 novel by Kazuo Ishiguro.

© Columbia/TriStar


Director: Tom Hooper, 2010

When Edward VIII abdicated the throne in 1936, his younger brother George ("Bertie") became king. As a younger son, Bertie had never been groomed to be monarch and, with his awkward manner and dreadful stutter, was considered by many to be unfit to be king. This film focuses on the king's friendship with his unorthodox speech therapist, Lionel Logue, and the improvement in his speech that enabled George VI to become an effective wartime ruler.

© See Saw Films


Director: Richard Loncraine, 2002

An intimate look inside the marriage of Winston and Clementine Churchill during a particularly troubled, though little-known, period in their lives. In the late 1930s, Churchill found himself on the fringe of British politics: a lone voice warning his country and the world of the Nazi threat. Together with Clementine, he had to confront the personal demons of depression and the specter of insolvency before he could emerge as a reinvigorated wartime political leader. Starring Albert Finney as Churchill.

© HBO Films


Director: Suri Krishnamma, 2001

This miniseries is a stunning and powerful drama of a large, disparate, and privileged English family transformed by the tumultuous times in which they live. Based on the popular novels of Elizabeth Jane Howard, the story is set between 1937 and 1947, against a backdrop of war and a veneer of upper-class restraint and respectability.



Director: Max W. Kimmich, 1941

This Nazi propaganda film from 1941 tells the story of the O'Brien family and of their heroism and martyrdom over two generations as their country suffered under the oppressive rule of Britain. Produced for Nazi-occupied Europe, the film was intended to challenge pro-British allegiances, but in some cases it had the unintended consequence of making audiences identify the Irish struggle with their own resistance against the Nazis. The film itself is a fascinating historical document about the manipulation of Irish politics and anti-British attitudes.



Directors: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1943

This film chronicles the life and relationships of Gen. Clive Wynne-Candy, VC, an upper-class British Army officer, from his youth during the Boer War until his being called out of retirement to lead the Home Guard during the Second World War. The film was so controversial that Churchill and the War Office both tried unsuccessfully to prevent its release, claiming that the satirizing of martial honor and the sympathetic portrayal of Germans would undermine British wartime propaganda.

© Criterion


Director: Christopher Nolan, 2017

When Germany invaded France in 1940, British and French troops were routed from their positions and forced to retreat to the coastal town of Dunkirk across the channel from England. This film retells the familiar story of how over 300,000 Allied troops were rescued by a hastily assembled flotilla of hundreds of ships and small boats. The Dunkirk evacuation was a tactical victory but one that awakened Britain to the might of the German war machine and the vulnerability of their nation to invasion.

© Warner Bros.


Director: Ian Toynton, 1988

This miniseries tells the story of "Hornet Squadron," RAF fighter pilots dispatched to France at the outbreak of war in 1939. A thoughtful presentation of the air war since less of the story takes place during the famed Battle of Britain in the summer of 1940 and more in the "Phony War" that preceded it. Excellent aerial photography and a compelling storyline with good character development. Based on the 1983 novel by Derek Robinson.

© BFS Entertainment


Director: William Wyler, 1942

Mrs. Miniver is a typical English upper-middle class housewife. Her daily life is devoted to her family and lighthearted activities but as war arrives they take a darker turn. Soon Mrs. Miniver's routine includes fitting her children for gasmasks and waiting out air raids in the family’s Anderson shelter. This film won six Academy Awards including Best Picture and many credit the popular book on which it was based with helping turn American public opinion away from neutrality in favor of Britain.

© Warner Home Video


Director: Matthew Whiteman, 2010

This docudrama follows the experiences of 19-year old Geoffrey Wellum as he joins RAF 92 Squadron and is soon piloting a Spitfire in the skies over England. Though he is awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross, the months of harrowing air battles and the stress of seeing close comrades die take their toll and Wellum is invalided out of 92 Squadron after a nervous breakdown. Produced by BBC for the seventieth anniversary of the Battle of Britain, the film is narrated by Wellum and based on his 2002 memoir.

© BBC Films


Director: Thaddeus O'Sullivan, 2009

Continuing the storyline begun in The Gathering Storm, this film is set against the backdrop of the Second World War, and offers a compelling portrait of Britain's wartime prime minister. Churchill's dogged determination and charisma as a leader rallied the nation but ultimately undermined his political career and threatened his relationship with his most loyal supporter, his wife Clementine. Starring Brendan Gleeson as Churchill.

© HBO Films


Director: James Cellan Jones, 1991

This television series follows the experience of RAF fighter pilot Hugh Fleming who is left horribly disfigured from burns suffered when his plane is shot down during the Battle of Britain. As plastic surgeons labor to minimize the damage of his painful and gruesome injuries, Fleming transforms from an arrogant and callow youth into a man of character and wisdom, but less than the perfect hero that he and his wounded comrades are made out to be.

© Havahall Pictures


Creator: Anthony Horowitz, 2002

This acclaimed TV series is set during and after the Second World War in Hastings, Sussex, where police superintendent Christopher Foyle attempts to catch criminals taking advantage of the confusion of war. Amid a fully mobilized society and with battles raging daily in the skies above England, Foyle fights his own war investigating murder, theft, black-marketeering and fraud. The series has been praised for its attention to historical detail and for confronting many of the myths about British society on the home front during the war.

© Acorn Media


Director: John Boorman, 1987

A comic and poignant story of the Battle of Britain and the London Blitz as seen through the eyes of Bill Rohan, a seven-year-old boy stuck at home with his mother, aunts, and bratty sisters while Britain's fight for national survival is raging all around him. During this time Bill learns much about sex, death, love, hypocrisy, and the faults of adults as he plays in the ruins of bombed houses on his London street. Based on director John Boorman’s own childhood experiences during the war.



Director: Joe Wright, 2017

In May 1940, amid seemingly unstoppable German military conquests in Europe, Conservative MP Winston Churchill steps up to replace Neville Chamberlain as Britain's Prime Minister. With the fate of his nation hanging in the balance, Churchill and his government face either negotiating with Hitler or bracing the British people to fight on against incredible odds. Starring Gary Oldman as Churchill.

© Focus Features


Directors: Noel Coward and David Lean, 1942

Released in 1942, this film is more than mere propaganda about naval heroism; it is a window into the values and vulnerability of wartime Britain. Life aboard the destroyer HMS Torrin and among the families back home reveal a society ordered by class and tradition in which hardship is borne stoically and with quiet forbearance while sacrifice and devotion to duty remain the highest virtues. Written and directed by Noel Coward, the film is supposedly based on Lord Mountbatten's naval exploits.

© Westlake Video


Director: Guy Hamilton, 1969

This World War II epic recounts the heroic efforts of the Spitfire and Hurricane pilots of RAF Fighter Command who defended the skies over Britain in the summer of 1940. Their actions ultimately prevented a German invasion of the country. This film, with its all-star cast and spectacular aerial battle scenes, remains a popular tribute to "the few" who saved Britain.



Director: Charles Frend, 1953

At the start of the war, Cdr. George Ericson is given command of the corvette HMS Compass Rose and ordered to undertake convoy escort duty with officers and men just out of training and who have no experience at sea. The film captures well the constant danger, privation, boredom, and grim humor of sailors during the Battle of the Atlantic, one of the most critical theatres of war in Britain's struggle for survival. Based on the 1951 novel by Nicholas Monsarrat.

© Anchor Bay Entertainment


Director: Lone Scherfig, 2017

In 1940, Catrin Cole, a secretary, is hired by the Ministry of Information as a scriptwriter for films meant to boost the morale of British cinema goers and sway public opinion in America to support Britain in the war against Germany. A compelling look at the daily hardships and fearful uncertainty endured by the British people during the Blitz and the considerable propaganda value of the wartime film industry. Based on the 2009 novel by Lissa Evans.

© BBC Films


Director: Jan Sverák, 2001

A group of Czech air force pilots flee their homeland after German occupation in 1939 and are formed into their own Spitfire squadron by the RAF to fight their mutual enemy in the skies over Britain. This beautiful film brings into sharp focus the rarely told story of the hundreds of foreign airmen who participated in the Battle of Britain and of their interactions with English civilians. At the time it was produced, Dark Blue World was the most expensive Czech film ever made.

© Columbia/TriStar


Director: Brian Desmond Hurst, 1953

This film focuses on the heroic defense of Malta, Britain's vital fortress colony in the Mediterranean, during the Second World War. While the plot follows the exploits of a British reconnaissance pilot stationed on the island and his romance with a young Maltese woman, much attention is given to the courage of the Maltese people themselves in successfully withstanding one of the longest and most destructive bombardment campaigns of the war.



Director: John Hawkesworth, 1979

Lt. Brian Ash, a young officer in the Royal Engineers during the early days of the war, is assigned to a UXB ("unexploded bomb") unit. At the height of the Blitz, Ash and his men work courageously to deactivate German aerial bombs that have failed to detonate but which occasionally have time-delay fuses specifically designed to kill UXB men. The plot of this miniseries focuses on Ash's maturation as an officer and reveals the strain in wartime Britain that was endured by civilians and the military alike.

© ITV Films


Director: Steven Spielberg, 1987

Jamie Graham is an upper-class English schoolboy separated from his family after the Japanese Army invades the British sector of the international settlement in Shanghai in December 1941. Reduced to living on the street and fighting for food, he is eventually interned in a Japanese POW camp for British civilians. Amid sickness and food shortages in the camp, Jamie attempts to reconstruct his former life. Based on the 1984 autobiographical novel by J.G. Ballard.

© Warner Home Video


Director: Morten Tyldum, 2014

The true story of Alan Turing, a Cambridge mathematician and legendary cryptanalyst, who led a brilliant team of code-breakers at Britain's top-secret Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park during the Second World War. Turing's genius was instrumental in breaking Germany’s "Enigma" code and giving Britain a critical military advantage during the war. Afterwards he went on to be a pioneer in computer science and artificial intelligence.

© Black Bear Pictures


Directors: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1944

An American GI, a British tommy, and a "land girl" find themselves together in Chillingbourne, a small Kentish town on the road to Canterbury. The trio attempt to track down a local prankster and begin to suspect the town magistrate, an eccentric figure with a strange, mystical vision of the history of England in general and Canterbury in particular. An odd and complex film that is at once a mystery, a wartime drama, a paean to rural England, and an imaginative remake of Chaucer's classic pilgrimage tale.

© Criterion


Director: Stephen Mallatratt, 2004

This miniseries offers a riveting view of the German invasion and occupation of the Channel Islands—the only part of the British Isles that fell under German control during the Second World War—and how life changed overnight for the small community of British inhabitants. The experience of the Channel Islanders gives a glimpse of what might have happened to Britain if the Germans had succeeded in a larger cross-channel invasion.

© Acorn Media


Director: Jonathan Teplitzky, 2017

In June 1944, days before the Allied invasion of Normandy, Winston Churchill expresses strong reservations about the plan because of his memory and lingering feelings of guilt over the failed Gallipoli landings in the First World War, for which he was responsible. He is also frustrated at being sidelined in the leadership of the military campaign by Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight Eisenhower and British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery. Starring Brian Cox as Churchill.

© Lionsgate


Director: Michael Anderson, 1954

Considered a classic of British cinema, this film tells the true story of the daring plan to bomb the dams of the Ruhr Valley at the heart of German industry. The story begins with Dr. Barnes Wallis and the innovative but difficult development of his "bouncing bomb". After intensive pilot training and practice runs, these bombs were delivered by a squadron of specially modified Lancaster bombers led by RAF Wing Commander Guy Gibson in one of the most dangerous missions of the war.

© Anchor Bay Entertainment


Director: Bryan Forbes, 1965

In the Changi POW camp in Singapore life is a living hell for the Allied prisoners. While the men barely survive in a sub-human existence, an enterprising and cynical American corporal, "King Rat", controls the camp's black market and makes deals with the Japanese guards. The story follows his interaction with two British officers: Lt. Marlowe, a genteel upper-class soldier, and Lt. Grey, the camp provost and a humorless and moralizing prig. Based on the 1962 debut novel by former POW James Clavell.

© Sony Pictures


Directors: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1945

Joan Webster, a young, middle-class Englishwoman with an ambitious and independent spirit, knows where she's going, or at least she thinks she does. She travels from her home in Manchester to Kiloran, a fictitious island in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland to marry a wealthy, middle-aged industrialist. Stranded by stormy weather, Joan meets a handsome naval officer who threatens to upend her carefully laid-out life plans.

© Criterion


Director: David Lean, 1957

During the Second World War, British, Australian, Dutch and American POWs are given the task, by their Japanese captors, of building a railway bridge in the harsh Southeast Asian jungle. Led by Colonel Nicholson, a stereotypically reserved and stoical English officer, the prisoners score a moral victory over the Japanese by not only building the bridge, but running the whole show. Based on the 1952 novel by Pierre Boulle.

© Columbia/TriStar


Director: Peter Sheridan, 2000

In 1942, Brendan Behan, the acclaimed Irish dramatist, is sixteen years old and headed to Liverpool on an IRA bombing mission. The mission is thwarted and he is convicted and imprisoned in Borstal, a reformatory for young offenders in East Anglia. There Brendan is forced to live and work side-by-side with those he perceives as the enemy—a confrontation that reveals a deep inner conflict in the young man and forces a difficult self-examination. Based on Behan's 1958 autobiographical novel.

© Strand Releasing


Director: Stuart Cooper, 1975

Beginning with a premonition of his death, this film follows young Thomas Beddows through his call up to the East Yorkshire Regiment, his training, his fleeting romance with a young Englishwomen, his journey to France, and his death on D-Day at Sword Beach. Images of army training, the London Blitz and RAF bombing of Europe emphasize the events leading up to the invasion and the sense of anticipation and foreboding experienced by British soldiers. Filmed in black and white and interpersed with archival film footage from the Imperial War Museums.

© Criterion


Director: David Lean, 1945

This is the story of a chaste but deeply passionate affair that develops between two middle-aged married people who meet by chance in a railway station café. After much agonizing they reach the painful realization that their love is an impossibility given their social and family responsibilities. The film offers a good view of the austerity and morality of wartime Britain and is considered to be one of the finest romances produced by the British film industry. Based on the 1936 play by Noel Coward.

© Criterion


Director: Jonathan Teplitzsky, 2013

The true story of Eric Lomax, a British soldier who becomes a POW of the Japanese after the fall of Singapore in February 1942. Forced to work building the infamous "death railway" in Southeast Asia, Lomax suffers gruesome torture at the hands of his Japanese captors. He survives the experience but is left deeply traumatized. Decades later he sets out to confront the man responsible for his ordeal. A moving film based on Lomax’s 1995 memoir.

© Lions Gate


Director: Christopher Morahan, 1984

This fourteen-part miniseries originally produced for Granada Television in Britain tells the story of a small group of Britons and Indians from the middle of the Second World War to the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947. The historical authenticity of the plot and complex characters provide an excellent glimpse into the psyche of the British in India during the final days of the "Raj." Based on Paul Scott's Raj Quartet novels published between 1965 and 1975.

© A&E Home Entertainment


Director: Tom Clegg, 1986

This TV miniseries traces the events and experiences of the last viceroy of India, Lord Louis Mountbatten, and his wife Lady Edwina. In early 1947, Mountbatten arrived in India to oversee the transfer of power to independent India and Pakistan. The film captures well the challenges, dilemmas, and tragedies involved in the British withdrawal and the partition of the Indian subcontinent.

© Bonneville Video


Director: Amma Asante, 2016

In 1947, Seretse Khama, a law student in London and the crown prince of the Protectorate of Bechuanaland (present-day Botswana), meets and marries Ruth Williams, an English clerk. The marriage offends racial sensibilities in both families and threatens Khama's claim to the throne. The couple face enormous stress on their relationship and family life as they maneuver diplomatically with British colonial officials eager to placate the racism of neighboring South Africa while maintaining control over Bechuanaland's vast mineral resources.

© Pathé


Creator: Philip Morgan, 2016

This television series portrays Queen Elizabeth II from her wedding as crown princess in 1947 through her accession to the throne, her coronation, and the early years of her reign. Events in Elizabeth’s life are set against the political and social changes of postwar Britain. Reception to the series was overwhelmingly positive, with critics praising cast performances and the accurate historical portrayal of the beginning of Elizabeth's reign.

© Netflix


Director: John Alexander, 2009

Born into a broken home and an impoverished life in colonial Jamaica, Hortense longs for a fulfilling life in England. During World War II the opportunity arises and a newly-married Hortense and her husband are soon on their way to the promised land of postwar Britain. The immigrant couple's dreams are soon tested by the harsh realities of racism and poverty in the heart of a declining empire. Based on the 2004 novel by Andrea Levy.

© Ruby Television for BBC


Director: Charles Sturridge, 2016

In 1953 Winston Churchill, age 78, suffers a severe stroke eighteen months into his second term as prime minister. He is confined to his rural home and his condition is kept secret from the public and his political adversaries. This TV drama focuses on Churchill's illness, his strained relationship with his wife and children, and his friendship with the nurse who aids him in his recovery. Starring Michael Gambon as Churchill and based on the 2015 novel by Jonathan Smith.

© Daybreak Pictures


Director: Peter Moffat, 2003

In 1934, four brilliant, upper-class students at Trinity College, Cambridge were recruited to spy for the Soviet Union. Fueled by youthful idealism, a passion for social justice, a talent for lying, and a hatred for fascism, the four took huge personal risks in their later careers to pass on Britain's most sensitive secrets to Moscow. This series offers a compelling and intimate look at one of Britain's most notorious spy cases as well as the elitism and social privilege that placed the men themselves above suspicion.

© BBC Films


Directors: Harry Bradbeer, Coky Giedroyc, Jamie Payne, 2011

This British television series offers a behind-the-scenes drama and espionage thriller about a TV news and current affairs program launched by the BBC in 1956 shortly before the Suez crisis. The series has received mixed reviews, but most critics have been impressed by the attention to historical detail. An evocative recreation of the style and attitudes of metropolitan Britain during the Cold War and the end of the British Empire.

© BBC Films


Director: Jack Clayton, 1959

John Lampton is an ambitious man of working-class origin employed in a dreary company town in postwar North England. Intelligent and hardworking, he is deeply resentful of class prejudice and eager to climb to the top in his company and in society. Along the way he has a relationship with an older French woman who helps him polish his image, but then abandons her to marry the boss's daughter. A bitter critique of the soulless pursuit of wealth and prestige. Based on the 1957 novel by John Braine.

© VCI Video


Director: Michael Radford, 1984

In 1984 (the not-so-distant future) rocket bombs and rats prey upon the metropolis of London, now the capital of the totalitarian state of Oceania. Under the ceaseless gaze of "Big Brother," an anonymous drone in the Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith, commits the crime of falling in love. Based on the 1948 masterpiece of literature and social commentary by George Orwell, this film—released in the year of book's title and starring John Hurt as Smith—is considered by many to be the best screen adaptation.

© Lions Gate


Director: John Schlesinger, 1963

Billy Fisher is a lazy and irresponsible young clerk in a provincial North England town who lives in a fantasy world and makes emotionally immature decisions that alienate his friends and family. The social atmosphere of Britain in this period is well rendered with the older wartime generation—represented by Billy's working-class parents—very much at odds with what they see as a spoiled and decadent youth culture. Based on the 1960 play by Willis Hall.

© Vic Films


Director: Karel Reisz, 1961

Throughout the 1950s, a group of young writers referred to as "Angry Young Men" excoriated in their novels and plays what they perceived to be the dominant and superficial materialism of postwar British society. This film is based on one such novel from 1958 by Alan Sillitoe that focuses on a disillusioned factory worker in an English Midlands town who works all week so that he can afford to drink and chase women on Saturday evenings.



Director: Richard Attenborough, 1993

This film is based on the real-life romance during the 1950s between the British writer C.S. Lewis and divorced American poet Joy Gresham. Lewis is living comfortably as a respected Oxford don, his scholarly lifestyle serving as a shell protecting him from the emotional risk of love, when Gresham arrives at the university. The safety of his academic routine is quickly disrupted when Lewis realizes that he has fallen deeply and unexpectedly in love.

© HBO Films


Director: Peter Medak, 1990

A disturbing character study of the twins Ronnie and Reggie Kray, two of the most notorious gangsters in British history. The plot follows the boys from their working-class childhood in war-ravaged East London through their rise as young men in the city's organized crime underworld during the heyday of the "swinging sixties." The film focuses on the psychology of the men from their extreme violence to the warm relationship they maintained with their doting mother. The Krays are still the subject of much urban folklore in London.

© Sony Pictures


Director: Mike Leigh, 2004

Vera Drake is completely devoted to, and loved by, her working class family. She spends her days doting on them and caring for her sick neighbor and elderly mother. She also secretly visits women and helps them induce miscarriages for unwanted pregnancies. The practice was illegal in 1950s England and when the authorities finally find out what she has been doing, Vera's world and family life rapidly unravel.

© Fine Line Features


Director: John Guillermin, 1964

Regimental Sergeant-Major Lauderdale is an old-school martinet assigned with other British NCOs and officers to a remote African outpost to train soldiers of a newly independent former colony (a thinly veiled Kenya). When a populist uprising overthrows the government, soldiers loyal to the new regime take over the barracks prompting a tense standoff with Lauderdale and his men. Released in 1964, at the height of decolonization, this film is a useful artifact of British feelings about the end of their empire. Based on the 1962 novel by Robert Holles.

© Twentieth Century Fox


Director: Lone Scherfig, 2009

In the early 1960s, Jenny Mellor is a gifted but socially awkward sixteen-year old living with her parents in the London suburb of Twickenham. To fulfill her father's wishes, everything she does is in the sole pursuit of being accepted into Oxford. When she becomes involved with a dashing playboy nearly twice her age, she must decide whether to embrace his glamorous but suspect lifestyle or continue with her education. Based loosely on the 2009 memoir by journalist Lynn Barber.

© BBC Films


Director: Lindsay Anderson, 1963

Frank Machin is a brutal and emotionally desensitized miner from North England who joins a local rugby league. The film oscillates between the physical violence of the rugby pitch and the emotional violence Frank inflicts on his widowed landlady and love interest. This Sporting Life was among the best of Britain's “kitchen sink” dramas—gritty and realistic films that captured the dark side of working class life and which were popular in the 1950s and 60s. Based on the 1960 novel by David Storey.

© Criterion


Director: Michael Caton-Jones, 1989

The true story of the 1963 Profumo affair. John Profumo was cabinet secretary for war in the Macmillan government when he met a teenage cabaret dancer named Christine Keeler. Profumo and Keeler had an affair, and the ensuing scandal caused him (after many strenous denials) eventually to resign. The Profumo affair was a notorious event in its time and contributed to the defeat of the Conservatives in the 1964 general election.

© Anchor Bay Entertainment


Director: Richard Lester, 1964

The premise of this film is an exaggerated "day in the life" of the Liverpool music group, The Beatles. The Fab Four travel from train to hotel to television studio with their road crew while fleeing mobs of adoring fans and performing their hit songs. Nobody expected this first movie by the group to be much more than the quick exploitation of a passing musical fad, but when the film opened it immediately seduced the world and garnered two Academy Award nominations.

© Miramax


Director: Martin Ritt, 1965

Alec Leamas is a burned-out, aging British spy recalled to service and sent to East Germany supposedly to defect, but in fact to sow disinformation. Leamas soon becomes convinced that his own agency sees him as expendable and is setting him up for a fall. His struggle back from dehumanization is the final focus of the story. This film was based on the popular Cold War thriller from 1963 by novelist John Le Carré and offers a gritty and unsentimental glimpse into British espionage—a stark contrast to James Bond fantasy.

© Paramount


Director: Peter Watkins, 1965

Originally produced as a docudrama for BBC television at the height of the Cold War, The War Game remains one of the most controversial films in British history. It graphically depicts the aftermath of a thermonuclear attack on Kent, England, and the effect on public order and the private lives of individuals. For twenty years the film was banned by the government as "too horrifying" for British audiences despite winning the Academy Award for best documentary in the year of its release.

© New Yorker Films


Director: Stanley Kubrick, 1971

This shocking film depicts a futuristic Britain in which a gang of teenagers goes on the rampage every night, beating, robbing, and raping helpless victims. After one of the boys is arrested he submits to "aversion therapy" to shorten his jail sentence, but when he is released, he finds that his new revulsion to violence leaves him ill-suited to function in a deeply violent and dysfunctional society. A dark and satirical social commentary based on Anthony Burgess' 1962 novel.

© Warner Home Video


Director: Lindsay Anderson, 1968

A daringly anarchic vision of British society, set in a boys boarding school in late-1960s England as seen through the eyes of Mick Travis, an insouciant and rebellious new student. Mick, along with his school chums, endures indignities and occasional abuse while flouting authority at every turn in a vicious cycle of one-upmanship played by students, prefects and masters. A wicked indictment of Britain's elite public school system and the ruling class that it incubates.

© Criterion


Director: Richard Curtis, 2009

In the 1960s an unusual and colorful subculture grew from the upswing in British pop music. Since BBC Radio devoted little airtime to rock & roll, small bands of "pirate" radio enthusiasts began broadcasting 24 hours a day from boats just outside British territorial waters. At their height, they reached an estimated 25 million listeners. This film takes place aboard a rusty fishing trawler equipped to broadcast and staffed by a motley crew of DJs. Released in Britain as The Boat that Rocked.

© Focus Features


Director: Peter Medak, 1972

An eccentric member of the House of Lords dies in a bizarre accident leaving his estate to his son. Unfortunately, the son is insane and thinks he is, alternately, Jesus Christ and Jack the Ripper. Nevertheless, he is compelled by his late father's will to take up his role among the "ruling class" and assume the family seat in the House of Lords. This dark comedy delivers a scathing yet witty attack on Britain's class system and its political and social conceits.

© Criterion


Director: David Hugh Jones, 1987

The true story of the 20-year correspondence between Helene Hanff, a struggling New York writer, and Frank Doel, an antiquarian bookseller in London. Their relationship begins when Helene makes a mail order purchase of a few rare books from Frank. The two remain in contact and over the years eventually develop a special friendship and mutual unspoken love without ever having seen each other. Based on the 1970 book by Hanff.

© Columbia/TriStar


Director: Tom Hooper, 2006

Originally produced for ITV, this film is inspired by real events in the life of Francis Pakenham, the 7th Earl of Longford. In 1965, despite a public outcry, Lord Longford befriended one of England's most notorious criminals, a young woman named Myra Hindley serving a life sentence for brutally murdering several children with her then lover, Ian Brady. Lord Longford, a devout Catholic, often visited prisoners because of his passionate belief in forgiveness and in British society's need for prisoner rehabilitation.

© ITV/HBO Films


Director: Ken Loach, 1970

Billy, a 15-year-old miner’s son in a working-class Yorkshire town, forms a close bond with a wild kestrel that he trains after reading a book about falconry. Billy's friendship with his kestrel offers a spiritual escape from his dead-end life. Kes pushed British cinema to a new level of realism, using real locations and nonprofessional actors. This poignant coming-of-age drama remains director Ken Loach's most beloved and influential film and was named one of the ten best British films of the 20th century by the BFI. Based on the 1968 novel by Barry Hines.

© Criterion


Director: Franc Roddam, 1979

Jimmy, a young mailroom clerk living with his working-class parents in 1960s London, hates his job and his dull life. His only pleasure is the "Mod" lifestyle of music, drugs, fashion and motor-scooters that he shares with his friends. Based on the 1973 rock opera by The Who, this film depicts the rivalry between two subcultures of British youth—"Mods" and "Rockers"—that occasionally spilled over into violence in the seaside towns along the English Channel.

© The Who Films/Polytel


Director: Nigel Cole, 2010

In 1968, the Ford of Britain plant in Dagenham, a suburb of London, was the fourth largest auto manufacturer in the world and one of the largest private employers in Britain. Among the 55,000 workers were 187 women who were employed primarily as upholstery stitchers. This film tells the story of Rita O'Grady, a worker who led a strike for women to be redesignated as "skilled" labor and paid an equal wage as men. Their political struggle led all the way to Parliament and resulted in the passage of the Equal Pay Act in 1970.

© BBC Films


Director: Roger Donaldson, 2008

Based on a 1971 bank heist in London, from which millions of pounds worth of cash and valuables were never recovered. Details were suppressed by a "D-Notice" government gag order, allegedly to protect a prominent member of the royal family. According to the producers, the film reveals the truth for the first time, although it includes significant elements of fiction and the extent to which it represents historical fact is difficult to determine. The actual files are sealed in the National Archives until 2054.

© Lions Gate


Director: Yann Demange, 2014

In 1971, Private Gary Hook, a young British soldier, is accidentally abandoned by his unit following a terrifying riot on the streets of Belfast. Attacked by a mob, he is alternately helped by random kindness from various locals and pursued by killers from both the Provisional IRA and the British Army's Military Reaction Force. Unable to tell friend from foe, the raw recruit must survive the night alone and find his way to safety through a disorienting, alien, and deadly landscape.

© Crab Apple Films


Director: Damien O'Donell, 1999

This film is set in Salford, Britain, in 1971. Fish-and-chip shop owner George Khan expects his family to follow his strict Pakistani Muslim ways. But his children, with an English mother and having been born and brought up in Britain, increasingly see themselves as British and start to reject their father's rules on dress, food, religion, and living in general.

© Miramax


Directors: Frances Alcock and John Irvin, 1979

George Smiley, a retired British spy, is taken to the home of an advisor to the prime minister on intelligence matters where he is given evidence that one of the men in the senior ranks of his old agency is a Russian spy. Smiley is asked to find him, without access to any of the agency’s files or letting on that anyone is under suspicion. This miniseries was based on the 1974 novel by John Le Carré and starred Alec Guiness as Smiley. The excellent feature film (2011) stars Gary Oldman.

© Acorn Media


Director: Paul Greengrass, 2002

This film tells the story of Bloody Sunday—January 30, 1972—as it unfolded over one day, chronicling the arrival of thousands of British troops in the tense and crowded streets of Derry in Northern Ireland and the simultaneous preparations by civil rights leaders for a nonviolent but forceful march that was to make the case for Irish self-determination. The day tragically ended with British troops killing thirteen unarmed civilians. Based on the book by investigative journalist Don Mullan, a Derry native who witnessed the event as a teenager.

© Paramount


Director: Lynne Ramsey, 1998

Set in a Glasgow slum during a 1973 trash collectors' strike, this film follows young James, who is distraught after accidentally causing the death of his friend and who dreams of moving into newly-built council flats. The plot moves between James' family and his friendships with other children. Even as the trash bags pile up, James takes comfort in something as simple as being combed for head lice.

© Criterion


Director: Milad Bessada, 1974

This intense and realistic drama is centered on a pair of Catholic identical twins, one from Belfast and the other living in Canada who comes to visit her sister. The plot culminates in a bombing by the Provisional IRA, the tarring and feathering of one of the women—because of her love for a British soldier—and the ultimate revenge of the troops. Based on the play by Andrew Dalrymple.

© Twinbay Media International


Director: Tom Hooper, 2009

This sports drama portrays Brian Clough’s 44-day tenure as the manager of Leeds United, England’s top football club in the mid-1970s. Shortly after taking over, Clough immediately alienates his players by his disgust at their dirty style of play and his assertion that their earlier victories were the result of cheating. An entertaining look inside Britain’s most important sport and the culture built around it. Based on the 2006 novel by David Peace.

© BBC Films


Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel, 2009

In 1975, in Northern Ireland, seventeen-year-old UVF member Alistair Little kills a Catholic boy, Jimmy Griffin, in his house in front of his younger brother Joe. Alistair is arrested and imprisoned for twelve years while Joe is blamed by his mother for not saving his brother. Thirty-three years later, a TV program arranges the meeting of Alistair and Joe expecting the truth to come out and then for reconciliation between the two.

© IFC Independent


Director: Alex Cox, 1986

The morbid true story of Sid Vicious, bass player with the British punk group The Sex Pistols, and his girlfriend Nancy Spungen. When the The Sex Pistols break up after their fateful US tour, Vicious attempts a solo career while in the grip of a heroin addiction. A graphic and at times disturbing view of the "punk" subculture that emerged from the youth of depressed industrial Britain in the late 1970s.



Director: Phillyda Lloyd, 2011

In 1979, Conservative MP Margaret Thatcher became Britain’s first woman prime minister, overcoming barriers of class and gender along the way. This biopic traces the events of Thatcher’s controversial premiership through a series of flashbacks beginning with her first campaign for a seat in Parliament to her resignation as PM in 1990. Meryl Streep won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Thatcher.

© Pathé


Director: Terry George, 1996

Based on the true story of the 1981 hunger strike in the Maze, a British prison in Northern Ireland, in which republican prisoner Bobby Sands led a protest against the treatment of him and other inmates as criminals rather than as prisoners of war. The film focuses on the mothers of two of the strikers, and their struggle to save the lives of their sons.

© Castle Rock


Director: Steve McQueen, 2008

This film dramatizes the six weeks prior to the death of Bobby Sands during the 1981 hunger strikes in Northern Ireland. Sands was the first of several Irish republicans in the Maze Prison to use the hunger strike to gain status as political prisoners. His example increased worldwide attention to Northern Ireland's troubles, galvanized the republican and loyalist communities, and ignited debate about the morality of this extreme form of protest.

© Blast Films


Director: Stuart Urban, 1992

This film portrays the days and hours before and during Argentina's 1982 invasion of the Falkland Islands, a British dependency in the South Atlantic. As Argentine forces land on the eastern island and make their way towards the town of Stanley, a detachment of Royal Marines prepares to defend the governor, his family, and their fellow islanders from the invaders. Based on actual accounts (though with some inaccuracies) the film aired on British TV during the tenth anniversary of the Falklands War.

© BFS Entertainment


Director: Tristán Bauer, 2005

This Argentine film tells the story of the Falklands War through a series of flashbacks among veterans living with the scars of their country's "unwinnable" war. The plot takes the men back to their foxholes on the windswept and desolate Malvinas (Falklands) during the harrowing battles they fought with British forces sent to retake the islands. The Falklands War brought down Argentina's military junta while in Britain it contributed to a surge in popularity for Margaret Thatcher's government.

© Canal + España


Director: Shane Meadows, 2006

Shaun is a 12-year-old loner living with his mother in an economically depressed English coastal town in 1983 after his father was killed in the Falklands War. He runs into a group of skinheads who, against expectations, turn out to be friendly and take him under their wing and fulfill his need for belonging. A complex coming-of-age story about race, masculinity and national identity based largely on the director's own experiences as a youth.

© Warp Films


Director: Mike Leigh, 1985

Two Belfast couples are each expecting their first child around the same day as the July 12th Orange marches. Collette and Eugene are Catholic—he was crippled from abuse by British soldiers. Lorraine and Billy are Protestant—he is a soldier in the Ulster Defence Regiment. Both women have their babies on the same day and share a hospital room while earlier their husbands sit together in the waiting area. A quietly moving film about normal human interaction among people in a divided society.

© Water Bearer Films


Director: Jim Sheridan, 1993

One of the most controversial court cases in modern British history is the subject of this award-winning film. Gerry Conlon, a Belfast youth living in England, and three friends are convicted of the 1974 IRA pub bombing in Guildford. Even Conlon's father is jailed. An appeal to the British judiciary reveals forced confessions and wrongful prosecution. The appeal ultimately wins the release of the "Guildford Four" after years in prison and calls into question the integrity of Britain's criminal justice system.

© Universal


Director: Alan Clarke, 1982

A raw and disturbing film about an unconventional teenaged skinhead named Trevor who cycles through a system of jails, courtrooms, counseling, and job centres. Despite the best effort of police and social workers, he remains determined to hold onto his hatred and defiance rather than toe the line in a society that values obedience and conformity. Intelligent and articulate, yet excessively profane, racist, and violent, Trevor challenges the stereotypes often attached to such figures in British society. Tim Roth's first film role.

© Blue Underground


Director: Ken Loach, 1990

The plot of this film follows the relationship between Stevie, an ex-con construction worker, and his new girlfriend, Susan, an unemployed pub singer. Yet what is most entertaining and thought-provoking are the conversations among the multi-racial construction crew as they convert old buildings into condos for London's nouveau riche. This film is both a comedy and a harsh critique of the shabby working and living conditions of the urban poor in Thatcher's Britain.

© New Line Cinema


Director: Stephen Frears, 1985

This film is set within the South Asian community in London during the 1980s. The main character, Omar, gains the running of his Uncle Nasser's laundromat. He is helped by his friend Johnny, who is white and an outsider, but not entirely accepted by either the white or Asian Londoners. A revealing perspective on multi-cultural London and the "Empire" coming home to Britain.

© Warner Home Video


Director: Michael Stellman, 1988

Reuben, a black man, returns to his London council estate after being discharged from the elite paratroopers regiment as a decorated veteran of Northern Ireland and the Falklands War. Despite his military service, he finds it difficult to get a job and integrate back into society. Once Reuben realizes that his illustrious military record holds no sway in civilian life he slowly but surely falls back into a life of petty crime with devastating consequences. One of Denzel Washington's earliest film roles.

© Working Title Films


Director: Udayan Prasad, 1997

Parvez is a westernized Pakstani taxi driver living in the English Midlands town of Bradford. He watches helplessly as his British-born son, Farid, embraces Islamic fundamentalism in response to the bigotry and perceived moral degeneracy of working class life in England. The film has its comic moments but is mostly a drama dealing with cross-cultural and generational gaps among the South Asian community in Britain.

© Miramax


Director: Nicholas Hytner, 2006

Set in Sheffield in 1983, this film focuses on the lives of a gifted but unruly group of grammar school boys preparing for the entrance examinations of Britain's elite universities, Oxford and Cambridge. The plot revolves around the relationships between teachers and students and the typical pressures of adolescence, but also offers a revealing glimpse into the British educational system. Based on the Tony award-winning 2004 play by Alan Bennett.

© Fox Searchlight


Director: Ken Loach, 1993

This is the story of a working-class Manchester man devoted to his family and his Catholic religion. Although he has no money and is living on the dole, he is determined to buy his daughter a new dress for her first communion and tries to raise the money through various odd jobs until in desperation he is forced to borrow it from a local loan shark. The film was shot on location in the depressed "overspill" council estate of Langley in Middleton.

© Fox Lorber


Director: Matthew Warchus, 2014

The uplifting true story of a group of lesbian and gay activists who raised money and travelled to a beleaguered coal town in Wales to help families affected by the British miners' strike in 1984. After an awkward start, the "Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners" campaign led to an alliance between the two communities. A glimpse into the social and cultural changes underway in Britain during the Thatcher years.

© BBC Films


Director: Ken Loach, 1990

After an American human rights lawyer is assassinated in Belfast his girlfriend comes to Northern Ireland to learn the truth about his death. She is joined by a respected and fair-minded police detective from England assigned to the case. Their inquiry leads to backroom meetings with IRA gunmen and officers of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and exposes political manipulation and betrayal of trust at the highest levels of government.



Director: Stephen Daldry, 2000

Set in 1984 against the backdrop of a bitter miners' strike in Yorkshire, Billy Elliot is an eleven-year-old boy who stumbles out of the boxing ring and onto the ballet floor. There he is forced to confront the disapproval of his working class mining family and build up his own self-confidence as he auditions for the Royal Ballet School.

© Universal


Director: Paul Seed, 1990

Based on the 1989 novel by Michael Dobbs, this BBC miniseries tells the darkly satirical story of a ruthless and unscrupulous Conservative MP, Francis Urquhart, determined to advance himself politically, socially, and financially at all costs. House of Cards first aired on British television in the same year that Margaret Thatcher resigned after eleven years as Prime Minister. The series is part of a trilogy whose later installments include To Play the King (1993) and The Final Cut (1995).

© BBC Video


Director: Kari Skogland, 2008

From 1987 to 1991 Martin McGartland, a young Belfast Catholic, lived the harrowing double life of a secret agent. To the IRA, he was a trusted intelligence gatherer and an integral member of an active cell, but to the British government he was one of their most valuable informants. McGartland is credited by British intelligence with saving the lives of at least fifty people marked for assassination by the IRA. Based on McGartland's 1997 book.

© Phase 4 Films


Director: Gurinder Chadha, 2002

Jess is a girl from a conservative Sikh family living in Hounslow, West London. Her only desire is to become a famous football star like her idol, David Beckham, but her traditional family refuses even to consider it. A light-hearted look at the tensions of family politics and growing up in the midst of two cultures.

© Twentieth Century Fox


Director: Jim Sheridan, 1998

When former IRA member Danny Flynn returns to Belfast after fourteen years in prison, he wants only to find peace, resume his boxing career, and search out his long lost love. This film portrays with stark honesty the lives of ordinary people caught up in the sectarian violence of Northern Ireland, one of Britain's longest and most troublsome political problems.

© Universal


Director: Stephen Frears, 2003

This British television drama depicts the longstanding political rumor that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown made a pact that Blair would step down as Prime Minister so that Brown could take his place. The film begins in 1983, as the two men are first elected to Parliament, and concludes in 1994 at the time of the supposed agreement—with a brief epilogue following the 1997 general election. Based on James Naughtie's 2001 book The Rivals.

© Granada Television


Director: Paul Seed, 1993

In this second installment of the House of Cards trilogy, Prime Minister Urquhart faces off against the newly crowned king over the government's policies. The king's desire to be relevant to his people as a social reformer leads him to throw his high-profile support behind the opposition leader, violating the tradition of royal non-interference in parliamentary politics. A darkly comic portrayal of the still tenuous relationship in Britain between the monarchy and government. Based on the 1992 novel by Michael Dobbs.

© BBC Video


Director: Danny Boyle, 1996

Based on Irvine Welsh's controversial first novel from 1993, this film revolves around a group of heroin-addicted friends among the working-class youth of Edinburgh and paints a bleak picture of the violent and hopeless existence within Britain's junkie subculture. Filled with black humor and local slang, the film provides a gripping look into the darker side of modern British society.

© Miramax


Director: Stephen Frears, 2006

An intimate and, at times, darkly comic view of the interaction between Queen Elizabeth II and the new prime minister Tony Blair following the untimely death of Diana, Princess of Wales, in August 1997. As days passed, the Queen and Prime Minister struggled to reach a compromise between what was a private tragedy for the Royal family and the public demand for an overt display of mourning from the nation's leaders.

© Miramax


Director: Michael Winterbottom, 1999

This realistic and well-acted film traces the ordinary working-class lives of a middle-aged London couple and their four adult children over a period of three days during Guy Fawkes weekend. A harsh and unsentimental view of the loneliness, anonymity, vulnerability and, ultimately, the humanity of life in modern urban Britain.

© BBC Films


Director: Stephen Frears, 2002

Okwe, a kind-hearted Nigerian doctor, and Senay, a Turkish chambermaid, work at the same West London hotel. The hotel is the sort of place where drug dealing and prostitution regularly takes place, but when Okwe finds a human heart in one of the rooms, he uncovers something far more sinister than just a common crime. A harrowing yet uplifting view into the shadow world of illegal immigrants and asylum seekers in present-day Britain.

© Miramax


Director: Pete Travis, 2004

On August 15, 1998, a car bomb exploded in Omagh, Northern Ireland, killing 29 people and injuring some 220 others. It was the single worst act of terrorism in Northern Ireland in over thirty years. This film, produced for British television, revolves around the atrocity, the subsequent investigation, and the lives of the affected families.

© Channel Four Films


Director: Richard Loncraine, 2010

This TV drama focuses on the political relationship between Tony Blair and Bill Clinton. In 1994, Blair as Labour opposition leader travels to the US and is impressed by the centrist policies of the newly-elected Democrat president—on which he then models the political refashioning of his own party. After Blair becomes prime minister in 1997, the story shifts to the pair's handling of such temptestuous issues as Northern Ireland and Kovoso and the controversy surrounding the Lewinsky sex scandal.

© BBC Films


Director: Pete Travis, 2003

In this miniseries produced for Granada Television, a jury is selected from a cross-section of British society to render a verdict in a racially charged case. Duvinder Singh, a Sikh schoolboy, is accused of murdering a white classmate who had continually bullied him. This series was filmed at the Old Bailey, the main London courthouse, and accurately portrays the inner workings of the British criminal justice system as well as the tense racial politics of contemporary urban Britain.

© Granada/WGBH


Director: Sarah Gavron, 2007

A young Bangladeshi woman, Nazneen, arrives in 1980s London, leaving behind her beloved sister and home, for an arranged marriage and a new life. Trapped within the four walls of her flat in East London, and in a loveless marriage with a middle-aged businessman, she fears her soul is quietly dying. Yet the free-thinking society that surrounds her eventually penetrates the traditions she holds dear, and slowly Nazneen awakens to her own ideas and her own choices. Based on the 2003 novel by Monica Ali.

© Film4


Director: Nick Love, 2004

A lurid view into the dark world of football hooliganism, one of Britain's worst social problems. The story follows three generations of working-class English males obsessed with their football team, Chelsea, and with the drinking, drugs, violence, petty theft, and general "yob culture" that accompanies their identity as fans. A disturbing film that at times seems as much a celebration of football hooliganism as it is an exposé. Based on the bestselling 1996 novel by John King.

© Vertigo Films


Director: Ken Loach, 2004

Set in Glasgow, this is the story of a cross-cultural relationship between Qasim, an aspiring DJ of Pakistani descent, and Roisín, an Irish Catholic piano instructor. Pressured by his parents to accept an arranged marriage with his cousin Yasmin, Qasim must choose between his love for Roisín and his duty to comply with the traditional values of his family and Muslim community. Meanwhile, Roisín is denied employment at a Catholic school unless she ceases living with a man (Qasim) who is not her husband.

© Lions Gate


Director: Stephen Frears, 2013

Based upon the true story of Philomena Lee, who as an unwed mother was forced to give up her baby to a convent in Tipperary in 1951. Fifty years later she embarks on a journey to discover what happened to her child and is aided by Martin Sixsmith, a British investigative journalist. A controversial look into the coerced adoptions and forced labor of unwed mothers that was common practice in postwar Ireland. Based on the 2009 book by Sixsmith.

© Pathé


Director: Christopher Morris, 2010

This daring comedy tells the story of a hapless group of British jihadists with delusions of grandeur who attempt to transform their abstract dreams of glory and martyrdom into action. After an incomplete period of training in Pakistan, the young men return to Britain to carry out a suicide bombing during the London Marathon. An amazing film—on what is clearly a taboo subject—that manages to be tense, poignant, thought-provoking and very funny.

© Film4


Director: Ken loach, 2016

After having suffered a heart-attack, a 59-year-old widower and laid off carpenter befriends a single mother and her two children as they navigate through the impersonal, Kafkaesque job centre bureaucracy to receive their unemployment and support allowance. The film won the Palme d'Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival and was widely praised by film reviewers in Britain, but it was criticized by the Work and Pensions Department as an unfair portrayal of their agency and of the British welfare system more generally.

© Sixteen Films


Director: Alfonso Cuarón, 2006

By 2027, all women have become inexplicably infertile and it is only a matter of time before the human race dies out. In Britain, this existential crisis has led to a breakdown of civil society and the rise of a police state with immigration, factionalism, and violence spinning out of control. Based on the 1992 novel by P.D. James, Children of Men is similar to Orwell's 1984 and Burgess' A Clockwork Orange as a dystopian vision of Britain's future that is really a critique of the time in which it was written.

© Universal

Created by campion@lclark.edu | Updated February 2018