How did New Labour ideology affect British filmmaking during the ’90s and naughties?

Love Actually Is Getting a Sequel—but There's a Twist | Vanity Fair

The term ‘New Labour’ was first coined in 1994 by Tony Blair in a Labour Party Conference. It was aimed to “appeal to all social classes, but above all it tried to capture new, young, white-collar middle class voters from Thatcher.” (Goldsmith, 2020) They felt that after the period of Thatcherism as a society we were evolving and needed to adjust our policies to reflect this; New Labour had “come to terms with changes in society, and forged ideas and policies to our new times.” (Bevir, 2005)   As well as introducing monetary polices like ‘welfare to work’ and ‘minimum wage’ after their success in securing parliament in 1997, New Labour introduced new ways of monetising the UK’s creative industry to transform the cultural image of the UK.

This monetisation of the creative industry included the UK film industry and New Labour set a series of aims to help establish the film industry so it could be more beneficial for British filmmakers. The Government realised they had a role to play helping to create this self-sustaining film industry. So with the creation of the Film Policy Review Group in 1997 the aims for the industry were carefully set out to help grow the industry with one of the larger aims being “a financial framework that facilitates and encourages sustained investment in the British film industry.” (The Film Policy Review Group, 1998) This strategy saw almost immediate positive results in the film industry as 1997 saw its highest cinema attendance in almost 15 years and British films earned twice as much in the box office as they did the year before. However, unlike their transformation of the British film industry “New Labour’s foreign policy was more an adaptation to a changed international context than a genuine transformation.” (Daddow & Gaskarth, 2011) Which was mirrored by how the industry performed internationally, as instead of defining British film in the global film market, they instead chose to incentivise and support films that would have a greater international appeal or films that had already secured distribution deals.

This idea of a British produced film created to appeal for the international audience is extremely present in Richard Curtis’ 2003 romantic comedy Love Actually. The film is considered a Christmas classic in British cinema but has received criticism for being overly Americanised. “Curtis has frequently been taken to task for failing to represent the ethnic, social and regional varieties of contemporary Britain” (Leggott, 2012, p186) If we also consider how America is portrayed in the film we can observe the aforementioned argument that this film gained its $40 million budget due to its international appeal.

This scene where Colin travels to America is important as it as the inclusion of it in the film doesn’t advance the plot in anyway, it is merely there to acknowledge the American audience by showing America in a positive light in a predominantly British dominated film. This once again shows that despite its success, New Labour’s ideologies almost cornered some films into having to appeal to an international audience to gain financial support.

Word Count: 510

Bibliography:

Bevir, M. (2005). New Labour. Psychology Press. P

Daddow, O., & Gaskarth, J. (Eds.). (2011). British foreign policy: the New Labour years. Springer.

Film Policy Review Group. (1998) The Bigger Picture Retrieved fromhttps://bigpictureresearch.typepad.com/files/a-bigger-picture.pdf

Leggott, James (2012) “Travels in Curtisland: Richard Curtis and British Comedy Cinema” in Hunter, I. Q and Porter, Laraine (Eds.) British Comedy Cinema. London: Routledge pp184-195

tutor2u. (2020) New Labour Retrieved From  https://www.tutor2u.net/politics/reference/new-labour

Peer Assessment: https://up901217.weebly.com/

After reading all the blogs and after considering the marking scheme I decided this blog would probably be the highest graded. Each blog post is consistent in quality and they all give a clear cohesive and well-structured responses to the argument.  The blogs are extremely visually engaging and include stills and a few clips from the film which help support their argument too. I think if they used a few more video clips and analysed them closely it would help reinforce their argument. What I found to be most impressive about the blog however was how they showcased their ability to read around the subject and carefully choose academic sources which seamlessly supported their argument. You can also see that the author has taken on feedback throughout the year and has adjusted their tone to be less personal and more professional. In a few areas their referencing looks to be done incorrectly but for the most part their spelling, grammar and punctuation looks to be solid and the blog reads well.

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