Plot: a working class male wakes up in the street, surrounded by cans of lager. He receives ‘final notice’ letters; and is soon to be evicted as he’s failing to pay the bills. The character has an obsession with upper middle class houses – sticking pictures from newspapers on his walls. In a drunken state he stumbles across his dream house and dreams about breaking in, living in the house as a middle-class man, before making the right decision and walking away.
The representation of actuality has been prevalent from the early days of film; with the first moving image produced by the ‘fathers’ of film – the Lumiere Brothers, using a static shot of workers leaving the factory; though the genre of realism was not truly recognised in Britain until 1902 with James Williamson’s: ‘A Reservist before the War, and After the War.’
Social realism became significant during the British New Wave (1959-63) showing a ‘real’ representation of the working class during that particular period of time.
Many British working class social realism films use the characters and narrative to show the higher classes negatively, for example a quote from Stevie in Riff Raff:
Susan:Do you ever get depressed?
Steve: No, depressions are for the middle classes, the rest of us have got an early start in the morning.
Instead of my character despising the middle class and political system – he strives for what they have, he is longing to live that lifestyle and is tired of the working class way of life, but – like many characters in working class films, he has no drive to go out and change things in a productive manner. The character appears trappe, juxtaposing the establishing shots of the sky, tracking birds flying to signify freedom and possibilities.
There is no mention of whether the character has a job, though due to his financial position and lifestyle we doubt that he’s employed or has a substantial income. My film is intertextual with the work of Ken Loach; for example in ‘Riff Raff’ (1991), I noticed that despite fighting for what they love, the characters were no further in achieving their goals at the end of the film than they were in the beginning – Stevie hoping to sell boxer shorts, and Susan wanting a career in music. My character also makes no advance in his employment or financial status.
He seems highly stereotypical, from object codes such as cigarettes, cheap pot noodles, cans of lager – conventional settings, such as the pub, and his dress code. A point of view shot from an inanimate object shows the character stick a picture on the wall, an extreme close up is used, focusing on this picture, which slowly zooms out to convey a wall full of pictures – signifying a manic obsession, and questioning the mental state of the character, possibly spiralling down due to the fact that he does not have much to focus on in life.
The codes and conventions are typical of social realism films; dull lighting is used in many scenes, reflecting the sullen ambience and state of mind of the character. A documentary, cinema verite style is used to signify the fact this is based on real life situations, common of social realism films. The non-diegetic sound consists mainly of one long piano piece, the music is soft, fitting well with the emotions reflected and giving an almost relaxing feel.
The film includes Barthes Hermeneutic code; it leads the viewer to believe one thing by not telling the audience the facts to cause a bigger shock from the denouement. The film follows Todorov’s theory of narrative, including an equilibrium shown at the beginning, a disruption – final notice letter, recognition – the character see’s the letter and reacts negatively, repair – the act of breaking into a new house, and the new equilibrium – though his problem is not fixed, he knows that he is not a criminal and does not commit a crime, giving a new outlook onto his life.