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Real to ReelA New Approach to Understanding Realism in Film and TV Fiction$
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Martin Sohn-Rethel

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780993071768

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9780993071768.001.0001

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Social (or Documentary) Realism in Feature Film

Social (or Documentary) Realism in Feature Film

(p.45) 2: Social (or Documentary) Realism in Feature Film
Real to Reel

Martin Sohn-Rethel

Liverpool University Press

This chapter examines social (or documentary) realism in feature film. It focuses on three of Ken Loach's films: Ladybird Ladybird (1994), made before his collaboration with screenwriter, Paul Laverty, and two after: Sweet Sixteen (2002) and It's a Free World... (2006). The reality uncovered in Ladybird Ladybird is arguably not strictly political in a primary, economically driven sense. It is based on the true story of Maggie (Crissy Rock) whose children are taken away by social services. The 'truth' premise that is a given in such an uncompromising work of social realism made for a stark confrontation: on one side, Loach protesting the truth of his depiction; on the other, social services crying foul on behalf of every beleaguered social worker in the country. It might be argued that the resulting standoff over who had truth on their side was not all that productive in improving social services in Britain. Meanwhile, Loach's Sweet Sixteen is a classic example of his later documentary-drama approach. It's a Free World... works to a very similar template as Sweet Sixteen. The chapter then considers realism in Paul Greengrass's drama-documentary Bloody Sunday (2002) and Jim Sheridan's In The Name Of The Father (1993).

Keywords:   social realism, documentary realism, feature film, Ken Loach, political film, truth, documentary drama, Ladybird Ladybird, Sweet Sixteen, It's a Free World

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