Who Killed British Cinema? (2016) Dir. Robin Dutta & Vinod Mahindru
Midlands Movies – Review – Who Killed British Cinema?
‘So much leg work, so many miles, so little progress’ echoes a title card in this documentary about the ‘death’ of the British Film Industry. This informative film charts the rise and more importantly the fall of cinema in Britain. First time directors Robin Dutta and Vinod Mahindru successfully delve into the complicated world of the British film industry, managing to cover a wide canvas of points voiced by the likes of Ben Kingsley, Stephen Frears and CEO of the now defunct UK film council John Woodward. It is these moments with these veterans of the industry that elevate this documentary from a cheap report on the politics behind the films to a surprisingly shocking expose on how corrupt the system was.
With the abolishment of the UK film council in 2011 obvious questions began to rise from its ashes. Why has this happened? Who made this decision? How did it get this bad? But more importantly, what happens next? Directors Dutta and Mahindru entice you with the question ‘Who killed British Cinema?’ only to reveal that many interviewed in the film believe that the British Film Industry died in the early 70s and has never recovered since. The successful working class films of the 60’s coupled with the hippy movement scared the government and the powerful elite into acting to prevent the establishment being spoiled. Stars like Michael Caine and Albert Finney were heroes through their working class films like Get Carter and Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, films which spoke to a generation wanting to quit work and live tax free in the countryside.
Dutta and Mahindru highlight the fact that Britain has been home to the productions of Superman, Alien, Star Wars and other Hollywood blockbusters yet the industry has never been poorer. British films rarely have lasting stay in the multiplexes, with many smaller cities and towns not showing half of the country’s releases. The Full Monty being an example of a British box office smash hit commercially and critically, yet the producers and investors being American meant hardly any money went back into Britain. A sad state of affairs.
Whilst the many interviews recorded for this film are diverse and informative, the film lacks the real punch it deserves with an absent counter argument as the British Film Institute and the various Screen Agencies across Britain refused to take part with the making of the film. Had they accepted the offer to be interviewed the documentary could have held its 1 hour 40-minute run time, instead the middle act is let to linger on a little long.
Whilst ‘Who Killed British Cinema’ offers very little positivity for the future of the country’s film industry and its respective filmmakers, Dutta and Mahindru present advice given from directors such as Alan Parker, Stephen Frears and actor Ben Kingsley such as ‘don’t be discouraged’ and saying how success will taste sweeter if one makes a success out of this decaying national industry.
‘Who Killed British Cinema’ is an absolute must for film fans.