Film review: The Spirit of '45 (U)


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The Independent Culture

The best part of Ken Loach's documentary on the social revolution born of the 1945 landslide election is the contemporary footage, of Britain in recovery from the ravages of war and making tentative steps towards a dream of equality.

There's a hero, too, in the form of Aneurin Bevan, the Labour minister who spearheaded the establishment of the country's National Health Service – with good reason he's recalled as a "visionary".

Loach interviews some salt-of-the-earth pensioners whose impoverished lives – down Welsh mines, on Liverpool docks – were transformed by this ordinary miracle. Sadly, he won't leave it at that, and turns his fire on what scuppered the good work of nationalisation and the unions: in a word, Thatcher.

His view of societal strife is laughably simplistic: "capitalists" are all top-hatted, flint-hearted hunting types who'd sooner flog their employees than grant them a fair week's wage.

The irony is that Loach's misty-eyed view of socialism wouldn't even be recognised by today's Labour Party. But politics isn't the problem here; it's dull and hectoring cinema.