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This is England – protagonists

This is England is a semi-biographical film by director Shaun Meadows. It follows the development of a boy who progresses from being an outsider and an introvert, to joining a neo-Nazi group. The movie, highlights how anger and exclusion can lead to a dark road of crime and hate. Moreover, the film shows the transformation of the British skinheads from a reggae nationalistic group, to a militarized neo-Nazi cult.

The movie is set in the early 1980s England, where the unemployment rates are very high, war is raging in Falklands and there is a detest of Pakistani immigrants. Shaun (Thomas Turgoose), is a 12 year old. He lives in Yorkshire and he is an only child. Shaun has lost his father in the war, older kids bully him at school and has no friends. Eventually, he meets a group of skinheads which adopts him in. Shaun is vulnerable and gets influenced easily. He changes his appearance, spends a lot of time with them and adopts their views.

Everything is wonderful for Shaun at first. The skinheads, who are good-hearted despite their reputation, love Shaun. They care for him and show him what it really is like to belong. Shaun even dates a much older girl from the group. Even though his mother, Cynthia (Jo Hartley) expresses her concerns, he ignores her worries and becomes even more obsessed with his new friends. However, everything changes with the arrival of Combo- a hard-core Nazi and member of the National Front who recently got out of prison.

As Combo (Stephen Graham) takes over the gang, he makes clear that he intends to use it for his own dark and illegal deeds. Once he makes his intentions clear, most of the members opt out. Shaun however stays and bonds with Combo. The result is that Shaun sees a role model on Combo. As Meadows has gone from something similar in his life, he understands the need for connection of a young boy. Shaun, who has lost his father and his mother is absent, sees Combo as his savior. This results into a transformation for him. He becomes hateful, commits acts of violence and slowly becomes a monster.

Combo-Stephen Graham

Moreover, there is a valuable message in the movie. A message that tells us how quite, vulnerable individuals, can turn into horrible people. These horrible people do horrible acts. Additionally, the movie portrays in a very effective way the methods that Nazi organizations use to recruit members. They present themselves as outcasts and introverts. They identify with their new members. We can see this in the movie when Combo takes Shaun to the National Front meeting.

This is England is a film about the early 1980s, however it can be relevant to this day. The instructive way in which groups like The National Front use in the film, are the ways these organizations act to our days. The main message that Meadows is trying to convey is the dangers that similar cults pose to society, especially to the young people. Also, most of the times, we find ourselves too deep in a situation and it becomes impossible to escape when we realize our wrongdoing. The movie conveys this in the most brutal way in the end, but no spoilers. What’s important is that it highlights the dangers of the horrible racist rhetoric and the disturbing truth of the far right.

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