Alicia Middleton BA Film Studies A Close-Up on British Cinema
Representations of identity and realism in The World’s End (Dir. Wright, 2013)
The World’s End (Dir. Wright, 2013) is a British Science Fiction film which is centred around Gary King (Simon Pegg) as he and his old school friends take on the famous pub crawl ‘The Golden Mile’ in their old town ‘Newton Haven’, which they first attempted twenty years before. Their goal is to reach the final pub ‘The World’s End’. As for most Edgar Wright films, there is a twist in the narrative, in which they discover the town has been overtaken by alien-controlled robots.
The film is similar to the other films directed by Edgar Wright and starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as it uses British humour and sarcasm to make light of working-class Britain. The film is stereotypically British, not only because of its sarcastic and raw humour, but also due to its realist themes. British realist films are significantly different to American films, especially those of Hollywood, where the humour can be more of a slapstick style. Whilst some Hollywood films can be regarded as realistic because of setting and characterisation, they are not necessarily realist texts. For a film to be considered realist it must intend to capture an experience as it unfolds and to have a “specific argument or message to deliver about the social world and [employ] realist conventions” (Lay, 2002, p.7). British realist films are usually set in a familiar location and include figures which audiences can identify in real life.
Newton Haven itself is a stereotypical town which has been ruined by capitalism. The issue of class divide is apparent in most British Science Fiction films and is captured in The World’s End. The film was released at the time David Cameron was the British Prime Minister, which is significant in relation to the messages the narrative is conveying. The first reason for this is the way the occupants in the town act the same. When Gary and his childhood friends travel to and from the pubs, Gary is confused that nobody recognises him, because of the rebellious ways he acted in his youth. Without referring to the later events of the narrative, the people of the town act the same because they are under a capitalist government, and the film is portraying political satire. This is because Newton Haven can be viewed as a middle-class conservative supporting town. The town’s occupants are locked into a small-town mindset where they follow the town rules and live a lifestyle of conformity.
The second reason why the town is perceived this way is because of its corporate ideologies. The first example being the town name itself. ‘Newton Haven’ implies that the town is a new version of what it once was, and that it has been altered in a way to improve itself. The town’s aesthetic has also changed since the group was last together. The first example of this is the chain restaurants and shops, which...