The Spirit Of ’45
UK, 2013, 98 min.
The film links past and present and invites the young generation to reflect upon their own ideals by looking at the dreams that inspired the post-war period.
Socialism is nowadays a term too often associated with the opposite of democracy. But after the war, socialism meant something else. It meant dismantling a pre-war economic system ran by the rich in favor of the rich. The new government secured housing for the poor, established a free universal health care system and nationalized some of the key industries.
The film is a mix of archive footage and recent testimonies. The images are black and white and often it is difficult to distinguish whether the people filmed are part of the archive footage or not. Maybe the blur between past and present is intentional but that is nevertheless confusing.
Beginning with the generous ideas of the post-war era that brought in the welfare state in the United Kingdom, and moving on through the Thatcher period and its liberalization, the film points at how a society governed by the market logic disadvantages the majority of the people.
The storyline punctually follows historical moments and the most important decisions taken in each period. The interviewees in the film are common people, doctors, nurses and trade unionist who witnessed the pre-war period as children and lived most of their lives in the post-war period followed by the Thatcher government. Contrasted with their personal testimonies, the archive footage that backs their stories feels impersonal at times.