This Is England

This Is England is a 2006 film written and directed by Shane Meadows, director of other films such as Dead Man's Shoes and A Room for Romeo Brass, and starring Thomas Turgoose. The film is a drama centred on young skinheads, set in England in July 1983.


The film was shown at various international film festivals, including London, and special permission was granted to Meniscus for it to be shown at Grimsby's Whitgift Film Theatre. The film was given an 18 certificate by the BBFC due to its racist language and incidence of violence. However, some councils such as Bristol, Camden and Westminster have chosen to overturn this, feeling the film should more widely reach its target audience of teenagers.

Thomas Turgoose, who was 13 at the time of filming, took the leading role and has appeared on TV and radio shows such as Soccer A.M., South Bank Show and GMTV, and has been interviewed by Edith Bowman on her BBC Radio One slot. Turgoose had never acted before, had been banned from his school play for bad behaviour, and demanded £5 to turn up for the film's auditions. The film was dedicated to Turgoose's mother, Sharon, who died of cancer on 29 December 2005; she never got to see the film, although she saw a short preview.

Critical reception

The film received very positive reviews from critics. As of 5 January 2008, the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 93% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 82 reviews. Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 86 out of 100, based on 23 reviews — indicating "universal acclaim". The film appeared on several critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2007.

The film won the Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film at the 2007 British Academy Film Awards. It also won the Best Film category at the 2006 British Independent Film Awards, with Thomas Turgoose winning the Most Promising Newcomer award.

Themes and plot

Primarily a semi-autobiographical coming-of age story, the movie has been perceived as criticizing racism and the National Front (NF). The film illustrates the fact that the skinhead subculture, whose roots are associated with Jamaican culture (especially ska, rocksteady and reggae music), eventually became adopted by white nationalist groups such as the NF. The movie is a view of 1980s England, featuring ramifications of the Falklands War and the rise of white nationalism.

The film begins in July 1983, with 12-year-old Shaun (Thomas Turgoose) getting in a fight at school after someone makes a bad joke about his father who died in the Falklands War. On his way home, in an unhappy mood, Shaun runs into a group of skinheads led by Woody, who feels sympathy for Shaun. The group eventually accepts Shaun as a member, and he develops a romance with Smell (Rosamund Hanson), an older girl who dresses in a punk/new wave style (similar to Boy George).

Combo (Stephen Graham), an older skinhead, returns to the group after serving a three and a half-year prison sentence. He attempts to enforce his leadership on the group and promote his white nationalist views. Combo causes the group to split in two, and Shaun decides to stay in Combo's group instead of leaving with the non-political skinheads led by Woody. One night, after Combo smokes marijuana that he bought from Milky (the only black skinhead from Woody's group), Combo snaps and beats Milky unconcious during an argument. The reason for this seems to be Combo's jealousy over Milky's strong family bonds - as opposed to Combo's background from a broken home. Almost killing Milky (we never learn how badly hurt Milky is), Combo shows panic (and, to some extent, remorse), and begs Shaun to help him get Milky to the hospital. The incident leads Shaun to sever his ties with Combo and the NF. The final scene shows Shaun throwing his St George's Cross flag in the sea.


Much of the film was shot in predominantly residential areas of Nottingham, including St Ann's, Lenton and The Meadows, with one section featuring abandoned houses at the former airbase RAF Newton, just outside of Bingham, Nottinghamshire. The opening fight sequence was filmed at Wilsthorpe Business and Enterprise College, a secondary school in Derbyshire. Additional scenes were filmed in Grimsby, Turgoose's home town.



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