Social Realism The most 'typically British' of all film genres Better than any other genre, social realism has shown us to ourselves, pushing the boundaries in the effort to put the experiences of real Britons on the screen, and shaping our ideas of what British cinema can be. While our cinema has experienced all the fluctuations in fortune of Hollywood's first export territory, realism has been Britain's richest gift to the world.
Social Realism, also known as Socio- Realism, is an artistic movement, expressed in the visual and other realist arts, which depicts social and racial injustice, economic hardship, through unvarnished pictures of life's struggles; often depicting working class activities as heroic.artistic movementrealist artsworking class What are working class activities?
Social Realism conventions Realistic settings Realistic events and situations Believable filming technique Hard luck Working class heroes Economic hardship Lifes struggles Experiences of REAL Britons Gritty style Urban locations
Billy Elliot clip – how is this social realism? Featured Social Realism Films British Film Forever A Way Of Life All Or Nothing Billy Elliot Billy Liar Flame In The Streets Ratcatcher Sweet Sixteen The Boys The Plague The Stars Look Down The Whisperers This Sporting Life Twenty Four Seven
In Film Social Realism in cinema is a style that finds its roots in the Italian neorealism movement known for naturalistic, substance-over-style works of filmmakers such as Roberto Rossellini, Vittorio De Sica and, to some extent, Federico Fellini, but is considered Britain's main form of cinematic style. For Britons, their early cinema used common social interaction found in Dickens and Thomas Hardy. One of the first British films to emphasize realism's value as social protest was the 1902 film from U.K. director and Scottish born film pioneer James Williamson, A Reservist Before the War, and After the War which memorialized the Boer War serviceman coming back home to unemployment. Repressive censorship during 1945-1954 prevented British films from more radical social positions. Italian neorealism Roberto RosselliniVittorio De SicaFederico FelliniDickensThomas HardyU.K.James WilliamsonBoer War Social realism was also adopted by Hindi films of the 1940s and 1950s, including Chetan Anand's Neecha Nagar (1946) which won the Palme d'Or at the first Cannes Film Festival, and Bimal Roy's Two Acres of Land (1953) which won the International Prize at the 1954 Cannes Film Festival. This in turn gave rise to the Indian New Wave, with early Bengali art films such as Ritwik Ghatak's Nagarik (1952) and Satyajit Ray's The Apu Trilogy (1955-1959). Realism in Indian cinema dates back even earlier to the 1920s and 1930s, with early examples including V. Shantaram's films Indian Shylock (1925) and The Unexpected (1937).Hindi films Chetan AnandNeecha NagarPalme d'Orfirst Cannes Film FestivalBimal RoyTwo Acres of Land1954 Cannes Film FestivalIndian New WaveBengali art filmsRitwik GhatakNagarik Satyajit RayThe Apu TrilogyIndian cinemaV. Shantaram The United States was one of the last countries to adopt this form of style in cinema. Kine Weekly, marketed as an invaluable record of British film and television industries development,  in 1947 wrote, "Americans have shown [sic] they want pictures reflecting the simple emotions. We are trying to crash into their market by offering them gloom-sadism-and-soft-focus. We must aim at the box office and not the art gallery. It is no good aiming over their heads. It will not help us earn dollars. British Social Realism cinema has an objective distancing from what the characters think and feel, or a naturalism in its character spines.United States
This introduces a very important second dimension to the realism debate. What we judge to be realistic is not just an assessment of how a film or scene relates to what we know of in the real world. Realism always involves an aesthetic judgement about how this vision of the real has been produced and how it relates to, or is in dialogue with, other representations. Realism is always in some sense an innovation, a break or some modification in the audio-visual toolkit of representation. It always stands in some relationship (which also includes borrowing and adapting) with other traditions and specific films, inviting acts of comparison.
Realism in film requires a plausible range of character action and interaction within the specific circumstances depicted.