The Spirit of '45

Synopsis: A documentary on how the spirit of unity, which buoyed Britain during the war years, carried through to create a vision of a fairer, united society.
Director(s): Ken Loach
Production: Film4
  2 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
94 min


This is a tremendous moment.

The war is over.

I cry a little.

I think of my dearest friends,

of those men fighting

in the services I've known.

Piccadilly was already

a seething mass of people.

The hoarding around Eros

was crowded with young people,

mainly from the Forces.

People were everywhere.

On shop fronts, up lamp standards,

singing and shouting.

I can remember my father taking me

to school one day.

There was a house absolutely flat

on the floor

and a woman standing outside and saying,

"I only washed my windows yesterday."

The nurses' home was hit in 1940.

Then again in 1941,

the whole hospital was hit

and it was completely destroyed.

The main surgeon, Mr Grey, he was killed

and quite a few

of the doctors and nurses.

And two wards of maternity

with about 50 babies and mothers

and other casualties as well.

I always... Every 3rd of May,

I could go over it again.

# When we go strolling

in the park at night #

# All the darkness is a boon #

# Who cam if we're without a light #

# They can't black out the moon #

# I see you smiling

in the cigarette glow #

# Though the picture fades too soon #

# But I see all... #

# Kiss me once

Then kiss me twice #

# Then kiss me once again #

# It's been a long, long time #

# Haven't felt like this, my dear #

# Since can't remember when #

# It's been along... #

Underlying our joy and thankfulness,

there is one uneasy question.

What about the future?

What will happen now'?

Will we, the people

who have won the war,

drive home our victory against fascism

By defeating our pre-war enemies

of poverty and unemployment?

I think the expectation was,

'We are not going back

to the Britain of the 1930s."

'We're..." It was "never again".

It wasn't only "never again" about war.

It was "never again"

about that kind of peace

where everything was run by rich people

for rich people.

The mood among

the people that I was with

was that basically it was them and us.

The officers were

on one side of the barrier

and we were

on the other side of the barrier.

People were all very much afraid

that what happened

after the First World War

would happen after the second, which was

enormous poverty and adversity.

I mean, I worked with people in the last

war who, basically between the wars,

had gone long periods

without any jobs at all.

I don't think people were greedy

for a lot of things those days.

They just wanted to live peaceful,

have a job,

have children and have a home life.

I think just everybody wanted a good

home life with their families, you know.

I was born 87 years ago

in the slums of Liverpool

off Great Homer Street,

a street called Mellor Street.

I was one of eight children.

And we slept five in a bed.

In my bed there was three lads

and two girls.

We got into bed of a night

with a bed full of vermin.

When I say full of vermin,

I mean the bugs.

The fleas were in hundreds in the beds.

And we got in the beds.

There was nothing we could do about it

because they were in the building,

behind the wallpaper,

in the skirting boards.

And we just got in that bed

and lived with them.

And next morning

when we went to school,

we would have the cane

for having dirty knees.

Every Monday morning,

we were meant to take the bundles

up to the pawn shops,

which were in the city area.

And I'd get on the trams

and the tram conductor would say,

"Dalgleish is the next stop."

"Browns. I'll be at Browns

giving a good price today, ladies."

And when it got to the terminus,

he'd say, "All away, Poverty Park

And it really was a poverty park.

The '30s for me, I can remember

quite vividly, was no shoes on my feet.

Having spoonfuls of malt,

this horrible malt,

when we went into school

to try and stop the rickets.

And coming home from school

and you could smell some food

coming from somewhere.

Then all we used to have was a bowl

of com flakes or something like that.

Coming home in the evening,

you'd probably have a big, big plate

full of swedes and potatoes

with no meat.

They didn't have a carpet on the floor.

And when we used to visit,

they'd scrubbed the floorboards.

And if they'd just scrubbed

the floorboards,

they actually literally had

paper down on the floor.

My grandfather's suit had to go

into the pawn shop on the Monday,

in order that they had

some money not only to live,

but also for the youngest son,

vino had a kidney complaint,

to pay for his doctor's fees.

Then they'd get it out again

when he got his money on a Friday,

so that he could wear his suit

to go to the pub.

Bread and jam

was the usual thing they had.

They talk about bread and dripping.

You had to have beef to make dripping,

so the chances of having dripping

were remote.

It was more often than not

bread and jam.

In our house there was

three children died

between the ages of...

...two and four.

Two died at the same time.

And I can recall

putting two coffins across our knees

in a one-horse coach...

...and the one-horse coach

taking us to the cemetery.

And as I recall,

them two coffins went on top

of other coffins at the cemetery.

The other thing

I can remember about the '30s

was the long periods

when, because of the militancy,

they closed the pit down altogether

and we had to go

picking coal off the tips.

My grandfather and my father,

when they heard the steam engine,

the steam train passing, they would

come out to the back of the house

to count the number of trucks

that were going up to the colliery

because with that knowledge

they would know then

whether they had work for a day or two

or for the week.

They used to call it the umbrella pit

because it was

constantly opening and closing.

My father took me

down to see the dole queue in Liverpool

and then he walked me

the full length of it.

Then he walked me back

so I could see all their faces.

And he said, "Now, remember that."

"Remember that and don't let it happen

in your day."

And I was ten.

We went to all the meetings

in those days.

They were mostly out in parks

or street corners.

And I got quite used to it,

so I was really pretty well educated

as regards politics.

What really matters

is who controls industry

and the result of industry.

Hear, hear.

This rubbish about

the banking system is the greatest.

Hear, hear.

You don't make money,

you don't make wealth

by passing bits of paper to one another.

Close up the ranks. Fall in.

Join the great army

of the children of the night

marching to the conquest of the future.

Marching to build Jerusalem

in England's green and pleasant land.


I was 25 years of age...

...when I read my first book,

The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists.

It just completely changed my life.

I couldn't sleep after reading

The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists.

I just thought, what fools everyone are.

How we've all been taken in

and we're still being taken in.

We're just sucked into a false life

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Ken Loach

Kenneth Charles Loach (born 17 June 1936) is an English director of television and independent film. His socially critical directing style and socialist ideals are evident in his film treatment of social issues such as poverty (Poor Cow, 1967), homelessness (Cathy Come Home, 1966) and labour rights (Riff-Raff, 1991, and The Navigators, 2001). Loach's film Kes (1969) was voted the seventh greatest British film of the 20th century in a poll by the British Film Institute. Two of his films, The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006) and I, Daniel Blake (2016) received the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, making him the ninth filmmaker to win the award twice.Loach, a social campaigner for most of his career, believes the current criteria for claiming benefits in the UK are "a Kafka-esque, Catch 22 situation designed to frustrate and humiliate the claimant to such an extent that they drop out of the system and stop pursuing their right to ask for support if necessary". more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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