Walking into the cinema with Jerusalem playing, seats filling up around me for the sell out performance of Ken Loach’s The Spirit of ’45, I have to admit I was uncertain as to what I should expect from this documentary and Q&A session. But I was pleasantly surprised by this inspirational and interesting documentary. The film manages all at once to be both uplifting and upsetting, and historical and personal. Through archive footage and personal recollections, Loach provides a broad view of the welfare changes which occurred in 1945, and moves right up to the situation we face today: of privatised systems such as water and gas, and the concern at the privatisation of the NHS. He raises poignant questions, and these were consequently addressed and discussed in the post-screening Q&A session, broadcast live from London.
In the Q&A, Loach himself said that The Spirit of ’45 is not a film of nostalgia, nor a fond look back at a better time, but a statement about society, and a call for an awakening and a change in the mindset of the people. I firmly agree with him. This film shows the audience the spirit of what was by no means a perfect system in 1945, but a system that was fueled by critical changes in the consciousness of the people after the end of WWII. Watching the Q&A I realised that this is a message that is reverberating through our country at the moment, and that message calls for change.
More than anything else, this is an experience that is ageless. Sat around me were people of all ages, all of whom were appreciating the statement that Loach wanted to make. This is a must see – both as a film experience for the use of archived footage, but also for the inspirational message that this film raises and enforces. It is Ken Loach’s hope, and now mine too, that this film will receive a wide and varied viewing by audiences all over the country, since it is films like this that will spark change for the better.