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Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art
Production still from The Last of England 1988 / Director: Derek Jarman / Image courtesy: British Film Institute, Hollywood Classics
21 MARCH 2014
The social, economic and political life of the United Kingdom under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher provides a backdrop to a major survey of British cinema at the Australian Cinémathèque, Gallery of Modern in Brisbane.

Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) Director Chris Saines said 'The Last of England: Thatcherism and British Cinema', a free program, would screen April 4 to June 25.

'This curated program considers how British filmmakers responded to the social and political life of this era, its nostalgia for the past and the legacy of these films to the present,' Mr Saines said.

'From period dramas that explore ideas of nationhood to darker visions of the present in science fiction and the strong tradition of political cinema by film collectives and workshops, 'The Last of England' casts a broad net over a complex period that continues to reverberate internationally.'

José Da Silva, Senior Curator, Australian Cinémathèque said the program took its name and inspiration from artist, filmmaker and activist Derek Jarman and his acclaimed film and book The Last of England 1987.

'Jarman was the most innovative and daring filmmaker to emerge from this period of British cinema. To coincide with the twentieth anniversary of his death, the program opens with a complete retrospective of his feature films, notable for their radical and poetic treatment of history, aesthetics and sexuality, and is complemented by screenings of his Super-8 montage films and music videos for The Smiths, Marianne Faithful and Pet Shop Boys,' Mr Da Silva said.

'The program moves on through several thematic sections that unpack the consequences of 'Thatcherism' – a term popularised by the leading UK cultural theorist Stuart Hall who died in February 2014 – together describing a complicated political and social landscape.'

These sections include 'The Spirit of '45', which evokes life in Britain following post-war reforms to social services and immigration in films as diverse as Bruce Robinson's black comedy Withnail and I 1987 and Isaac Julien's race drama Young Soul Rebels 1991.

'The British are Coming' features Thatcher-era costume dramas that reflect on the renaissance of English culture, as well stories of individual achievement and a rebellion against social convention, including Hugh Hudson's Chariots of Fire 1981 and James Ivory's Room with a View 1985.

'Another Time, Another Place' considers a darker vision of life in the United Kingdom under totalitarian control imagined by science-fiction films including Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange 1971 and Terry Gilliam's Brazil 1985.

'Addressing the Nation' highlights the influential role of leading British broadcaster Channel 4 with some of its most celebrated productions, including Stephen Frears My Beautiful Laundrette 1985 and Danny Boyle's Trainspotting 1996.

'Eat the Rich' includes films that deal with subjects of greed and consumption, such as Peter Greenaway's The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover 1989, the rise of a free-market economy, as in Richard Eyre's The Ploughman's Lunch 1983, and the social realities of unemployment, in Ken Loach's Looks and Smiles 1891.

'For Queen and Country' brings together films exploring violence, nationalism and the military, with stories concerning the Northern Ireland freedom movement and fallout from the 1982 Falklands War with Argentina, including Steve McQueen's Hunger 2006 and Michael Samuels' The Falklands Play 2002.

'Collective Action' surveys the influential British Workshop movement from the late 1970s and 80s, profiling key collectives and workshops that contributed to the development of a strong political cinema.

All screenings in 'The Last of England' are free. Screenings take place Friday nights, Saturdays and Sunday afternoons. The Audi GOMA Bar is open for drinks and snacks from 5.30pm on Friday evenings.

For screening times and films notes see
Production still from The Last of England 1988 / Director: Derek Jarman / Image courtesy: British Film Institute, Hollywood Classics
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Australian Cinémathèque screenings are scheduled.)