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THIS IS ENGLAND – Ludovico Einaudi

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A gritty, challenging film from the critically acclaimed British filmmaker Shane Meadows, This Is England examines the skinhead subculture which permeated much of English society in the early 1980s from the point of view of a 12-year old boy named Shaun, whose adoption into a mischievous, but misunderstood skinhead gang in the northern English city of Nottingham provides the him with a new family who understands him better than his one at home does. Featuring, as usual, a cast of unknown amateur actors, Meadows’ film is a reflection on one of the most turbulent periods in recent British history, whose political and social outlook was shaped by events like the Falklands War, the rise to power of Margaret Thatcher, and the influence of the punk movement on the music scene.

The original score for the film was written by the popular Italian classical composer Ludovico Einaudi. His four cues – “Ritornare”, “Fuori Dal Mondo”, “Oltremare” and “Dietro Casa” – actually run for just over 22 minutes, giving a fairly decent representation of his contribution. The music is dominated by a solo violin and an expressive solo piano, and adopts a generally melancholy tone throughout that is occasionally reminiscent of the work of Michael Nyman.

Although each of the four are virtually identical in style, some of the individual melodic passages are quite lovely in an understated way, and offer a telling reflection of the general mood of the country at the time, and of young Shaun’s dreary life. Einaudi’s own piano performances are sensitive and delicately rendered, occasionally rhapsodic, and always attractive, while the string accompaniment provides a beautifully nuanced counterpoint that is easy to recommend.

The rest of the soundtrack is made up of cuts by some of major skinhead, ska, reggae and punk artists of the day; notably the irrepressibly infectious “Come On Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners, the confrontational “Do the Dog” by the groundbreaking two-tone band The Specials, the popular goth-tinted “Since Yesterday” from Strawberry Switchblade, and several songs from Toots and the Maytals, one of the best known and most influential Jamaican reggae vocal groups.

All in all, this is a very enjoyable package, and even the dialogue tracks are funny, although they are likely to be unintelligible to anyone who didn’t grow up in northern England. “Hello, I’m Harvey, and I’ve come to give you gyp…”

Rating: ***½

Track Listing:

  • 54-46 Was My Number (performed by Toots and the Maytals) (3:13)
  • Come On Eileen (performed by Dexys Midnight Runners) (4:02)
  • Tainted Love (performed by Soft Cell) (2:42)
  • Underpass/Flares (dialogue) (1:09)
  • Nicole (performed by Gravenhurst) (5:14)
  • Cynth/Dad (dialogue) (0:59)
  • Morning Sun (performed by Al Murray and the Cimarons) (2:57)
  • Shoe Shop (dialogue) (1:43)
  • Louie Louie (performed by Toots and the Maytals) (5:46)
  • Pressure Drop (performed by Toots and the Maytals) (2:54)
  • Hair in Cafe (dialogue) (1:01)
  • Do the Dog (performed by The Specials) (2:09)
  • Ritornare (8:48)
  • This Is England (dialogue) (1:25)
  • Return of Django (performed by The Upsetters) (2:31)
  • Warhead (performed by UK Subs) (3:04)
  • Fuori Dal Mondo (4:58)
  • Since Yesterday (performed by Strawberry Switchblade) (2:55)
  • Tits (dialogue) (1:33)
  • The Dark End of the Street (performed by Percy Sledge) (2:45)
  • Oltremare (5:04)
  • Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want (performed by Clayhill) (3:43)
  • Dietro Casa (3:49)
  • Never Seen The Sea (performed by Gavin Clark) (3:18)

Running Time: 67 minutes 53 seconds

Universal Music 9848363 (2007)

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