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Film / This Is England

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This Is England is a 2006 British drama film written and directed by Shane Meadows. The story centres on young skinheads in England in 1983. The film illustrates that skinhead subculture, whose 1960s roots include elements of black culture, especially ska, soul, and reggae music, became adopted by white nationalists, which led to divisions within the skinhead scene.

Three timeskipped Spin-Off miniseries were produced for Channel 4.

The film contains examples of:

  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Combo unexpectedly declares his love for Lol, giving her a present and telling her she was the only thing that got him through his three years in jail. He can barely get his words out at first, and begins to tremble uncontrollably when Lol coldly rejects him, barely holding back the tears.
  • Ax-Crazy: An externally subdued form in Combo, but the guy definitely has issues. Violent ones. He is violent enough to noticeably darken the film's tone when he's present.
  • Bald of Evil: Combo and Banjo, much older than the rest, fresh outta prison and armed with machetes.
  • Bathos: Combo, after screaming racial slurs at a Pakistani shopkeeper while swinging a machete, falls over on wet grass and then can't get into his car door, causing his gang to burst into laughter.
  • Berserk Button:
  • Big Brother Instinct: The skinheads are protective of Shaun and motivate him to socialize and have fun. When Pukey is thrown out of Combo's car for questioning his ideology, he tries to get Shaun to come with him out of obvious concern. A dark example happens at the end when Banjo prioritizes holding Shaun down while Milky is beaten by Combo so Shaun will not get hit himself.
  • Broken Pedestal: Combo goes from headstrong father figure to shattered nervous wreck in a matter of minutes, leaving Shaun wholly disillusioned with his life at that point.
  • Butt-Monkey: Gadget, who is relentlessly mocked for his weight problems.
  • Coming of Age Story: Shaun is a 12-year-old who does a lot of growing up through the course of the film.
  • Corruption of a Minor: Shaun is groomed by Combo from a disaffected and casually delinquent kid into a mini National Front member.
  • Crapsack World: Set in a depressed, shitty suburb of some nowhere city in outer England, amidst the Falklands War and crippling unemployment.
  • Delinquent Hair: The entire original skinhead gang, basically a bunch of disaffected bald teenagers out to have fun. It's notable that the teens all wear their hair cropped down to short stubble rather than razored down to the skin, as was the style at the time.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Through not really brought up in the film, Smell is attending the same school as Shaun: she appears as one of the students observing Shaun's fight with Harvey.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Combo and Banjo are introduced pulling a horrible prank on the rest of the gang. After the ruse is revealed, Combo goes on a racist, slur-laden rant that puts the other characters ill at ease.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Milky and Woody make an effort to cheer up Shaun after the latter was upset about bullied and are angry with Gadget and Pukey for getting angry at Shaun for sitting with them.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Combo is violent and prone to getting set off, particularly about racial issues and his own insecurities.
  • Good Parents: Shaun's mother surprises everyone by acknowledging that the skinheads have actually been a positive influence on Shaun and lets them continue socializing in spite of her trepidation.
  • Good-Times Montage: Louie, Louie...
  • Important Haircut: Obviously a necessity if you're joining a skinhead gang.
  • Ironic Nickname: Milky is black.
  • Mood Whiplash: The scene of Combo declaring his love for Lol and his subsequent freak-out is followed by a scene of Smell and Shaun's mum having a hilarious conversation about her nickname.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: After Combo lays the smackdown on Milky, Banjo, Meggy, and Shaun in a blind rage, he collapses into a heap and starts crying over Milky's senseless body.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Combo gets stoned with Milky and appears to bond with him, but subsequently undergoes a transformation when Milky begins talking about his amazing family life. Combo begins to verbally abuse him, which Milky reacts to with a wry smile. Combo blows his top and beats Milky to an unconscious pulp in a rather graphic and disturbing scene.
  • Nothing but Hits: Say what you like about skinheads, they had some damn fine taste in music.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Gadget, Lol, Woody, Milky, Combo, Banjo, Smell...
    Smell: I guess cause it sounds a bit like Michelle... but not really.
    • The actual names of the other characters are revealed in passing in both the film and the miniseries. Gadget is Gary, Lol is Lorraine, Woody is Richard, Milky is Michael, Combo is Andrew, and Meggy is short for Ronald Megford's surname.
  • Oop North: The setting is deliberately vague, but is implied to be somewhere around Yorkshire and the East Midlands. The movie was filmed in the suburbs of Nottingham and Grimsby, while the miniseries was filmed in Sheffield. Strong provincial accents abound. Most of Shane Meadows' work takes place in the Midlands.
  • Pet the Dog: Combo may be a violent racist, but he does have a sensitive side...
  • Rape as Drama: Combo remembers having sex with Lol as a beautiful experience. Lol remembers it as her being barely legal, pissed off her head, and definitely not in a position to consent. Naturally, she reacts to his attempts to make romantic advances with disgust and rejection.
  • Strawman Political: Averted — both Combo's and some of the National Front members' arguments for their beliefs are really made by nationalists, whether you take them or leave them.
  • Taking the Heat: Also a Noodle Incident — Combo went to prison for something Woody did in the past.
  • Team Power Walk: Done twice. The first time is very light-spirited, highlighting Shaun's acceptance into Woody's gang. The second time is much darker in tone, when Shaun joins Combo's gang of skinheads, who are much more violent and racist than Woody's.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Shaun is about 5 feet tall, while his older girlfriend, Smell, has about six inches on him.
  • Title Drop: During Combo's racist rant around the film's midway point, setting up the themes of the remainder of the film.
  • Token Black Friend: Milky is Woody's oldest and best friend, and the token black guy in the gang.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Combo is ultimately this to Shaun. Through Combo genuinely cares about Shaun, he is making him a worse person by transmitting his own far-right beliefs to him.


Video Example(s):


Shaun And Smell's First Kiss

Shaun and Smell have their first kiss.

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Main / FirstKiss

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