From Joe Falconer at the Picturehouse at FACT, Liverpool.
“I think it’s a very suitable moment to think about when we work together,” Ken Loach tells me, offering around another handful of popcorn as we sit in the upper offices at FACT.
The veteran film director is currently promoting his latest work THE SPIRIT OF ’45, a documentary detailing the work undertaken by the post-war Labour government in an attempt to begin rebuilding a country and economy still reeling from almost seven years of conflict.
The story is told through personal memories supported by substantial and fascinating archive footage. Loach manages to weave an intricate and thought-provoking narrative from the introduction of Clement Attlee’s socialist policies through to the mass privitisation of the Thatcher years.
It was essential for Loach to use the documentary format. “If you’re making a fiction film, people can always say you’re bending it to meet your own point of view,” he explains.“If you show the actual footage then that is there, that exists, it’s like evidence”.
The subject of the film is obviously close to Loach’s heart, addressing many of the themes that have threaded their way through his long tenure as one of Britain’s most celebrated directors.
This, he says, is a story that needs to be told. “It’s important because it was a time when people worked together, because they worked together during the war and won the war. The feeling was that if we can win the war together then we can do what’s necessary to have a successful peace time.”
As he talks passionately about the current political and economic climate throughout Europe, it’s clear he believes there are lessons to be learnt from the strong sense of community and solidarity prevalent at the end of the Second World War.
The current controversy surrounding the privatisation of the NHS means the timing of this film is particularly relevant. Loach wants the film to stir emotion about this issue: “I hope people come out of it with a sense of anger about what we allowed to slip, because the people that made the advances in ’45 thought they were making the changes for good. And in fact in 30 to 40 years it had all started to go.”
And what does Loach hope to achieve with the film? “One aim is for it to just be a resource for everyone who wants to revisit that period. Another aim is to ask questions about politics now. Where are we going and what can we learn from ’45? What did we get right and what did we get wrong?” Whatever your political outlook, THE SPIRIT OF ’45 offers a compelling insight into an often overlooked period in British History.
THE SPIRIT OF ’45 is out now, and screens at Picturehouse Cinemas across the country.