Three of the Best British Political Films

Written by
  • font size decrease font size increase font size
  • Print
  • Email

The best political films are those that hit close to home while delivering an engrossing narrative through fully-formed characters. There is so much room for experimentation within the genre - although, in most cases, if the film veers too far into surreal territory, it loses much of its political significance. There are many British filmmakers who have taken inspiration from domestic politicians to create powerful pieces of cinema, and we've chosen three of the very best today.

No Love for Johnnie (1961)

This drama is based on a book of the same name written by Labour MP Wilfred Fienburgh. Although that book, and the subsequent film, are a work of fiction, the plot is gritty and relatable. The film follows the titular Johnnie as he deals with his discontent at being a leftist Labour MP in a government that has clipped his ideological wings. Johnnie is played by a captivating Peter Finch, who went on to win a BAFTA for his performance. Finch would become the first actor to win a posthumous Oscar for his performance in Network.

In the Loop (2009)

The presidency of Donald Trump will likely reshape portrayals of leading politicians in movies over the coming years. Many thought Trump could never last four years, yet now Paddy Power's political betting markets suggest that punters are anticipating the President to complete his term without impeachment, with impeachment odds placed at 13/10 as of October 2018. Much of his erratic behaviour would have previously been considered fanciful in a screenplay, but now such an unlikely set of circumstances almost feels like it could be directly lifted from the work of Armando Iannucci. Creator of the satirical television series The Thick Of It and the spin-off movie In the Loop, Iannucci married dark comedy with political commentary. Peter Capaldi's foul-mouthed Malcolm Tucker remains one of the great comic creations of the 21st century. In the Loop takes the television characters on a feature-length outing that satirises the relationship between the UK and the USA during the time of the Iraq invasion. The timing of its release perhaps weakened its impact at the time, with Barack Obama in the first year of his presidency generally inspiring optimism that was at odds with In the Loop's cynicism. That cynicism feels far more prescient today.

Source: The Thick of It via Facebook.

The Ghost Writer (2010)

This film draws inspiration from a politician in a way that future films may evoke feelings of Trump. Pierce Brosnan's former Prime Minister Adam Lang is clearly influenced by Tony Blair, although it is not a flattering homage. Ewan McGregor's ghostwriter is tasked with writing memoirs based on Lang's life, but is plunged deep into conspiracy and danger when he does so.

The film is shrouded in darkness throughout, with its intentionally gloomy cinematography and unsettling plot. Brosnan's Lang shifts effortlessly from smarmy to sinister in one of the actor's most compelling performances. All political films draw direct inspiration from real-life events; it would be both foolish and difficult not to. The ever-changing political landscape means that directors and writers will always find new ways to translate events into cinema. It will be interesting to see what cinematic offerings arise as a result of the current political climate.

Those are our three top picks for British political films. What are yours? Let us know what you think.

Top Image - Source: THE GHOST WRITER via Facebook

Read 2222 times Last modified on Monday, 15 July 2019 15:19
Rate this item
(1 Vote)

About Us

ZANI was conceived in late 2008 and the fan base gradually grew by word of mouth. Key contributors came from those of the music, film and fashion industry and the voice of ZANI grew louder. So, when in 2013 investor, contributor and fan of ZANI Alan McGee* offered his support to help restyle and relaunch the site it was inevitable that traffic would increase dramatically and continues to grow. *Alan McGee co-founder of Creation Records and new label 359 Music..


What We Do

ZANI is an independent online magazine for readers interested in contemporary culture, covering Music, Film & TV, Sport, Art amongst other cultural topics. Relevant to modern times ZANI is a dynamic website and a flagship for creative movement and thinking wherever our readers live in the world.