Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Watch this..

I used to ride to work through the run-down back streets behind Kings Cross station. Every morning I witnessed crowds of largely East European building workers gathered, waiting to be chosen to go out in fleets of beat up old vans dispatched to various sites around London. The area had been redeveloped and smartened up now but the same early morning ritual is doubtless happening somewhere else.

Ken Loach's new film 'It's A Free World', shown on Channel 4 last night, showed exactly the same scene, with work-gangs picked out from a hopeful crowd like teams in a kid's playground.

It's a grim tale about migrant workers in London, but it's also more than that. As the title suggests, it's about how the pursuit of free market economics has fucked up all aspects of society. Everyone has now become a unit of cheap labour to be brought and sold. In particular the female gang-master is trying so desperately to escape her own poverty and secure a better future for her son, that she is unaware of her spiraling descent in her inhumane treatment of the workers.

Alan Bennett wrote something about the impact that television had in the sixties, before the age of multi-channel cable. He recalled how at work, the whole nation would be talking about what they had seen the night before. In particular the enormous impact of 'Cathy Come Home' is always cited as highlighing the issue of homelessness.

If we can get past the inane shit of Ant&Dec's - I'm A Celebrity Chef Get Me Out Of - Hell's Kitchen - Come Dancing - X Factor Idol, it's maybe just possible that thirty years later the same director's latest offering could do the same for a new generation. It certainly should.

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