This book explores the interactions of comedy and drama within a group of significant and influential films released during the decade of the 1990s. It examines a group of British films from this period which engage with economic and social issues in unusual and compelling ways. Brassed Off and The Full Monty are two films invoking very different cultural traditions as possible activities for unemployed males and troubled communities in modern British society. The book then discusses a number of contemporary British films focusing upon the experiences of British-Asian and African-Caribbean characters and their efforts to feel 'at home' in Western and British society. It features an extensive analysis of East is East, a comedy-drama about the cultural and ideological tensions surfacing between members of a British-Asian family living in Salford, circa 1971. Next, the book includes case studies of Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, and Love Actually. It investigates the ways in which humour is deployed for dramatic and emotional effect in the context of scenarios dealing with such seemingly non-comic subjects as mass unemployment, failed or uneasy relationships, bitter family disputes, or instances of racial tension and conflict in British society. The book demonstrates that the interaction of comic and dramatic modes of narration within the films discussed proved to be a dynamic creative mechanism in 1990s British cinema, facilitating and enabling the construction of innovative and genuinely exploratory narratives about characters who are striving to realise particular aspirations and hopes within a complex culture.
‘Tears of laughter': comedy-drama in 1990s British cinema
. The chapter concludes with
case studies of Brassed Off (Mark Herman, 1996) and The Full
Monty (Peter Cattaneo, 1997), two films invoking very different cultural
traditions as possible activities for unemployed males and troubled
communities in modern British society.
Chapter 2 discusses a number of
contemporary British films focusing upon the experiences of British-Asian
African-Caribbeancharacters as a way of scaring away a group of tenacious, white, sitting tenants. When Fiji seizes control of the mysterious negative power that has been bestowed on him by white panic, he is both subverting and ironically confirming the racist narrative that has been used against him. Yet his situation is not improved by this reclamation of agency; the men are still homeless at the end of the story, and Selvon leaves hanging the question of who, in the end, has really been cursed in the course of this uncanny transaction.
dreams and aspirations may lead to a
succession of disputes which become sour and petty, and one would have to
acknowledge that several of the 1990s films discussed do contain characters
who dream of escaping from Britain to America or Pakistan in search of a
more fulfilling and authentic existence.
If films such as Bhaji on the Beach and East is East
are prepared to depict British-Asian or African-Caribbeancharacters in an