Michael Winterbottom is the most prolific and the most audacious of British filmmakers in the last twenty years. His television career began in the cutting-rooms at Thames Television, and his first directing experience was on the Thames TV documentaries, Ingmar Bergman: The Magic Lantern and Ingmar Bergman: The Director, made in 1988. Winterbottom has featured in top ten lists in Britain and his name has become a moniker of distinction in the promotion of his own films. This book articulates the ideas which have led to the name 'Michael Winterbottom' being associated with a particular body of work and, second, by turning to those factors which tend to dissipate the idea of Winterbottom as the single source of a world view and style, and to relocate his films within a constellation of directors, films and (principally European) national cinemas. It is important to acknowledge that all of his films employ realism across a variety of styles, genres and historical representations. The book focuses on Welcome to Sarajevo, Wonderland, In This World and The Road to Guantánamo, with a brief reference to 24 Hour Party People as five very different films that have particular relationships with the historical world that they represent. It considers what Winterbottom has done with such popular genres as the road movie, the musical and the sciencefiction thriller, how far he has adapted their conventions to contemporary film practice and ideology, and whether these films, in reworking Hollywood genres, exhibit any peculiarly British inflections.
lack of venturesomeness. He would
surely have respected what these two young men, whose early careers he
fostered, have achieved.
Winterbottom’s television career began in the
cutting-rooms at Thames Television, and his first directing experience was
on the ThamesTVdocumentaries, Ingmar Bergman: The Magic Lantern and
Ingmar Bergman: The Director , made in 1988 and first screened on ITV
and Channel 4
In many ways this began during the 1980s when a deteriorating
situation in Northern Ireland caused the Conservative government
of Margaret Thatcher progressively to remove the various public
voices of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) from the broadcast media.
In the case of At the Edge of the Union, a 1985 BBC television documentary in the Real Lives series, the BBC bowed to pressure and
removed the programme from their schedules. In 1988 the ThamesTelevisiondocumentary series This Week investigated the killing
in Gibraltar by the Special Air