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British Films of the 1960s

The rise of youth-oriented culture in Britain was reflected in, and perpetuated by, films of the 1960s. The rebelliousness of Sixties youth developed from the anger over questions of class, poverty, and opportunity that characterized the "angry-young-man" school of film, but took on a fresh pop-culture sheen when it was joined to the rejection of social mores (especially regarding the new sexual freedom) and the celebration of youth embodied in the music and fashion of this era of revived prosperity. Film directors developed flashy new techniques that became, in themselves, an important part of the 'swinging' Sixties look and sound. Films such as Billy Liar (John Schlesinger, 1963) made the connection between the stifling weight of tradition and the youthful longing for freedom. This was reflected more lightheartedly in stylistically innovative works such as A Hard Day's Night (Richard Lester, 1964)and The Knack . . . and How to Get It (Richard Lester, 1965). Some films, such as To Sir with Love (James Clavell, 1966), largely applied a veneer of Sixties style to what were old-fashioned standard popular film forms of the 1950s and others, such as Georgy Girl (Silvio Narizzano, 1967), treated the complications of the new freedom in a serious manner but with a light touch and a dash of the new style. In some cases, such as Smashing Time (Desmond Davis, 1967), the visual style and the 'swinging' content degenerated into a cynical show-business formula. But other films, such as Darling (John Schlesinger, 1965), Alfie (Lewis Gilbert, 1966) and Blow Up (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1967) seriously questioned the freedom promised, if not delivered, by the trends celebrated by this youth culture.

The economy of postwar Britain did not begin to revive until the early 1950s but from 1951 to 1963 wages rose by 72 per cent and prices were held back to a mere 45 per cent increase, unemployment was very low, and the rapid expansion of the mark...

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British Films of the 1960s. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 23:15, April 21, 2019, from