The Spirit Of '45 Review

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Ken Loach's documentary explores the high ideals and grand ambitions of Clement Attlee's NHS and welfare state, scrutinising its implementation and subsequent neglect.


Clement Attlee's post-war Labour government transformed Britain. In addition to founding the National Health Service, it also nationalised a number of crucial industries in a bid to close the chasm between the country’s haves and have-nots. The scale and speed of the achievement remains staggering, and Ken Loach is right to highlight how quickly the spirit in which these reforms were made was allowed to dissipate. Moreover, there is palpable pain in the testimony of the politicians, union officials and ordinary workers lamenting the decline of authentic socialism. But the climactic anti-Thatcherite diatribe is historically blinkered and naively emotive.

Often fascinating and impassioned, Loach's doc lapses into polemic towards the end, an understandable side-effect of his granite-strong convictions. Probably won't get it onto Margaret Thatcher's LoveFilm list though.