Study Guide for “This is England” (Shane Meadows, 2006)

Study Guide for Shane Meadows’s “This is England” (2006)

  1. Before watching the film, do some research about the concept of youth subcultures: how are youth subcultures defined? When and why do they emerge? What are the defining features of youth cultures? How are they perceived by society and by mass media? What impact might things like ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation have on the emergence of youth cultures? (You might like to refer to some key names such as Albert K. Cohen, Tim O’Sullivan, Sarah Thornton, Dick Hebdige, Angela McRobbie. Suggested source: The sixth chapter in Children’s Cultural Worlds (2003) by Kehily and Swann).
  2. Before watching the film, do some research to find out about the “skinhead” culture: When, where and in which social, political and economic contexts did it start? Did they have a distinctive style? Why did young people associate themselves with this youth culture? How did they define themselves? What was the role of young men and young women in the emergence of this subculture? Did this youth culture change over the years? How were they perceived by society and by mass media? What images do you associate with the word “skinhead”? Does this subculture still exist?
  3. Many film critics describe “This is England” as “semiautobiographical”. Do some research to find out about the director’s background and discuss how this information can be related to the film.
  4. What is the function of the iconography used in the title sequence of the film? How might it help you understand the film?
  5. Who is the story narrated by? What impact does the narrative voice have on you? Why?
  6. How is Shaun represented at the very beginning of the film? How does his representation contribute to your understanding of him as the protagonist of the film?
  7. What do you think about Shane Meadow’s depiction of the skinhead gang? What are their defining features? Does Meadows glamorize the gang? Does he demonize it? Give your reasons.
  8. What is the function of Milky in the story? What does his name suggest?
  9. What do you think about Shane Meadows’s depiction of Combo? Is it positive or negative? Discuss.
  10. What does the gang mean to Shaun? What does Shaun mean to the gang? What is the function of Woody and Combo in relation to Shaun?
  11. Examine the characters Woody and Combo as leaders. What does each represent in the film?
  12. How do you interpret the last sequence of the film where Shaun throws the Union Jack flag into the sea?
  13. The title of the film is drawn from a “Clash” song. In what way(s) could this be significant?
  14. What does the film reveal about the concept of masculinity? Does the film represent masculinity in only one specific way? What is your view of how masculinity is defined in the film?
  15. Explore the theme of loss-of-innocence/coming-of-age in the film.

© Ali Nihat Eken, Istanbul, September 2008
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