Mike Leigh At The BBC
- Release Date:November 06, 2009
- The Film:5.0
- The Disc:4.0
This wonderfully comprehensive box set showcases British realist Mike Leigh's (Topsy-Turvy>, Happy-Go-Lucky, Vera Drake)formative work for the BBC...
This wonderfully comprehensive box set showcases British realist Mike Leigh's (Topsy-Turvy, Happy-Go-Lucky, Vera Drake) formative work for the BBC in the seventies and early eighties. Although his subjects are quite domestic, the freshness and iconoclasm of his approach is there from the start, as is his basic warmth and empathy. One of three substantial extras with this set is a chat between Leigh and author Will Self. Self points out that, although Leigh is accused of being obsessed with the class system and patronising to some of his lower middle class characters, his real theme is the great human struggle for dignity.
Abigail's Party (1977) made the first splash. Although Leigh now cringes at the "terrible" technique in transferring this Hampstead Theatre play to the small screen, it still grabs you. Alison Steadman\'s performance as the ghastly, pretentious hostess Beverly spawned catch phrases that passed into the language. Her thinly disguised mania for keeping up with the Jones', and her vacuous attachment to decor, pre-figures the current obsession with make over shows. Nuts In May (1978) was a slight idea but, as usual, is done with Leigh's unerring character accuracy, making it a lasting little jewel. It\'s also a comic version of Leigh's old themes of conventional but dysfunctional marital relationships. It features an appalling train-spotter type husband and his put-upon but largely uncomplaining wife. When they try to go camping in rural England, we know that in more senses than one it will be a wash out. Four Days In July (1984) is one of Leigh's rare attempts to tackle an overtly "political" topic: the troubles in Northern Ireland. Typically, he eschews all head on description, and instead narrates the struggles through the fates of different families, one from the Protestant side and the other from the Catholic. The scene where the mothers from the two communities meet in a maternity ward shows how subtle and penetrating Leigh can be. This is the aspect of Leigh that contributed to his masterworks Naked and Secrets & Lies: films of anger but also of searing humanity.