It Couldn't Happen Here

Blu-Ray Rating: ***1/2

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Read Jennie Kermode's film review of It Couldn't Happen Here
It Couldn't Happen Here

There are some films that one doesn't forget. That was true of this one, for me, even though it took me 32 years to see it. Only just old enough to get in legally, I made my way into the city on the day of its release only to discover that ticket prices had risen and I was a few pence short, so if I'd watched it I wouldn't have been able to get home; I just had to accept the waste of the bus money I'd already spent, the way I had to put up with being hit on by a middle aged man who thought I was younger on my way back. There was no returning. It was pulled a few days later - no-one was really interested in paying to see what the critics then described as a string of pop videos badly strung together (though it continued to be whispered about in excited tones in the LGBT community). A brief appearance on VHS was similarly ill-fated. It is now, finally, available in this dual DVD/Blu-ray form.

Passing time has altered the way the film comes across on several levels. It does indeed have its flaws, but it's a fascinating snapshot both of life as it was lived in the mid-Eighties, life as remembered from some 20 years before that, and England as it was imagined from assorted perspectives in both periods. Inevitably, it illuminates the imagined Englands of today. Watching it at this remove allows one access to layers of meaning and interpretation not readily available at the time of its cinema release.

Copy picture

The film itself is supported by a wealth of extras. The interview with Jack Bond is the best thing on both discs and highlights his powers as a storyteller even when he isn't calling the shots. Intimate and yet with much to say about the social ills of the world on which the film draws, it will change the way you view it. There's also a lot of interesting material in the interview with choreographer Arlene Phillips, who was pushing the boundaries of dance at the time and who sheds light on the censorious climate in which the film was made.

An extensive selection of text interviews and other treasures you can read through at your leisure completes the mix, together with a set of imaged collectables that will appeal to serious fans and whose presence suits the cluttered character of the film's interiors.

Beautifully preserved though it may be, this is best watched on an ailing cathode-ray TV set in the cramped bedroom of a seaside guest house to which you have had to retreat early to escape the rain.

Reviewed on: 08 Jul 2020
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It Couldn't Happen Here packshot
The Pet Shop Boys explore a changing England.

Product Code: B084DG7D2Q

Region: 0

Sound: Dolby, PAL

Extras: Limited Edition 48-page Digi-book, audio commentary by Jack Bond, James Dillon and Simon Archer, West End Boy: Jack Bond interview, It Can Happen Here: Arlene Phillips dance choreographer interview, Always On My Mind full-length promotional video, Actually (an unfilmed early version of the script for the film, included here in its entirety for the first time anywhere), As It Happened: Image galleries including the complete final version of the script, the director's shot lists, Pet Shop Boys reference lyric sheets and promotional materials for It Couldn't Happen Here, original theatrical trailer

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