This Is England

DVD Rating: ****

Reviewed by: Paul Griffiths

Read Jennie Kermode's film review of This Is England
This Is England

This Is England may not have kicked you as viscerally as Dead Man’s Shoes, but it finally stamped Meadows’ rep as one of Britain’s singular filmmakers a decade after he booted his debut TwentyFourSeven onto the big screen. Now, This Is England’s comprehensive two-disc DVD release further fuels his reputation and is a stomping feast for film fans.

Meadows is joined on his commentary by producer Mark Herbert and actor Thomas Turgoose (Shaun). As you’d expect with a film that he based on his own experiences, Meadows not only gives an insight into the filmmaking, but also his own take on skinhead culture in the early 1980s and beyond. Herbert and Turgoose also acquit themselves well and there’s clearly strong mutual respect and affection between the director and his talented young lead.

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The two interviews with Meadows see him provide further anecdote, insight and discussion about the production and his youth, which he talks about with refreshing honesty and openness. The BFI/Guardian interview is lengthier and more discursive, but there’s no cheap-trick doubling up afoot here, so both are informative companion pieces. Herbert gets his own interview, too, which is a bit more prosaic and clips heavy.

Adding to the viewer’s far-reaching look at the production are the enjoyable production featurettes. Taking us behind the scenes of the haircut, the party and the newsagent episodes and the denouement in Combo’s (Stephen Graham) flat, we get to see how they were composed and rehearsed. Throughout Turgoose displays enthusiasm and confidence, while Graham shows how dedicated he can be at turning on his inner psycho.

Turgoose’s original chat-cum-audition is included. Lasting a few minutes it’s an absorbing digicam encounter during which he effortlessly shows he’s got what it takes without necessarily realising it. The production design and make-up featurettes also reveal the efforts put into getting the ‘look’ right, striving for valid realism and not settling for pseudo-pastiche. Perhaps most satisfying, though, are the interviews with the cast and crew and some of their rehearsals. It’s a grassroots-up look at the pieces that make up the whole and should really come with written notes for budding filmmakers and actors.

The deleted scenes are all finished to final edit standard and are engaging enough, but sadly have no commentary to contextualise their cut. Of greatest interest might be the alternate ending, which was rightly kept out.

The Skinhead and Falklands essays are static text that slide into the brief - a few slices of socio-political historicism, enriching the landscape further.

Finally, minor de rigueur details such as the trailer and biographies complete a package that, like the film, is clearly the result of much appreciable forethought and effort. Overall, this release has got both its boots on and knows exactly where it’s coming from. An informative pleasure.

Reviewed on: 05 Sep 2007
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This Is England packshot
A young boy adopted by a group of skinheads struggles to find his own identity in a world dominated by racism and war. Now out to own on two-disc DVD.
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Product Code: OPTD1011

Region: 2

Ratio: 1.85:1

Sound: 2.0, 5.1 & DTS

Extras: Director's Commentary, Behind the Scenes, Deleted Scenes, Tommo's Audition Tapes, Casting & Rehearsals, Trailers, BFI Interview with Shane Meadows, Interviews with Shane Meadows (Jason Wood) and Mark Herbert, Cast & Crew, Skinhead and Falklands essays

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