Image Credit: Darling (Embassy Pictures)
Although the British New Wave lasted just short of a decade, it’s undeniably the country’s most significant cinematic movement to date. Perhaps unsurprisingly for a nation famed for its archaic class system, the British New Wave originated from the unified desire among creative minds such as Karel Reisz, Jack Clayton, John Schlesinger and Lindsay Anderson to share realist stories that highlighted the struggles of working class life.
The British New Wave has incredibly close ties to other established movements associated with literature, paintings and theatre. Most notably, it coincided with the ‘angry young men,’ a group of working-to-middle class playwrights who made a huge impression on the theatre world throughout the 1950s. As the angry young men, the likes of John Osborne and Tony Richardson continued explored sociopolitical topics in the 1960s, taking these politicised discussions from theatres to the cinema.
With a particular emphasis on working class life, the British New Wave appropriately showed the hardships of life in the United Kingdom. This social realist approach became known as ‘kitchen sink realism’, thanks to expressionist painter John Bratby’s famed portrait of a kitchen sink. However, the term is not exclusive to the cinematic movement.
While Kitchen Sink Cinema strived to tell the stories from poorer backgrounds, it would not tell the whole story of the British New Wave. The entirely unexpected international success of Tom Jones and the influence of its filmmaking traits meant that Kitchen Sink Cinema would take a back seat to comedic and provocative interpretations of sixties culture. While Kitchen Sink productions would practically come to an end by 1963, the exploits of 'swinging London' would define the remaining years of Britain's New Wave. However, the former has arguably made a greater impact on contemporary British filmmaking.
The popularity of mainstream cinema ultimately overshadowed the British New Wave in the ‘60s, with international success for releases such as A Hard Day’s Night and James Bond franchise. However, the somewhat short-lived movement made a lasting impression on the nation’s independent filmmakers. Internationally acclaimed director Ken Loach has dedicated his life to societal dramas with a realist approach, while the likes of Shane Meadows and Lynne Ramsey have also successfully ensured that the hardships of working class Britons have not been forgotten in local theatres. (Source)