Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 260: Tue Sep 17

Britannia Hospital (Anderson, 1982): London Review Bookshop, Bury Place, WC1A 2JL

London Review Bookshop introduction:
Marking 25 years since the all too early death of its remarkable director, the fiercely independent and always engaged Lindsay Anderson, we’re delighted to show the final part of his ‘state of the nation and psyche’ trilogy made with actor Malcolm McDowell and screenwriter David Sherwin. Britannia Hospital does what it says on the tin, offering an occasionally bloody satire on a country in crisis. If this sounds all too familiar, rest assured that acclaimed novelist and Anderson fan Jonathan Coe, famed for his own acute writerly incisions into the belly of Britain's hopes and fears, will be on hand to contextualise.

This is an extract from Jonathan Coe’s article on Lindsay Anderson in the Guardian in 2005. You can read the full article here:
Britannia Hospital was the film that almost killed off Anderson's directorial career in the UK. Released in 1982, just as the Falklands War triggered an unexpected wave of British jingoism, this venomous state-of-the-nation movie ran counter to the mood of the times just as emphatically as If ... had caught it 14 years earlier. I have a vivid memory of seeing it at the ABC Shaftesbury Avenue during its (extremely short) London release. Sitting with my then-girlfriend in an almost empty auditorium, I realised after about 10 minutes that I had brought her to the date movie from hell.
The film spares nobody: neither the hospital management who will stop at nothing (even murder) to ensure the smooth running of a ludicrous royal visit, nor the petty, self-interested trade unionists who are bent on disrupting it. Private health care, the delusions of science, the complicity of the media and the fantasy of Empire are all comprehensively dumped upon. Coaxing Brechtian, anti-realist performances out of his cast - and using that cast to collapse the stifling distinction between high and low culture (Robin Askwith shares the screen with Joan Plowright) - Anderson produced a shockingly truthful caricature of Britain on the cusp of the Thatcher revolution.
Here (and above) is the trailer.

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