I really recommend this movie. I like all the IFC stuff I’ve seen lately; man, I should have gone to the IFC cinema in NYC. Next time. I think it works for STC. Ultra-indie, ultra-non-Hollywood, but I could see the pattern. To test: GENRE: Rites of Passage. “Going through something,” a “wrong way”, and a …
" /> Jason Holborn | Cybercarnet/Weblog - Patterns: THIS IS ENGLAND

Patterns: THIS IS ENGLAND

I really recommend this movie.
I like all the IFC stuff I’ve seen lately; man, I should have gone to the IFC cinema in NYC. Next time.

I think it works for STC. Ultra-indie, ultra-non-Hollywood, but I could see the pattern. To test:

GENRE: Rites of Passage. “Going through something,” a “wrong way”, and a “solution”.
– Shaun’s going through having no human connection in a chaotic and humiliating environment he has no control over
– he becomes active in a nationalistic movement to foster “English pride” because of a need to belong
– he ultimately learns how to find/accept genuine human contact

OPENING IMAGE
Soldier FATHER’s photo on dresser (we’ll discover the Father is DEAD)

THEME STATED
“And your dad in the ashtray”
The movie is about nationalism and patriotism, about belonging and excluding. Shaun’s father has died in the Falkland Island war and Shaun will learn and explore what that means to him and what he will make of it.
Thematically, the movie is about The (Possible) End of England; aimless youth lacking meaning wander a landscape of rotting infrastructure and abandoned buildings. Their patrimony (their “dad”) has died and lies in ruins and dust (in “ashes”), death in meaning of Death of Life (‘ashes to ashes’) and Death of Structures (‘dustbin’ of history)

SET UP
SHAUN has no friends in school; his life is humiliating and bitterly alone

He’s poor and lacks instruction in respect and manners. He’s banned from the local convenience store, SANDHU’S NEWS

CATALYST
He meets some Ska-loving skinheads. The Leader of the circle, WOODY, has some (just “some”) feelings for Shaun and beseeches him to hang.

DEBATE
Can Shaun create lines between himself and this gang?
– CAN HE TRUST THEM ENOUGH??? He really doesn’t WANT to hang with them, accept their invitation. He cannot accept or believe that a group of people want him for anything else than mocking amusement. He doesn’t want to be used anymore, he seeks connection – but does not accept it exists.

– His station and place of comfort are tested. Finally, he volunteers to quit the Gang, if it will make Tubbs feel better about his rank. THE GANG RALLIES: No, they WANT him to stay with them, as Friend and Member.

STILL IN SET UP
Shaun shaves his head, gets new clothes. Finally, at long long long last, he’s a someone with a crowd.

His MOTHER tries her best. Hampered by class and education.

BREAK INTO TWO
Shaun is truly one of the crowd. These will be the salad days of his life, life has turned good.

Mother is upset at his shaved hair; SCOLDS skinheads, but is GRATEFUL to them for giving him friendship all the same. She confers Shaun to the gang. Into Growth Machine New World of Act Two – the skinheads.

B-STORY
Wood’s old mate COMBO arrives back in town from 3.5 years in prison.

Shaun gets his first kiss, from “Smell” (Michelle). It’s a serious MAKE-OUT. He looks like 4 but he kisses like a 40 year old.

Even Wood can see that Combo has changed in prison.
He’s intense now, troubled.
Combo makes a speech to whole Gang – about patriotism, nationalism, choosing England, being proud of heritage. He talks about the Falklands, and the puppet soldiers.

SHAUN PUNCHES COMBO (a full-grow adult). His dad died in the Falklands! Combo begs forgiveness: he didn’t know. He speaks earnestly to Shaun, about Dad’s meaningless death for an England that lied.

Combo draws a literal line (in spit): stay with him, join his nationalist fight, or leave.

Wood must leave, he can’t handle this.
But Shaun stays, despite Wood and Lol (Wood’s GF)’s imploring.

NOTE: END OF SET UP
Now begins FUN AND GAMES
In Snyder’s order – but way off the page count.

Shaun and Combo bond, doing Father-Figure/Son stuff. Cruising on established stakes, achieved balance of tension, they have Shaun’s first ever real talk about his feelings concerning his father’s death.
Combo’s IMPRESSED Shaun took that punch at him – a little kid like him, standing up for his pride in his father (heritage), Combo’s pleased.

Combo takes Shaun and others to a Nationalist Party rally; a greying white man in glasses and sombre dark suit makes an impassioned plea for nationalism, against immigrant values, for English values, for pride, against shame of their British heritage, and for blood – can they shed it for the battle?

I can see how Snyder could describe this as Fun & Games, but it’s not really coasting on established stakes/tension… I think it’s a def stakesraiser. That’s just One sole F&G scene so far
It’s Promise of the Premise though – poor environment offering no meaning as breeding ground for nationalism to take root

One of Combo’s gang is uncertain: is this right??
Combo BEATS and HUMILIATES the skinhead, and they ABANDON him on a highway in the middle of nowhere.
He’s failed the test, he’s Not One Of Them.

MIDPOINT
Shaun and gang in Slow Motion walk towards camera, DISSOLVE TO: image of FLAPPING ST. GEORGE’S CROSS flag
Shaun’s False Victory is “belonging”. Not merely “hanging with” a la Wood, but genuinely truly BONDED, through sharing of pain and pride, to other Human Beings, a Community.
But it’s false because there’s no such thing as countries or nations, and nationalism is usually bad news – as Shaun will soon learn the hard way.

BAD GUYS CLOSE IN
They spraypaint graffitti, terrorize girls they class as “whores”

Combo and Gang kick brown boys in Islamic headgear off a basketball court. It’s THEIRS, for THEM, and the brown boys should never be seen again in these streets. Combo taunts them with a KNIFE.

Shaun gets a CROSS tattoo on his finger – further imprinted with nationalism, the wrong kind of belonging.

The Gang terrorizes the “Paki” shopowner who banned Shaun in Act 1. Threaten to KILL. Steal, claim ownership of his life and his livelihood, the store.
(There’s many Great Scenes in this movie, and Combo’s in most — the actor is great, never moreso than this scene)

They crash Smell’s birthday party.
Wood and Lol and his Friends leave, they don’t want to be around Combo.
Smell welcomes Shaun back. SHE’S INCREDIBLY STUPID, doesn’t understand why Wood and Combo don’t get on.
Shaun asks Smell, many years his senior, to be his girlfriend. She accepts.

FIRST/ONLY SCENE WITHOUT SHAUN, so somewhat atypical:
Probably this scene, despite not happening to Shaun, is ALL IS LOST.
Combo tries hard to make up with Lol, whom we discover he spent the night with before going to prison. It was the most beautiful night of his life. Lol informs him it was the worst of hers — 16, drunk, she’s desperate to forget. He’s made a plea for her heart, confessing his — she’s rejected him, and leaves.
Combo has an intense emotional reaction. DARK NIGHT OF SOUL
(Really, this actor is excellent)

– It’s the end of Combo’s rope, he’s now emotionally too mixed-up to think straight, he has met devastation — she was his ONLY HOPE through 3.5 years in prison, THE ONE THING that kept him going.
Now he can’t cope.

The movie is about the relation of young people to the past and to the State; Combo represents Father Figure to Shaun, and one that believes in the past and the State. The Young Person’s Parental Figure creates the person’s world, and this All Is Lost for Combo will have dramatic repercussions for Shaun.

BREAK INTO 3
Shaun’s Mom has accepted Smell as Shaun’s GF.

Combo approaches Milk, Wood’s Jamaican-English compatriot, for marijuana. He persuades Milk into hanging out.

FINALE (It fits a cursory glance at the Five Point Finale but I’m not taking the time to draw that out fully here today)
Milk and the skinheads (including Shawn) get stoned and hang out.

FUN AND GAMES
This is a long, coasting/cruising scene, of fun and good times, bonhomie and sharing of personal stories, to dancing and laughing and drugs.

BUT IT’S ALL A TRAP
Combo gets the hate he needs from Milk (from the stories of his “large family”, “unmarried uncle with many children of different mothers”, “lots of good food”, their “distinct unique culture”, and suddenly attacks Milk

Shaun PROTESTS, doing the RIGHT THING, but in vain – he’s pinned down as Combo administers the beating.

Combo goes crazy when other skinheads don’t want part of this scene. He attacks the toughest with a glass bottle.

Shaun readmitted to room — Shaun realizes the truth (MILK IS NOW DEAD) and breaks into sobs.

Combo realizes he’s out of control, has done something irrational, and COMMANDS, BARKING ORDERS ABOUT MANHOOD, arranging Shaun (Youth)’s help in, all too late, fixing his (Nationalism)’s mistakes. “Don’t cry! Don’t LOOK AT HIS FACE! Get his feet. Don’t look at his face!”

DISSOLVE TO:
Music Montage of British Soldiers, post-triumph, in Falkland Islands. Drinking, bearing Dead. Union Jack flags and British Battleship welcomed back home to Merry Olde Englande, to cheering crowds with hugs and signs and kisses.

EPILOGUE
Shaun’s mother asks permission to enter his room; they talk about his dad. She assures him (obviously post-Milk’s death) that things are going to be alright for him. Is he okay?
She takes Shaun’s hand, his first CONTACT with caring Adult Parental Figure in story.

CLOSING IMAGE(S)
Shaun balls up St. George’s Cross flag on beach, and hurls it into ocean.

THE FLAG SINKS OUT OF SIGHT INTO THE DIRTY, MUDDED WATER

SHAWN (MED CLOSE) STARES AT SINKING FLAG, THEN UP INTO CAMERA LENS. CUT TO BLACK.

So, it certainly contains all the elements Blake Snyder brought to the table; though there’s definitely some play.
FOR EXAMPLE: Set Up continues into Act 2 (introduction of a B-Story not introduced in Act 1)
NOTE: I know Snyder’s made the same play room at times in his own BS2’s (in STC Goes To Movies). Probably he ultimately wasn’t as strict on the beats’ order as he may have sometimes seemed.