“Look Back in Anger” is a motion picture based on a life play created by John Osborne. It concentrates on the confrontation with the wife of an intelligent and educated but disillusioned young man from a working-class family, Jimmy Porter. His wife Allison is an impeccable and impassioned lady of high society. Secondary characters include their best friend Cliff Lewis and Allison’s snooty girlfriend Helena Charles.
What is the movie “Look Back in Anger” about.
The debut and most successful adaptation of the acclaimed theatrical production that gave rise to a curious current in British culture and cinema, The Angry Young Ones. The film tells the story of the relationship between three complicated people. Jimmy Porter is a simple worker who visits the pub after his shift. He does it not for the purpose of drinking, but to play the trumpet fanatically and enthusiastically. He is passionately in love with Allison, a pleasant young woman with blond hair. She reciprocates his affection, but when she chooses a man from a simple family as her life partner, she loses the usual comfort of her class. Alison is forced to live in an unrepresentative room and endure her husband’s furious attacks. Unexpectedly Helena, an actress in a small theater and Alison’s girlfriend, arrives. She cannot understand how she has been able to abandon her comfortable relations and live with Jimmy, a wild man who also does not give a damn about Alison. Her appearance in the Porters’ unrepresentative room instantly brings everyone to life, including Cliff (Gary Raymond), a friend of the Porter family who wants only one thing: for them all to know true happiness.
Jimmy Porter is portrayed in the narrative not as a trivially irascible guy, but as a man who knows what he wants to do in life. He becomes the harbinger of “angry youth.” He cannot stand the emptiness that filled the cultural space of the country in the late 50s, he vehemently opposes the scornful attitude with which the “high” class dignifies the “low” class. And he allows himself to vent his negativity with ease.
He, like the generation of creative and talented people hiding behind his back (no wonder he’s considered the best jazz player in town), loses sense in everything, and he expresses a certain way about it: “Everybody is delightfully lazy…”. How badly he needs some kind of spiritual uplift, a special sign or prayer of “Lord, I’m alive!” but his ears don’t pick up anything like that from his surroundings, so he’s forced to proclaim it himself. It is the emptiness, not the psycho-emotional or domestic instability, that drives him to rage against everyone, including his wife. It is on this ground that he finds common ground with his friend Allison. After all, when he quarrels with his wife, Helena is always animated. But Jimmy Porter takes his wife back after she cheats on him after a severe tragedy.
“Look Back in Anger” movie explained
For some reason, the term “British New Wave” has not gained much popularity in domestic film scholarship, not even taking into account the expression “kitchen sink realism,” which still characterizes the broader cultural phenomenon in England. However, researchers have essentially noted that the phenomenon of “angry youth” originated in the literary and theatrical environment. The flowering of the phenomenon is associated with the premiere of the play of the same name on the stage of the London Royal Court, held on May 8, 1956.
The difficulty is that now it is difficult to determine exactly who was more fortunate: the filmmakers, who seized the valuable material and created an interesting and relevant film for the time, or still the writers and playwrights, who otherwise risked not receiving international recognition for their services. Here, perhaps, it is more appropriate to speak of a classic example of the cross-fertilization of different types of art…
“Look Back in Anger” ending explained
In response to Jimmy’s call not to put up with the obvious injustice and to continue his struggle, the immigrant sadly notes that such a fate is not the worst, because in his home country he is generally considered untouchable. The idea is developed indirectly in Alison’s conversation with her elderly father, who hears from his daughter’s mouth not the nicest of truths. The retired colonel is hurt because everything has been strangely transformed – there is no longer that former greatness of the British Empire.
Jimmy is tormented by doubts of the soul, but he sees that everything remains the same: rigid superstition is rampant in society, and petty-bourgeois morality simply overthrows human souls. People are unable (unwilling?) to deal with basic, existential questions, to think about the meaning of their existence, often squandered on trifles and ending suddenly. So Helena’s act, which at first can only be characterized as meanness and betrayal of a friend, the filmmakers suggest that viewers do not rush to condemn indiscriminately. The novel unexpectedly had a positive impact on the angry young man, and from the finale it is clear that he was able to gain wisdom and mature – expressed his willingness to take responsibility for their own destiny, for their family, for the future. It seems that this conventionally optimistic denouement was perfectly in keeping with the spirit of the times – but it is also telling that much later, in 1980, Lindsay Anderson and David Hugh Jones would return to the glorious play (on television), trusting Malcolm McDowell in the leading role.