Throughout the twentieth century, British national identity has remained relatively the same. Part of this identity was formed during the Second War World by using comradery, a stiff upper lip and humour in order to maintain morale. However, British national identity also includes the aspect of a rigid class system, which was also affected by the war. The films viewed during the semester have highlighted these aspects of British identity, though it is important to be aware of the limitations of film as well.
The Second World War was known as the people’s war because everyone joined together to defeat a common enemy. It was during this time rigid class lines gave way to the needs of the country. Men from all classes fought beside each other, children from lower classes were evacuated from cities to live in affluent households where they would be out of harms way, and women entered the workforce to keep the war effort in motion. Britons sacrificed a lot and were reminded by the government to “keep calm and carry on.” Their efforts came with the expectation the government would reward them once the war concluded.
Britons fought the war by banding together, this can be seen in such films as “The Way to the Stars” which showcases the sacrifice everyone had to make in order to win the War. Viewers get a glimpse of how strong the peoples sense of national comradery was. Another example of this can been seen in “Passport to Pimlico” when the residences of Pimlico ban together to set up their own state following their “separation.” However not only is this comradery seen by the people of Pimlico but also by Londoners who offer to help when the new state runs out of food.
Another aspect of national identity seen during the war, was the stiff upper lip. Britons are known for their emotional restraint, and “The Way to the Stars” is a perfect example of this. During the film the pilots show great restraint, when one of their own dies it is referred to “bad show.” There is no crying, no feeling sad just the reality that someone has passed and the requirement to keep going. However this restraint is not only demonstrated by the pilots but also by the loved ones left behind. In one scene Toddy the manager of a hotel does not cry at the news her husband was killed in battle, she simply carries on without another thought. This trait was expected of all Briton’s during the time.
After the war the government worked to implement a new welfare state, which included changes to the current education system. These changes were based on the Education Act of 1944 with the goal of increasing access to higher levels of education for working class families. The need for such a change can be seen during the “Up” series. Interviews with the working class children show they are unsure of their future passed the limited education they would receive, whereas the children from...