Friday, August 12, 2011

Favorite Movies Set In The United Kingdom

Tomorrow my family is going on a ten day trip to London and Ireland, so I will not be posting during that time. Before I go, however, I thought I'd write about my favorite movies set in the United Kingdom.

Casablanca is my favorite movie and Chariots of Fire is my second favorite. It is the story of the British running team that competed in the 1924 Olympics. The story focuses mainly on two of the runners: Harold Abrahams, played by Ben Cross, and Eric Liddell, played by Ian Charleson. Abrahams, a Jew, is the victim of racism and doubt. He runs with a fierce determination to prove all his naysayers wrong. Liddell is a devout Christian who is torn between his passion for running and his devotion to God. His character is summed up in one of the greatest cinematic quotes of all time: "I believe God made me for a purpose. But He also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure." Though I am not a runner and I know very little about the world of running Chariots of Fire never ceases to move me. It has profound themes of faith, duty to one's country, determination and acceptance.


This movie is the real-life story of Michael Collins, the man largely responsible for establishing the Irish Free State in the 1920s. Liam Neeson plays Collins in one of the greatest performances of his career. Collins was a mighty leader. I saw this movie for the first time tonight and I loved it. According to the historian who lives in my house the film is almost exactly historically accurate. The film also stars Alan Rickman as Eamon De Velara. The only weak link in the movie is Julia Roberts who is terribly miscast as part of the love triangle that included Collins and his best friend Harry Boland. Her accent is just awful. There are many actresses that could have played the part beautifully. Other than that, Michael Collins is a powerful film.

Shakespeare In Love is a fictional story about how William Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet. The film stars Joseph Fiennes as Shakespeare and Gwyneth Paltrow as Viola, the young woman who pretends to be a man so she can be an actor. I'd say that Shakespeare in Love is part drama, part romantic comedy. The writing is so witty and the drama feels very real. The film is also about the beginning of show business and it makes fun of all the cliches of the biz. The movie won a whopping 7 Academy Awards.

The Damned United is the real-life story of Brian Clough, England's most famous football coach. (I'd call it soccer, but it just doesn't sound right.) Clough was the most successful football coach in history until he became the coach of Leeds United. He only lasted 44 days as coach of Leeds. Michael Sheen is one of my favorite actors and he captures the vanity and abrasive qualities of Clough, but also his gentler side and his insecurities. Before he became an actor, Sheen was on his way to becoming a professional football player and he gets to show off his skills in the movie. The film co-stars Timothy Spall as Peter Taylor, Clough's right-hand man. There aren't very many good movies about the football world, which is why The Damned United is such a gem. It's just an all-around great sports movie.

My least favorite film genre is Romantic Comedy because there are SO many terrible rom-coms, but I just can't resist Notting Hill. It's a great movie about a normal owner of a bookstore who falls in love with a famous actress. Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant have great chemistry. A staple of romantic comedies is the group of quirky, strange friends and family members of the lead characters. I usually find these characters really annoying, but Will's circle of friends strike a nice balance between weird and loveable.

I love all the Monty Python movies, but The Holy Grail is by far my favorite. It's just downright hilarious and it's a wonderfully quotable movie. Whenever I need a good laugh I watch The Holy Grail. My favorite scene is the Holy Hand Grenade scene. "Though shalt count to three. No more. No less... Four thou shalt not count, neither count thy two, excepting that thou proceed to three. Five is right out."

Finding Neverland is the true story of J.M. Barrie and the family that inspired him to write Peter Pan. The film stars Johnny Depp in his greatest role, in my opinion. Kate Winslet plays the widowed mother of four boys. To put it simply, this movie is amazing. It is just beautiful. Of course Depp and Winslet are wonderful, but the kids who play the boys are fantastic as well. The boy who becomes closest to Barrie is Peter, played by Freddie Highmore. Highmore delivers a powerful, heart-breaking, and inspiring performance. The film also stars Dustin Hoffman as the owner of the theater that puts on Barrie's plays. The movie nabbed an Oscar nomination for Best Picture which is unusual for a movie rated PG.

And there you have it. A few of my favorite movies about the U.K.

Let me know your favorites in the comments :)

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