You can read 19 more articles this month
New Town Utopia (15)
Directed by Christopher Ian Smith
THIS visually arresting portrait of Basildon New Town and the hopes it spawned on becoming a beacon for a social and classless utopia make for a thought-provoking documentary.
Director Christopher Ian Smith shows you the Essex town as you have never seen it before through its bleak and striking architecture and its colourful and eye-catching sculptures and murals.
The words and works of local artists, musicians and poets are interwoven throughout and shed a fascinating light on life in this former new town, its slow demise and the demonising of its working-class inhabitants.
Basildon was one of 10 new towns to be built across Britain, as announced by Lewis Silkin (voiced by Jim Broadbent), the Minister for Town and Country Planning, in 1946.
The idea was to relocate post-war London families so they could enjoy open spaces and country living. The rich and the working class would live harmoniously in these purpose-built towns, which Silkin hoped would create a new kind of citizen with a sense of “beauty, culture and civic pride.”
The film shows how Basildon was a cultural hive of art, music and theatre — it gave us Depeche Mode — which have slowly been killed off by the local council as it cut back on their funding.
The documentary analyses why Silkin's aesthetic and civic dream faltered and then failed. Seventy years on, Basildon, rather than being the city which people from all over the world want to visit as Silkin promised, is a place many of its residents want to escape from — and have.
Art and culture are a distant memory and Basildon is now considered one of the worst towns in Britain, with a huge gap between rich and poor.
This is a powerful and visceral ode to Basildon and to crushed social dreams and aspirations.
You'll never view this Essex town in the same light again.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.