Big Society

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Big society is a short film that looks at the potential pitfalls of people power, something encouraged by the current government through its Big Society initiative. Like most of this think-tank born bollocks, it’s a pretty wooly and vague concept, but the gist is people need to take more responsibility for society at large; they need to get more interested, more involved and generally more active in their communities. It’s a nice idea on the surface, everyone’s a bit more conscientious, a bit more caring, but it ignores the one flaw common in all human social organisations; people often make bad, bad, irrational decisions.

In Big Society we meet the de-facto leader of a new movement that has decided to take the issue of littering into its own hands, albeit through disproportionate, violent means. A careless discarding of a wrapper or piece of paper can be met with slaps, punches or even a tasering. It seems with this Big Society, violence is the answer, and its dealers are imbued with unshakable conviction of the rightness of their actions.

The reductio ad absurdum approach of taking political ideas to extremes in order to demonstrate their flaws is a well worn type of satire, and one that is unfortunately often clumsily executed, as the makers don’t know when to be silly and when to be straight. Big Society, however, manages to walk that line with some skill, thanks to some very well written dialogue coming from a character that actually has some background and believability. This is all brought to life brilliantly by the lead, Jonathan Rhodes, who delivers a pitch perfect performance of a man who has decided enough was enough (so good in fact that many commenters on YouTube don’t realise this is fiction). He plays the character totally straight, which in turn makes the silliness and absurdity even funnier.

This is a focused and very well executed film, but one that also has a lot going on under the surface; feelings of powerlessness in society, the effects of anti-social behaviour, people doing things for themselves, and even the reintegration of soldiers into normal society. It’s undoubtedly funny, but like the best satires, it’s also smart.

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About Author

David Price is the editor of Gorilla Film Online and co-writer/co-producer of MarsCorp and The Bunker podcasts. He has made a number of short films and has watched more than 12 feature films. Writers/con-artists can contact him at daveprice at gorillafilmmagazine.com

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