Films have the power to represent the different ideas, images and messages that a filmmaker wants to portray. Different cultures, characters or attitudes can be shown in films with just simple words or images on the screen. Also a two hour film is much more interesting and entertaining than a long speech on a particular subject. Although filmmakers can construct different messages for their audiences we can interpret them in different ways. So filmmakers can use stories to grip their audience, make money, while also getting a powerful message across. Britain has become very multicultural in the past fifty years.
People have moved here from all over the world looking for a better life. This makes our society more diverse and interesting as traditions and styles from abroad adapt and change this country. In my essay, I will be particularly looking at Asian culture in Britain, which is represented in the two films, 'Bend it like Beckham' and 'East is East'. I'll be looking at some of the characters and scenes and what they might represent. In Bend it like Beckham multicultural Britain is portrayed very efficiently. It shows how young Asians are still expected to be faithful to their Asian roots and to keep the same way of life in a foreign country.
Football is used to show how an Asian child can adapt to British culture. Football is also a new interest for British girls as well. It's the story of Jess Bamra, a teenage Asian growing up in Hounslow, West London. She has been brought up with a traditional Sikh background with religious parents who want the best for their daughter. Her real passion in life though lies in football, a traditional English game. She also idolises David Beckham, an Englishman and she is often found down at the park playing with other Asian boys. These boys also have a passion for a traditionally foreign sport.
It is at the park that her footballing talent is un-earthed by Jules, a typically English girl. Jules later becomes Jess' best friend as Jess joins her in the Hounslow Harriers girl's team. As her sister Pinky's wedding day approaches, Jess has to lie to her parents in order to attend the Harrier's matches. 'That's it, No more football! ' Jess' mother shouts. She does not consider it suitable for an Indian girl to be playing sport, while her father discourages it to. The opening scenes of the film show Jess fantasising about playing with her idol David Beckham for Manchester United.
This represents the fact that Jess is looking up to an English modern day icon and shows her love of an English sport as a young Asian. She lives up in a suburban semi-detached house in Hounslow, just like thousands of other Asian families. Later, Jess goes shopping in Southall with her sister Pinky. The street shown is full of Asians and is sandwiched by many Asian shops and businesses. This shows Southall as a very Asian district of London due to the arrival of a multitude of cultures in the city. Jess has a male friend in Tony who is also Asian and shares a similar passion for David Beckham.
This shows that the older generation's views affect both boys and girls. This also shows cultural togetherness and reflects the changing nature of Asian role models. Pinky is more relaxed than her sister and is madly in love with her fianci??. Pinky's fianci?? is also Indian and his parents are friends of the family. Unfortunately they accuse Jess of kissing an English boy and cautiously call off the wedding; this shows the older view about relationships with English boys. This is also shown when Jess is describing to her team mates who she is most likely to end up marrying.
She tells the story of the whole film in 10 seconds. 'Indian girls aren't supposed to play football'. She also says that she will be marrying an Indian, not an English, Hindu or Muslim man. Her mothers will is still strong over her, but her real passion football is immune and Jess will strive to almost any length to play, even if it means leaving her sisters wedding. Jess comes to the aid of the Harriers and arrives for a match where an American scout is watching. Jess comes off the bench and scores with an unstoppable freekick to win the match 2-1.
The director is clever by showing her relatives dressed in traditional Sikh dresses in the defensive wall, in Jess' mind. This shows Jess' torn feeling between her Indian and English identity. Also the scene shows a customary Indian celebration, and Sikh wedding against an English one, and goal celebration, through fading and quick straight cuts. The clothes worn by the family at the wedding are typically Indian, while Jess feels awkward wearing shorts as her mother would strongly disapprove during the match. Again, this is another example of the older generation trying to keep style and tradition as they are.
The music is mostly modern western style, with small pieces of Asian music thrown in to show Jess' varied emotions. At the end of the film when Jess and Jules leave for America you realise that both families are very similar in that they want the best for their daughters, this reflects the filmmaker's opinion that both cultures should be united in that sense. Also the audience realises that both girls could be going onto bigger things. East is East tells the story of a young Asian family living in Salford, Manchester in the early 1970's.
George the father is a devout Muslim and often overlooks his seven children's happiness when making decisions. His wife, Ella is much more of an ally of the children. She has no Asian or Muslim background and helps George run the chip shop which they own. George's ultimate goal is to arrange marriages for his teenaged sons within the accepted tradition of the Muslim faith. But culture is often a force that parents try in vain to withstand and these children, raised in a vibrant foreign land are not prepared to take George's proposals lying down.
The beginning of East is East shows a Christian parade through the streets of Salford and the seven children are marching with their local English community. This shows the representation of togetherness in the community despite cultural divisions. When Ella hears that George is watching the parade around the corner of the street, she leads the kids down a side alley to avoid his gaze. He would not be able to accept the fact that his children felt part of another religion. It is not just about religion though, for the children to drop their religion would be like dropping their culture in George's eyes.
But that's exactly what the children want to do. Ella's best friend is Rose. Her roots lie in Salford, and she has ginger hair like Ella. She provides a useful outlet for Ella to talk to and gossip in privacy away from her family of Asians. In one of the final pieces of action in the film, George lets out his rage on Ella after finding his sons' wedding gowns ripped up and distributed. He assaults Ella in the fish and chip shop, punching her constantly until she bleeds. This tells us that George is violent and has massive influence over the attitude over the other characters.
The mise en scene in East is East reflects the 1970's style of living and shows typical suburban surroundings and the life the family live. The film ends with a shot showing the whole neighbourhood getting along fine with each other, revealing the togetherness of the new society that the filmmakers want to leave us with. While Bend it like Beckham has its storyline revolving around football and Jess' 'bending of the rules' East is East has its storyline much more based around Family loyalties and the position the family is in.
It shows more of the children's resistance of George and their will to overpower him. There is an enormous similarity though; the older generation want things to remain as they are while the younger generation want things to change. While George is more aggressive and violent, Jess' mother is strong willed and easily disappointed. Bend it like Beckham has characters which represent certain attitudes to do with multiculturalism like the relationship between older and younger generations. It deals with a Sikh family in London while East is East has a Pakistani Muslim family who live in Manchester.
East is East deals with more issues like arranged marriages, circumcision, going to Bradford where the Asian population is much higher. Both films leave a positive and negative impression on audiences about multicultural Britain. They show that overall foreigners are welcome in the country and at the same time are allowed to recreate their own culture within their new environment. The films also portray the typical conduct of Asian families from generation to generation. The representation of multiculturalism in both films is powerful and unique.