Despite having a drunken, abusive father and a brother who leads a local gang John McGill is a studious boy for whom a bright educational future seems to beckon. However his studiousness isolates him and when he is invited to join the gang it gives him a sense of belonging. However he becomes increasingly more violet, stabbing a boy in the neck, for which his brother is blamed and jailed, and dropping a breeze block on a rival gang leader, causing him permanent brain damage. John is temporarily thrown out of his home by his mother and suspended from school though when he is readmitted he is placed in the remedial class. John now has no interest in education but in being the top boy amongst the NEDS or non-educated delinquents. He is invincible, and even the lions at the local safari park let him pass without attacking him. Written by
don @ minifie-1
The film uses "Non-Educated DelinquentS" as a "backronym" for "neds" as it is commonly used in modern day Scotland since the 90s. The English equivalent is chav. Many people including police officials and politicians (including famously Rosie Kane MSP) have discussed the term ned using this definition. As the term ned has been used far longer and dates back to the 19th century according to the OED it is not proven that this is the true origin of the term. See more »
Teachers were not allowed to smoke in classrooms in the mid-1970s. See more »
You can copy what you're missed off one of your classmates - that is, if they're not intimidated by your superior intellect.
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Growing up in inner city Glasgow in the Seventies, gangs are ubiquitous. The stories of stabbings and kickings have an awful, magnetic allure. Jimmy Boyle, mythologised by his lack of presence due to incarceration, like an Anti-Mandela figure, is the archetypal hardman in a town still nicknamed No Mean City. Glasgow's Miles Better has yet to be thought of. And school is not where you learn, it is where you survive.
Like Lynne Ramsey's Ratcatcher, Neds resonates with Glaswegians born in the Sixties who grew up in this mayhem, and now look at it with the benefit of age and distance and wonder how we ever took it for normality.
John is the academically gifted younger brother of a locally respected/ feared ned. His father is mostly missing or drunk, his mother struggles to cope. Like many Scots, the family role model is the one who has exiled herself. Joe's big brother Benny (a charismatic Joe Szula) provides a buffer between him and the worst of the violence - but also gives him a free pass towards initiation. Mean, visceral humiliation from local bully Kanta propels John away from study and towards Benny's sphere of influence. After many trials and betrayals, John survives that, till another humiliation at the point of a crossbow pushes him again to the brink.
Cinematically, Mullen is playful and challenging here. The director says Kubrick and Peckinpah were evoked in keeping with the time; the duct taping of knives to hands is pure Peckinpah, and the juxtaposition of foot-tapping music with jaw-breaking violence recalls Kubrick. The ending is big canvas cinema, but it worked for me. There is also a lovely rhythm here, the gangs running toward and away from each other more often than not. That's how I remember it in Maryhill - big boys always running after or away from other big boys.
Drunk Dads (Mullen in an acting career best), Bolan, six of the belt, winchin' up the graveyard, change on the buses, Provvie cheques - I loved it. But then I grew up with it. Outside Glasgow, and a certain generation, this might be more difficult to access. It will do better in Europe and Asia where the subtitles will help, and the essential coming-of-age story will rise to the fore more.
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