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"Black Mirror" The National Anthem (2011)

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22 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

Thought provoking and emotional. Great performances.

10/10
Author: Chiffmonkey from United Kingdom
4 December 2011

BC UK, quite clearly you're not one for viewing between the lines. The point of this film is not it's plot but it's implications for just how plausible this event is, and just how little privacy or control of information we have these days. It's an 'open your eyes' kind of film.

Superb acting, writing and camera-work. The choice of people to show as 'joe average's were well thought out and don't seem clichéd. Also the setup is genius in it's simplicity. Genuinely thought provoking TV.

My only criticism is of the ending which I think should have ended with the 'twist' regarding the kidnap, with the reaction from the PM's wife put beforehand. Then again I don't know how that could make chronological sense.

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9 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

And this little piggy went . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ?

9/10
Author: tyler-and-jack from Edinburgh.
31 December 2011

Black Mirror was a selection of three tales linked by the idea of modern technology and just what the implications of our constant progress and ease of communication and media selection could be.

In the first tale, "The National Anthem", we have a particularly twisted look at just how people can nowadays get access to information and spread it around to the detriment of anyone wanting to keep a secret. The Prime Minister (Rory Kinnear) is put in a preposterous and awful situation when the sweetheart of the nation, a young Princess, is kidnapped. The Prime Minister is supposed to acquiesce to an absurd and horrific demand if the young lady is to be released unharmed but he hopes that the situation can be resolved before the deadline. The video of the demand cannot be kept secret - it was uploaded onto YouTube. The plans by the government to outwit the criminal tend to keep being spoiled by people texting each other or posting messages on Twitter. And the Prime Minister finds himself being constantly frustrated by a media that can make him loved or loathed depending on the spin given to the situation.

With a fantastic punchline that hammers home everything seen beforehand, "The National Anthem" makes for uncomfortable viewing even as it takes things over the edge and seems to tip into the comical (albeit comical in a blacker than black humoured way). Despite the implausibility of the situation being played out, there are far too many elements that are already all too easy to believe.

The cast are all very good (Rory Kinnear and Anna Wilson-Jones excelling as the husband and wife living at Number 10 when this horrible situation unfolds) and the direction by Otto Bathurst is just fine but this is definitely most easily recognised as coming from the acerbic pen of Charlie Brooker (a most talented writer and keen observer of the mounting inanity proliferating through every section of modern society). Fans of Brooker will certainly enjoy this piece but everyone should give it a watch, if only to remind themselves to perhaps not update their Facebook status with everything that they see around them.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

National Anthem: Darkly comic, thrillingly real and soberingly honest

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
15 June 2013

Although I love Charlie Brooker and heard nothing but good things about this show, it took me well over a year to get around to watching it. Without knowing more than people saying it was good, I sat to watch this first episode really not even knowing if it were a drama, a satire, a comedy or what it was. In the end I was very glad to come to this with no knowledge and it turned out that as a genre it really defies definition because it does so much at the same time and does it so well.

The episode opens with the Prime Minister woken by news that a young female member of the Royal family has been kidnapped and has released a video demand. The nature of this demand is the whole episode and it is darkly comic when it is revealed. At this point I thought the episode might lose the tension that it had in its early scenes but in reality it doesn't – it maintains it through the duration and all events. The ridiculousness of it all never goes away but the race against time is thrilling and really drew me in. My curiosity and my inability to look away from the screen mirrors the public in the episode and it is cleverly done in the way that it doesn't judge the reality of the news networks, the social media and the public – it simply lets it happen in a realistic way, the viewer is left to make their own unavoidable judgment and it is all the more sobering for being totally realistic.

The acting is great. There are lots of faces you will know from much lighter shows (In The Thick of It particularly) but they never let it become a comedy and they all sell every bit of it. The performances and the dramatic direction are really key in making the concept work and it works very effectively. As an episode it is not only very difficult to describe but also best not described and approached with no prior knowledge but it is well worth checking out for what it does.

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Rather a pig

3/10
Author: chesterfieldj from United Kingdom
11 December 2013

Knowing Charlie Brooker I expected cynical, dark and dare I say it mildly thought provoking.. Unfortunately 'Black Mirror: The National Anthem' is heinously cynical, dark and seriously trashy. Hence I feel this equally negative review should counteract Charlie Brooker's remorseless portrayal of humankind. From the off, the only character I sympathise with is the prime minister's aid, questioning the plausibility of the princess' unconvincing dramatics. The poor acting and constant spelling out of every potential nuance of the plot unearths the already questionable storyline as the short lived teenage horror film it is. Masquerading as a contemplative assessment of modern media, in reality only to be enjoyed by giggling fifteen year olds indulging themselves in the tasteless ridiculousness of this pretence of grandeur.

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5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Truly Terrible Script

1/10
Author: virgilthechicken
12 November 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

First off, I want to make it clear that my problems are with the script of the show not the execution of that script. The actors are fantastic and the show is shot very well. Too bad all of that was wasted on the plot.

Another reviewer, bc_uk2003, got it absolutely right. I don't know what planet the positive reviews are coming from. Spoilers ahead! The prime minister of the United Kingdom, one of the most powerful people in the world, has sex with a pig on live television. He does this for over an hour and everyone watches it. None of that would never happen. There is no explanation that makes that plausible. None.

I understand that this is supposed to be satire, but it is certainly not presented in a satirical way. It is completely deadpan throughout, and everything is presented soberly and unflinchingly. This is like someone making a film of A Modest Proposal where poor people actually sell their children to the rich, who then actually butcher and eat them in the most macabre and realistic way possible. It crosses the line from satire to offensive, from thought provoking to crude.

I had high hopes for this series from the buzz I've been hearing about it. This episode, however, only provokes thoughts of how it got to air and how so many people seem to have enjoyed watching it.

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5 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Brilliantly observed comedy, up there with the best!

10/10
Author: fustbariclation from South Africa
9 December 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'm really looking forward to the next of this series. It's brilliantly observed and very, very funny. It has, of course, a good many important points to make - it shows the instinctive dishonesty of the civil servants, the force for good that the internet is in making such dishonesty more difficult. It has echoes of 'Yes, Minister', but it is funnier.

The question that is evident, but not tackled explicitly is why the life of a country pet, pampered and useless is considered a more serious matter than the life of the over 100,000 civilians, real living people, not kept pets, killed by the war in Iraq. Why not just let the silly bint die?

I hope that future episodes explore this sort of thing - and deal with some important plot points. Apart from being illegal, bestiality is unkind to the beast. What about the feelings of animals? Even more fundamentally, how would somebody not used to it manage the requisite arousal? Doesn't that suggest something of a secret yearning in the Prime Minister? Had he, perhaps, known ( in the biblical sense ) the pig before? No attempt was made to introduce him to the animal to make friends before the act, it was simply rape. I'd be interested, too, to know what became of the animal afterwards - you'd have thought that it's bacon might fetch a premium - 'as touched by the PM'.

I haven't laughed so much for a very long time - it was pure tonic for the soul.

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12 out of 58 people found the following review useful:

Absolutely awful!

1/10
Author: bc_uk2003 from United Kingdom
4 December 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The plot is basically: a Princess is kidnapped and the kidnapper demands that the Prime Minister has sex with a pig on live TV - What a joke!

The plot is so thin that you can't even forgive the lack of reality within the script. For example, the Princess supposedly has her finger cut off, but later it is revealed that the finger is from the kidnapper. Does it not come to the script writer's/ author's mind that a male's finger and female's finger would be different? Notwithstanding DNA testing. Also what happened to the 'sniff upper lip' from the Royals? So why would the Princess beg and beg for mercy like a spoilt brat celebrity? I could go on, but it is pointless as this was one of the worst screen dramas ever!

This programme made The Human Centipede look reasonable!

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