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The Spirit of '45 (2013)

A documentary on how the spirit of unity, which buoyed Britain during the war years, carried through to create a vision of a fairer, united society.


Ken Loach


Ken Loach
2 nominations. See more awards »


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Credited cast:
Winston Churchill ... Himself (archive footage)
Clement Attlee Clement Attlee ... Himself (archive footage)
Tony Benn Tony Benn ... Himself - Labour Minister
Aneurin Bevan Aneurin Bevan ... Himself - Minister of Health (archive footage)
James Meadway James Meadway ... Himself - Senior Economist, National Economists Foundation
Terry Teague Terry Teague ... Himself - Former Dock Shop Steward
George Lansbury George Lansbury ... Himself - Labour Politician (archive footage)
Dai Walters Dai Walters ... Himself - Miner
Margaret Battin Margaret Battin ... Herself - Nurse
Inky Thomson Inky Thomson ... Himself - Miner and NUM Official
Douglas Jay Douglas Jay ... Himself - Personal Assistant to the Prime Minister, 1945 (archive footage)
Harry Keen Harry Keen ... Himself - Consultant Physician (as Professor Harry Keen)
Ray Jackson Ray Jackson ... Himself - Train Driver
Dot Gibson Dot Gibson ... Herself - General Secretary, National Pensioners' Convention
Tony Nelson Tony Nelson ... Himself - Former Dock Shop Steward


A documentary on how the spirit of unity, which buoyed Britain during the war years, carried through to create a vision of a fairer, united society.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Release Date:

15 March 2013 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

'45 Ruhu See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital
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User Reviews

As to be expected extremely one-sided but well crafted.
2 July 2013 | by csrothwecSee all my reviews

An excellent film in terms of explaining both what the title says, "The Spirit of 1945" leading to the massive victory of the Labour Party in the UK general election of that year and also the roots of that victory. Loach (correctly) goes back to the end of the First World War and how the promises of "A Land fit for Heroes" was betrayed and millions of working men and their families instead spent most of the inter-war years (not just the so-called "Hungry Thirties") living in poverty and destitution. Their children were determined to build a better Britain and, as Loach shows, this feeling was also shared by many people from much wealthier backgrounds as well (in which bodies during the war such as the Army Bureau of Contemporary Affairs also played a significant role). Loach does not shy away from showing the weaknesses of the Labour Government's policies (e.g. very much "top down" and with no trace of the kind of Mitbestimmung which helped to rebuild West German industry in the same period), but he nevertheless paints far too positive a picture of what Attlee's governments actually achieved.

By going straight from this period (1945-51) to the arrival of "the Wicked Witch" (Thatcher) in Downing Street in 1979, he is able to skate right over how much the Labour Government had NOT accomplished and just how rotten much of British industry and society was by the early-/mid-1970s (and which provided the environment in which Thatcher could only have come to power.) The short-sightedness of union leaders, for example, in focusing purely and simply on short-term economic gain for their members and rejecting totally Castle's "In Place of Strife" proposlas plus "holding the public to ransom" on unlimited occasions in the 1960s and 1970s is simply ignored as not fitting in with the polemic.

In conclusion, watch this film to explain why the Labour election landslide happened, but if you want to know "what happened next", watch the 1959 comedy "I'm all right,Jack" as well. For every stalwart nurse and miner shown in Loach's film, there were unfortunately far too many "Fred Kites" leading their unions in the years after Attlee left office as well!

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