What can a poor boy do? Representing poverty in British cinema

In this essay, I look at images of child poverty in four British films, all of them about boys, made across a period of almost six decades: Kes (Ken Loach, 1969); Ratcatcher (Lynne Ramsay, 1999); Billy Elliot (Stephen Daldry, 2000); and The Selfish Giant (Clio Barnard, 2013). I discuss the politics of these films, their ideas about escaping from poverty, and how far they can be said to represent the child’s point of view.

You can download the whole essay by clicking here, or if you want to read the illustrated version, click on the subheadings below to read the different sections:

  1. Representing poverty
  2. Kes
  3. Billy Elliot
  4. Ratcatcher
  5. The Selfish Giant
  6. Childhood, poverty and politics
  7. Sources and references