Shane Meadows, writer and director of ‘This is England’ (2006), creates a picture based upon his adolescence as a Skinhead in 1960’s England.
Set in the summer of 1983 in a desolate grey coastal town of England, Shane Meadows reflects his semi-autobiographical story around the main character Shaun (Thomas Turgoose), a twelve-year-old boy who struggles with pent-up anger over the tragic loss of his father who died as a serviceman in the Faklands War.
After his worst day at school being abused by his headmaster, Shaun meets his a group of skinheads, who soon become his new family. The head leader of the gang swoops him in with acceptance, showing him the excitement of disrupting society’s rules, and the gateways of releasing adrenalized anger through vandalism, drugs and sex. Shaun never felt more at home, and transitioned from being viewed as a poorly raised child and punk to society to the wisest beyond his years as a new member of the skinheads.
Considering his damaged childhood of immense violence and rejection as a twelve-year-old. Constantly dealing with the bullies at school and the grief of the loss of his father, Shaun doesn’t take any falsely colored fronts from anyone; a true punk with a heavy heart of resentment and anger towards society.
Shaun was taught the bible of the skinheads, learning to utilize his pent-up anger towards demonizing society and ruthlessly acting upon it. The root purpose of the skinheads was to have a form of ‘enemy’ to act towards, and once that started to diminish when the former neo-Nazi racist leader Combo was released from a three-year term in prison, Shaun’s original family started to grow smaller. Shaun’s addiction to be accepted and phobia of being alone caused him to become brainwashed by Combo’s neo-Nazi racist cult.
Shane Meadows relays this disruptive storyline of Neo-Nazi skins brainwashing a child to be completely charming; we view the film from Shaun’s perspective, and are emotionally stimulated and almost happy for Shaun that he is finally being shown sympathy for his losses, and being accepted and loved for his feelings of aggression towards ‘the other’.