Ken Loach - director of the films such as The Wind That Shakes The Barley and Kes - casts his eye over the introduction of socialism by The Labour Party in England following World War Two. Starting off with accounts of the deep, unrelenting poverty that was strangling the entire nation, with most people still reeling from the aftermath of World War One, it moves forward to tell the tale of a country coming together with a sense of mass community. Managing to get England up on its feet again financially, we see how the government at the time nationalized institutions such as the post office, the train service, the water works, the power stations… every type of infrastructure a country needs to run, and how this government ran them well.
Managing to be rose-tinted while entirely in black and white, Loach presents us a series of talking heads from some people who were around at the time, who look back at post-war Britain as the best time of their lives. The rest is grainy, black and white footage shot at the time - no reconstructions here! - that really gives a sense of how immersed Loach is in his project.
The problem is that while giving us a lot of information, he forgot to present it in any kind of interesting way, with the documentary wavering back and forth between depressing and kind of boring. Interest picks up a bit towards the end, when Margaret Thatcher is introduced as the greatest villain the English economy has ever seen. Her government's privatisation is portrayed to have sent everyone Capitalist-crazy, and as the most likely reason why there's another economic depression right now.
In fairness, this particular topic was never going to be an easy sell, but Loach has delivered it entirely unfairly, with his documentary filled solely with pro-Socialist anti-Capitalists, and no-one around to present a counter-argument. There may well be some interesting, intelligent points to be made in The Spirit Of '45, but unfortunately they're in a semi-dull, completely biased movie.