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Doves’ new single ‘Kingdom of Rust’ is accompanied by an excellent video, which reflects where British social realism finds itself today.

It’s basically a condensed road-movie, in which a male protagonist drives an old Ford through the North of England, eventually arriving at Blackpool beach, where he spreads a pot of ashes. Its opening moments confirm that this promo is steeped in a poetic iconography of the nation that is increasingly visible in British screen culture: slow-mo footage captures a group of kids playing football, followed by tenderly static frames of factories against moody winter sunsets.

Its director China Moo Young, looks like one to watch. She is contracted to Sheffield’s Warp Films, and this video echoes Shane Meadows evocative portraits of working-class space in the Warp produced Dead Man’s Shoes and in his more recent Somers Town. The tender foregrounding of environment also finds parallels with films such as Andrea Arnold’s Red Road, and Duane Hopkin’s Better Things. In all these works narrative sits alongside conspicuous visual representations of place and location to give depth and scope to surface realism.

I’ve embedded the video for Doves’ ‘Black and White Town’ as well as ‘Kingdom of Rust’. Again, the state-of-the-nation lyrical content is reflected in a painterly gaze, which emphasizes notions of human isolation in relation to environment. Tellingly, this video was directed by Lynne Ramsey, director of the stunning Ratcatcher and Morvern Callar which can both be understood within the tradition of New Poetic Realism. I’ve also included the trailer for Somers Town, which shows the integration of this kind of style in feature filmmaking. 

By David Forrest


  1. Why do you think the video to Kingdoms of Rust is seemingly set in the past? It feels like its harking back to an aesthetic of the 80’s maybe, reluctant to engage with the current. A shame since (as you show) Somers Town is firmly rooted in a social-realist tradition without harking back.

    Talking of music videos, have you seen Meadows take on Richard Hawley’s Valentine? I’m not bowled over by it as its pretty kitsch. Odd considering the scope of possibility Hawley+Meadows should have.

    • Aha Walsh up in here! I was trying to keep the blog on the dlow for a bit, but my linkage to your excellent site has evidently revealed me!

      I think the car, and the general saturation, might indicate something of the past in the video. However, if we’re making the link with Meadows, then This is England does a similar thing (ie indulging in the iconography of the past, under the social realist umbrella).

      Yep, saw Valentine. Kind of funny, though not earth-shattering. Nice to spot some locations though!

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