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This clip from the 1948 film Oliver Twist makes an important comment about the kind of Britain Labour was trying to create after the Second World War. The film's director, David Lean, was a passionate supporter of Labour's plans to create the Welfare State. He used this film as a way of supporting Labour's plans, associating the worst of the Victorian era with the years before Labour came to power.
1. How is Oliver treated in this extract?
2. What is this treatment trying to say about Britain in 1948?
3. Look carefully at how the workhouse boys are filmed. How has Lean used the lighting to associate a past dark period with an even darker period from the war?
4. Which groups in society do you think this film would have had the most impact on?
5. How could a Labour Party activist have used this film to promote support for Labour's plans for a welfare state?
Duration: 0:01:19Audio: Sound of plates and eating, silence
Long tables full of children eating very fast. They finish and everyone becomes silent. They all watch as Oliver boy finishes the last of his food then he looks at his empty bowl and the others watch him. The boy next to him nudges him with his elbow; he looks at a man standing nearby holding a cane. He gets up with his empty bowl and walks slowly to the end of the long hall towards the man holding the wipe, while the others watch in silence. He stands in front of him holding his empty bowl up, the other children watch on, they look scared.
Oliver: "Please Sir, I want some more."
The man shouts in disbelief: "What?!"
Audio: Loud dramatic music plays in background.
Another younger man, who appears to be a guard, looks shocked.