3 July 2013

PRESSURE (Dir. Horace Ove, 1975, UK) - Diasporic Discontent


Pressure is a British film firmly embedded in the discourse of Black British screen representations. Horace Ove's Pressure was Britain's first Black feature film and while it is clearly a film of its time, the exploration of racial tensions in a changing Britain still resonates with an affecting clarity. Particularly interesting is Ove's ability to critique the limitations of Black militancy, drawing out painful contradictions which lead to a position in which racism is equated with a wider economic disparity linked specifically to a perpetual class struggle. In many ways, it is the film's understanding of hegemony which makes the ideological debate prescient in a contemporary Britain that continues to witness a privileged elite shape not only the interests of a nation but also bamboozle the masses with moral panics concerning an invisible Other. A defining moment is when Anthony, the disillusioned and excluded black teenager, tells his parents a truth which they would rather not hear; that their attempts at economic/social mobility, civil obedience and assimilation are indicative of an unconscious racial inferiority. Once Anthony has made clear his refusal to be subjugated any longer, his anger is echoed by his father who also speaks out against his wife for her selfish desire to be viewed as part of a white 'middle class'. Most striking in this 'speaking out' by the father is his longing for his homeland, The Caribbean, and being forced to leave for a false aspiration that will never be achieved. Pressure may in fact have been the first film to articulate the anxieties of an emerging Diaspora from The Carribean, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Although Pressure is a defining statement on race relations in Britain, it is also quintessentially a brilliant piece of filmmaking. Researching Pressure has led me to discover Ove made a number of pieces for television that extend his interests in race, identity and the Diaspora.

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