They Had Skin On Their Heads

In times where Donald Trump is the president of the United States, the world seems to be turning upside down with racism and violence. Despite these are things I’m extremely against, my interest for the skinhead subculture is something that still fascinates me; specially about its origin that came from the british working-class in the 60’s, way before the nazi power wing rise through the 80’s. Such controversial subjects are, however, always part of the narrative of several movies about skinheads, but at the same time, a lot of them use the skinhead subculture as a form of scape for the misfits and troubled kids around the world. Here is an interesting list of films that talks about that.

THIS IS ENGLAND

This Is England (2006) by Shane Meadows

It was after I watched This Is England that I’ve realised how much the TV show Skins were inspired by this amazing coming of age british drama that tells the story of Shaun, a suburban kid from England that is bullied at school and ends up being friends of a gang of skinheads. Their gang, however, separates into two when an old friend comes out of prison with radical ideas about nationalism. Easily influenced, Shaun takes the side of the nationalist and discover the true meaning of friendship. Celebrating more the skinhead culture and the british youth than discussing any political opinion, This Is England is probably one of the best films about teenagers with shaved heads that ended up having several sequels as a TV show.

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Made In Britain (1982) by Alan Clark

Tim Roth debut as an actor happens in Made in Britain, where he starts as Trevor, a young skinhead that is sent to an educational program after he admits he is not sorry for the crimes he committed, such as not going to school and robbery. Expecting that the young man finds a job through this program, Trevor shows that he is not willing to collaborate, creating chaos and doing everything in his power to ruin people’s lives. Alan Clarke creates almost a study of chaos by creating a violet character whose joy is to bring hell to all people around him. Trevor’s motives are never explained and his storyline is never concluded, creating an interesting study of society and what is right and what is wrong.

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No Skin Off My Ass (1991) by Bruce LaBruce

Considered Kurt Cobain’s favourite movie, No Skin Off My Ass is Bruce LaBruce director’s debut; an experimental underground homoerotic movie inspired by Nick Knight’s Skinhead book. The absurd story is about a gay hairdresser who falls in love for a skinhead that he meets on the street. He then decides to invite him for a bath while the skinhead’s sister looks for him to make a movie. Without an actual plot, No Skin Off My Ass is almost a Bruce LaBruce dream-like interpretation of his gay desires for skinheads, featuring a lot of beautiful avant-garde nude scenes and a great soundtrack. A must watch!

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Meantime (1984) by Mike Leigh

Meantime is one of Mike Leigh’s first movies that talks about the social political and economic situation of the government of Margaret Thatcher. The only skinhead character of the movie is played by Gary Oldman, who not only appears in just a few scenes in the movie, but also ironically inspires a handicapped young man who lives with a family where all of them are unemployed to actually be someone. The skinhead’s friends, attitudes and life styles becomes a goal to be achieved in the eyes of the young man who is not taken seriously by anyone due to his illness. It’s a very different and poetic movie comparing to the other ones mentioned.

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French Blood (2014) by Diastème

French Blood is probably the weakest film of the list, however, it’s definitely the most realistic movie when it comes to the skinhead genre. Not letting the plot fall into the absurds of the neo-nazi white power, French Blood deals with it’s issues without sensationalism and approaches the subject with a realistic eye by telling the story of the rise and fall of a french man beliefs and how his acts as a young skinhead haunts him for the rest of his life from the early 90’s to the mid 2000’s. The most interesting thing of the movie is that the director is not interested on portraying his beliefs and how he realises he is wrong. Things happens as he grow up and the internal battle of the character is not shared with the spectator, only his choices and attitudes.