As a measure of I, Daniel Blake’s impact, this weekend the French daily, Le Monde, devoted a whole page to an interview with the sociologist of poverty Nicolas Duvoux. about Ken Loach’s film.
He noted just how much the French system had become like the nightmare described in the picture (it might help that the French word for “sanction” is, er, la sanction).
At the end the interviewer asked if Loach’s call for a debate on these system, and the misery caused by miserly social security, could take place in France.
The answer was that Duvoux doubted it: people had become blinded to the existence of poverty. They blame the poor for being poor.
UNITE the union says,
We are all Daniel Blake
Our hope is that this film will spark a national debate and build public support for a fairer social security system for people in and out of work – just like Ken Loach’s Cathy Come Home shifted the political agenda on housing in this country in the 1960s.
The scary thing is that what happens to Daniel could happen to anyone of us. How would you cope with being made redundant? Or falling ill? How long would your savings last? The British welfare state has helped millions of people get back on their feet in times of need – a safety net for those that fall on hard times – to need it isn’t a moral failing #WeAreAllDanielBlake.
We note that the Evening Standard’s review is headed, “Ken Loach’s grim portrait of Britain tells us that state bureaucracy is a horror and that welfare rules humiliate claimants, but nothing that we didn’t know already, says David Sexton.”
Sexton peppers his article with further sneers,
Big-hearted Dan, forgetting his own troubles, takes them in hand, fixing their cistern, leaving them some money for the electric, putting up one of his mobiles, getting little Dylan talking. And he takes Katie to the local food bank, where the poor girl is so hungry she breaks down and, while scooping things off the shelves, opens a tin, possibly of spaghetti rings, there and then and begins eating it with her hands. Worse, when she finds the food bank doesn’t do sanitary towels, she shoplifts some — and the store’s security guard spots her as ripe for going on the game, a further neo-capitalist degradation.
Loach, 80 now, is such an undeviating and old-fashioned Marxist that it has been fascinating to observe the rapprochement between his own special Left purity, disregarding all contradictory history, and Jeremy Corbyn’s, ditto.
And lo! Corbyn went along to the premiere this very week, posing alongside Loach in front of boards saying “Deaths due to sanctions and benefit cuts RIP”, and kneeling to add his own graffiti to that of Daniel Blake. Next day, he posted on Facebook: “If there’s one thing you do this year, go and see I, Daniel Blake. I went to see it last night and it’s one of the most moving films I’ve seen.” Historically inevitable, really.
Yet, by contrast the Daily Telegraph has a sensitive and intelligent review, Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake is a quietly fearsome piece of drama.
At the age of 80, Loach is still calling things as he sees them – and a late speech delivered by a homeless ‘wise fool’ in front of a Jobcentre Plus, which takes in everything from food banks and the bedroom tax to “that baldy twat Iain Duncan Whatshisface”, lays out his manifesto with an appealing belligerence. This film treads fearsomely complex, splintery terrain – and the more complex it acknowledges it to be, the better.
Even the Sun comments,
While many people shudder at the thought of his gritty, sometimes sentimentalised portraits of working-class life, they often forget how funny the films can be.
There are jokes – Loach often casts comedians, including John Bishop and now Dave Johns – and uses laughter to lighten the drama.
UNITE, to continue, says,
1. Please go and see this film – and tell your friends to see it too, on general release on 21 October.
2. Share your story – if you’ve ever been sanctioned or affected by any of the issues in I,Daniel Blake then we want to hear from you. Please share your story in the form below.
3.Tell a Tory to see this film – every single MP needs to see this film, (particularly the Tories!). Help them understand that our benefits’ system isn’t working. Email and tweet yours now, enter your postcode below to get started.
4. Unite Community has been campaigning against benefit sanctions right from the start -to find out more about the campaign visit the NoSanctions page.
5. Spread the message on social media- everybody needs to see this film. Join the conversation on the I, Daniel Blake Facebook and Twitter pages tagging #WeareallDanielBlake
Apart from the numerous clips I have not yet seen I, Daniel Blake, for reasons which are pretty obvious.
Like lots of us lot I have seen too much of Daniel Blake in real life.
But I hope from the depths of my guts that the film helps change things.