The two films will be discussed in terms of comparison and how they vary in there representations of Britain. One will be a will be a romantic comedy, Bridget Jones Diary, with scenes of white middle class couples inhabiting well to do areas of London and England discussing such important issues as laser hair removal brentwood. There will be references to British heritage and what Andrew Higson refers to as invented tradition. The opposing film is a British comedy My Beautiful Laundrette, that follows the idea of realism. There will be scenes of multicultural working class London. Both these films connote similar themes, for example romantic relationships, work and unemployment, however the two films deal with these social issues in very different ways. Bridget Jones Diary appears to lack any acknowledgment of the differing cultures, classes and races that inhabit the UK, however My Beautiful Laundrette uses these as key themes throughout the film. These differences can be explained in terms of the type of British cinema they fill into, for example national films or post- national films.
Although the films are seen to oppose each other, some critics have suggested that Bridget Jones Diary was influenced by and was produced in the “spirit of My Beautiful Laundrette”. They have similarities in terms of plot, the use of British humour however explore these in different means. My Beautiful Laundrette focuses on immigrants in London, deals with homosexual relations, cross cultural relationships and the reactions of different classes and races to these situations. Bridget Jones Dairy deals specifically with heterosexual relationships of white middle class Londoners and appears to ignore people of other races and of different cultures.
Bridget Jones Diary follows ideas that tradition and heritage are inherited from past generations. Higson suggests that this approach to British culture ignores invented, imposed or imported traditions. For example the great ‘British’ tradition of the cup of tea only exists as a consequence of colonialisation. In contrast to this film My Beautiful Laundrette represents contemporary cinema that critiques traditional British cinema of Bridget Jones Diary. Higson would describe this film as post- national as the film does not depict Britain as a whole but denotes a local area of London and the cultural divides that exist.
The traditions depicted throughout Bridget Jones Diary can be argued by Higson to be invented. The film is inventing the antiquity of Britain and her traditions. For example this can be seen in the scenes where Bridget and Hugh Grant go for a weekend away in the country or at the engagement party of Colin Firth. They both have links to the way in which heritage films connote their strong links to British national cultural traditions, especially ruralistic traditions. My Beautiful Laundrette does the opposite of this, the traditions seen throughout the film are not inherent, they do not attempt to beautify Britain or connote a fake sense of antiquity. The film follows the idea of realism and portrays the dark and depressing side of London. For example the mis-en-scene in the film connotes small cramped living conditions of the working class,where in comparison to Bridget Jones Diary the living conditions are of lush apartments in Notting Hill or stately homes in the country.
Bridget Jones Diary represents the homogeneity of British culture. The film nationalises the questions of community, culture and identity. Family stability is a product of traditions, this can be seen with the opening of the film denoting Christmas at the Jones’; family and friends coming together due to traditions. The film also promotes the idea of the nuclear family, throughout Bridget’s mother is on a quest to find herself, to denounce her normal life and find excitement with a new man. However eventually she realises her mistakes and Bridget’s parents reconcile their differences and stay together. Higson has however suggested that the film engages with heterogeneity. For example the story line of the mother running off with another man, or that the film was a French British collaboration with the lead character being played by an American. This reflects the developments that occurred in British cinema throughout the 1920’s and onwards, businesses began to explore a Pan-European cinema, films became transnational. Even the demographics of the film connote the global audience of this film.
My Beautiful Laundrette however represents the heterogeneity of British culture. The film reflects the shift in British cinema, that Higson suggests was inevitable due to changes in economy, politics, social and cultural landscapes of Britain. The film connotes this as it follows both white English and Asian English in a struggle against unemployment during the Thatcherite years. The film also depicts subcultures of England based on ethnicity, youth styles and the way they respond to local. circumstances. This is denoted in the film by a group of racist ‘fascist’ punks that constantly remind Johny (Danial Day Lewis) that the man he works for is an immigrant. The film brilliant expresses an opposing view of stability of identity and security of family to that of Bridget Jones Diary; as it shows them as a product of circumstances rather then tradition. For example when Omar visits his uncles house, his uncles daughter states how long its been since they had seen each other. This connotes to audiences that if Omar had not been profitable to his uncle’s business he would not have seen his cousins.
John Hill however would suggest the My beautiful Laundrette could be a national film like Bridget Jones Diary, as the film is still sensitive to social and cultural differences. Higson contradicts this suggesting the Hill take Britishness for granted. Hill glosses over the questions of community, culture, belonging and identity by using terms of ‘Nationally specific” and “Identifiably British”. Higson believes that national films can also be regional or transnational.
The production of both of these films see collaborations between different countries, cultures and races. For example Bridget Jones Diary was a British French collaboration. My Beautiful Laundrette however represents the diverse culture of Britain both on screen and off screen. The writer, Hanif Kureishi collaborated with English director Stephen Frears. Hanif Kureishi was pioneering in the 1980’s with his production of, what Robert Murphy calls Black films. He believes the “Black writers have a responsibility to their own imaginations” He wished to show how London was a “playground for immigrant communities, the place where they could try anything once.” This theme is brilliantly connoted throughout My Beautiful Laundrette.
Both films can be said to connote British cinema as a social institution. The issues dealt with throughout both films are relevant to society. They deal with similar problems, but how they effect different classes and races. They may not be national or post-national films but they contribute to society and its varying cultures. The issues of relationships (both romantic and plutonic), work, money and family bonds are incorporated in to both films and are dealt with in different ways.