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69 Must-See Great British Drama Films.

best British Films of all time.

69 British drama films you must see before you die.

Compiling any film related list is never an exact science and no doubt to some we’ve left out some real stonkers! But as always it’s all about opinions and we’d love to hear yours. If you want to tell us your best British drama films then please leave your comments at the bottom of the page.

Out of the 69 British drama films the top director with four entries is David Lean and if we had been able to include Dr Zhivago as a British film production he would have had five entries. Runners-up with 3 entries a piece are Ken Loach and the legendry Stanley Kubrick, followed by Steve McQueen, Shane Meadows, Neil Jordan, Mike Leigh, Michael Powell, Lynne Ramsay, Danny Boyle, Carol Reed, Anthony Minghella, John Boorman and Andrea Arnold all with two entries respectively.

All 69 British drama films add up to a total of 8148 minutes or 5 days, 15 Hours and 47 minutes of footage, giving an average film length of 118 minutes. The longest being Lawrence of Arabia at a whopping 216 minutes, leaving David Lean’s 86 minute romance a real ‘Brief Encounter’.

RED ROAD - Kate Dickie

69) RED ROAD (2006)

Directed by Andrea Arnold 

Running Time 113mins 

Cert 18

Jackie (Katie Dickie) works as a CCTV operator in Glasgow. Each day she watches over a small part of the world, protecting the people living their lives under her gaze. One day a man appears on her monitor, whom she thought she would never see again, whom she never wanted to see again. Now that she has no choice, she is compelled to confront him.

A deeply heartfelt British film that deservedly garnered Arnold the Prix du Jury prize at Cannes, Red Road is a raw but beautifully observed account of tragedy, grief and atonement. 

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The Flying Scotsman - cyclist Graeme Obree

​ 68) THE FLYING SCOTSMAN (2006)

Directed By Douglas Mackinnon 

Running Time 96 mins

Cert PG

Based on a remarkable true story, THE FLYING SCOTSMAN is an out-and-out inspirational, against-all-odds, crowd pleasing British film, which follows the turbulent life of cyclist Graeme Obree, who broke the World One Hour record on a bike of his own revolutionary design, constructed out of scrap metal...

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Sweet Sixteen -  Ken Loach

67) SWEET SIXTEEN (2002)

Directed By  Ken Loach

Running Time 106 mins 

Cert 15

Determined to have a normal family life once his mother gets out of prison, a Scottish teenager from a tough background sets out to raise the money for a home.

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Ratcatcher (1999) Lynne Ramsay

​ 66) Ratcatcher (1999)

Directed By Lynne Ramsay

Running Time 94 mins 

Cert 15

Set in Glasgow during the mid 70s, Ratcatcher is seen through the eyes of twelve-year-old James Gillespie (William Eadie), a young boy haunted by a secret. Feeling increasingly distant from his family, his only escape comes with the discovery of a new housing development on the outskirts of town where he has the freedom to lose himself in his own world.

TYRANNOSAUR - Paddy Considine

​ 65) TYRANNOSAUR (2011)

Directed By Paddy Considine 

Running time 92 mins 

Cert 18

It follows the story of two lonely, damaged people brought together by circumstance. Joseph (Peter Mullan, WAR HORSE, NEDS) is an unemployed widower, drinker, and a man crippled by his own volatile temperament and furious anger. Hannah (Olivia Colman, HOT FUZZ, PEEP SHOW) is a Christian worker at a charity shop, a respectable woman who appears wholesome and happy. When the pair are brought together, Hannah appears as Joseph’s potential saviour, someone who can temper his fury and offer him warmth, kindness and acceptance.As their story develops Hannah’s own secrets are revealed — her relationship with husband James (Eddie Marsan, HAPPY GO LUCKY, SHERLOCK HOLMES) is violent and abusive — and as events spiral out of control, Joseph becomes her source of succour and comfort.

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FISH TANK - Andrea Arnold

64) FISH TANK (2009)

Directed By Andrea Arnold 

Running Time 123 mins

Cert 15

A powerful and contemporary coming of age British film, from the director of Red Road. Fish Tank is the story of Mia (Katie Jarvis), a volatile 15-year-old, who is always in trouble and who has become excluded from school and ostracised by her friends. One hot summer's day her mother (Keirston Wareing) brings home a mysterious stranger called Connor (Michael Fassbender) who promises to change everything and bring love into all their lives. Touching on the themes of her Academy Award® winning short Wasp, Fish Tank is an original and unsettling tale for our age. 

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EXCALIBUR - John Boorman

63) EXCALIBUR (1981)

Directed By John Boorman 

Running Time 140 mins 

Cert 15

The legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table receives its most impressive screen treatment in Excalibur, from visionary movie maker John Boorman. All the elements of Sir Thomas Malory's classic Le Morte D'Arthur are here: Arthur removing the sword Excalibur from the stone; the Round Table's noble birth and tragic decline; the heroic attempts to recover the Holy Grail; and the shifting balance of power between wily wizard Merlin and evil sorceress Morgana. With Patrick Stewart, Gabriel Byrne and Liam Neeson in notable early screen roles, Excalibur serves up, as The New Yorker's Pauline Kael wrote, "one lush, enraptured scene after another".

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HOPE AND GLORY - John Boorman

62) HOPE AND GLORY (1987)

Directed By John Boorman 

Running Time 113 mins 

Cert 15

Beginning just before the start of the Second World War, the film tells the story of the Rowan family: Bill, his sisters Sue and Dawn, and his parents Grace and Clive, living in a suburb of London. After the war starts, Clive joins the army, leaving Grace alone to watch over the children.

Seen through the eyes of 10-year-old Bill, the "fireworks" provided by the Blitz every night are as exciting as they are terrifying. His family do not see things in quite the same way as the bombs continue to drop, but their will to survive brings them closer together. The nightly raids do not provide the only drama, however, as his older sister, Dawn, falls for a Canadian soldier, becomes pregnant and finding her life turned upside down, soon discovers the value of her family. The family eventually moves to the Thames-side home of Grace's parents when their house burns down (not in an air raid, but in an ordinary fire). This provides an opportunity for Bill to spend more time with his curmudgeonly grandfather.

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NIL BY MOUTH has the most use of the word Cunt in a film

61) NIL BY MOUTH (1997)

Directed by Gary Oldman 

Running Time 128 mins 

Cert 18

In a working class London district lives Raymond, his wife Valerie, her brother Billy, Valerie and Billy's mother Janet, and their grandmother Kath. Billy is a drug addict whom Raymond kicks out. The family is dysfunctional due to Raymond's short temper and violent outbursts. 

This hard hitting British drama contains 82 uses of the word cunt and 482 uses of the word Fuck.  

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60) THIS IS ENGLAND (2006)

Directed By Shane Meadows 

Running Time 118 mins 

Cert 18

This is England tells the story of Shaun, an 11-year-old kid growing up without a father in the north of England. Set during the summer holidays of 1983, we chart his rights of passage from shaggy haired ruffian grieveing the loss of his father, into a shaven headed thug who's anger and pain are embraced by the local skinhead fraternity and ultimately the National Front. With a shell for a mother and no father to guide him, Shaun seems set for certain destruction. 

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 Shallow Grave, Danny Boyle, Ewan McGregor, Crime, Thriller

​​59) SHALLOW GRAVE (1994)

Directed By Danny Boyle 

Running Time 92 mins

Cert 18

Gory British thriller set in Edinburgh and produced by the team responsible for 'Trainspotting'. Three yuppie flatmates (Kerry Fox, Christopher Eccleston and Ewan McGregor) advertise for a fourth person to join them in their swanky apartment. They end up with a mysterious man (Keith Allen) who promptly dies in his bed of a drug overdose, leaving a million pounds cash in a suitcase under his bed. The greedy threesome then agrees to dispose of the body and keep the loot. However, this means cutting off the hands and feet of the body, smashing the teeth, and finally burying it in the woods. They also ignore the rightful owners of the money, remaining unaware that those owners are, along with the police, hot on their trail.

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HUNGER - Steve McQueen

58) HUNGER (2008)

Directed By Steve McQueen 

Running Time 96 mins 

Cert 15

Hunger stars Michael Fassbender as Bobby Sands, the Irish Republican activist who led the 1981 prison hunger strike and participated in the "dirty" strike in which Republican prisoners tried to win political status... 

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MY NAME IS JOE - Ken Loach

57) MY NAME IS JOE (1998)

Directed By Ken Loach 

Running Time 105 mins 

Cert 15

Another hard-hitting British drama from Ken Loach. Recovering alcoholic Joe Kavanagh (Peter Mullan) is out of work, but spends his time coaching the local football team. When he goes to pick up team member Liam (David McKay), he meets social worker Sarah Downie (Louise Goodall). Although they clash at first, the pair are soon involved in a relationship. Joe learns from Sarah that Liam and his wife, Sabine (Annemarie Kennedy), owe money to local gangster McGowan (David Hayman). In an attempt to help Liam pay off his debt, Joe agrees to do three drugs runs for McGowan. However, his relationship with Sarah suffers when she finds out what he has done.

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56) THE MAGDALENE SISTERS (2002)

Directed By Peter Mullan 

Running Time 119 mins 

Cert 15 

The triumphant story of three extraordinary women whose courage to defy a century of injustice would inspire a nation. While women’s liberation sweeps the globe, in 1960s Ireland four “fallen” women are stripped of their liberty and dignity and condemned to indefinite servitude in the Magdalene Laundries, where they’ll work to atone for their “sins.”

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NOWHERE BOY - the story of a young John Lennon

55) NOWHERE BOY (2009)

Directed By Sam Taylor-Johnson

Running Time 98 mins 

Cert 15 

A chronicle of John Lennon's first years, focused mainly in his adolescence and his relationship with his stern aunt Mimi, who raised him, and his absentee mother Julia, who re-entered his life at a crucial moment in his young life.

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A Field In England - Ben Wheatley

54) A FIELD IN ENGLAND (2013)

Directed By Ben Wheatley 

Running Time 90 mins 

Cert 15

England during the English Civil War. A small group of deserters flee from a raging battle through an overgrown field. They are captured by two men: O'Neil and Cutler. O'Neil (Michael Smiley), an alchemist, forces the group to aid him in his search to find a hidden treasure that he believes is buried in the field. Crossing a vast mushroom circle, which provides their first meal, the group quickly descend into a chaos of arguments, fighting and paranoia, and, as it becomes clear that the treasure might be something other than gold, they slowly become victim to the terrifying energies trapped inside the field.

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THE CRYING GAME - Neil Jordan

53) THE CRYING GAME (1992

Directed By Neal Jordan 

Running Time 118 mins 

Cert 18

An unlikely kind of friendship develops between Fergus, an Irish Republican Army volunteer, and Jody, a kidnapped British soldier lured into an IRA trap by Jude, another IRA member. When the hostage-taking ends up going horribly wrong, Fergus escapes and heads to London, where he seeks out Jody's lover, a hairdresser named Dil. Fergus adopts the name "Jimmy" and gets a job as a day laborer. He also starts seeing Dil, who knows nothing about Fergus' IRA background. But there are some things about Dil that Fergus doesn't know.  

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SCUM - Ray Winstone

52) SCUM (1979)

Directed By Alan Clarke 

Running Time 98 mins 

Cert 18

Scum is a 1979 British crime drama film directed by Alan Clarke, portraying the brutality of life inside a British borstal. The script was originally made for the BBC's Play for Today strand in 1977, however due to the violence depicted, it was withdrawn from broadcast. Two years later, director Alan Clarke and scriptwriter Roy Minton remade it as a film, first shown on Channel 4 in 1983. By this time the borstal system had been reformed and eventually allowed the original TV version to be aired.

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SECRETS & LIES - Mike Leigh

51) SECRETS & LIES (1996)

Directed By Mike Leigh

Running Time 136 mins

Cert 15 

Leigh's modern British classic captured a brace of Oscar nominations and racked up a considerable number of awards. The story, every bit as believable and real as the rest of Leigh's work, centres on Cynthia Purley (Blethyn ), whose mid-life crisis is exacerbated by the appearance on the scene of the daughter she gave away at birth, the wonderfully named Hortense Cumberbatch (Baptiste) - a young, beautiful, professional black woman who causes a few eyebrows to be raised in the family, and forces Cynthia to come to terms with her past.

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PURE - Keira Knightley

50) PURE (2002)

Directed By Gillies MacKinnon 

Running Time 96 mins 

Cert 18

Social realist British drama set on a West London housing estate directed by Gillies MacKinnon ('Regeneration', 'Hideous Kinky'). Ten-year-old Paul (Harry Eden) is struggling to hold his family together in the wake of his father's sudden death. His mother, Mel (Molly Parker) is a heroin addict, and an opening scene shows Paul preparing the drug for her and handing her the syringe as she apologises for forgetting his birthday. Things get worse still when Mel turns to an old friend, Lenny (David Wenham) for consolation. Lenny is the main drug dealer in the area and has many other demands on his time, including his pregnant girlfriend Louise (Keira Knightley), a crack addict. Mel's behaviour grows increasingly unstable, and when the police start investigating the drugs scene in the local area, Paul realises it's time he took matters into his own hands for himself and his younger brother, Lee (Vinni Hunter).

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IN AMERICA - Paddy Considine & Samantha Morton

49) IN AMERICA (2002)

Directed By Jim Sheridan

Running Time 105 mins

Cert 15

Moving British family drama directed by Jim Sheridan ('My Left Foot', 'In the Name of the Father'). Young Irish actor Johnny Sullivan (Paddy Considine) smuggles his wife Sarah (Samantha Morton) and two young daughters Christy and Ariel (played by sisters Sarah and Emma Bolger) into America via Canada in the hope of jump-starting his career in New York. The couple have another, sadder reason for uprooting the family from their home in Ireland: they are mourning the recent death of their third child, a toddler son. However, despite their hopes of starting anew, New York initially turns out to be a less welcoming place than they had hoped - and the strains of poverty and city living soon start to take their toll on the tender, bereaved family.

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SHAME - Michael Fassbender & Carrey Mulligan

48) SHAME (2011)

Directed By Steve McQueen

Running Time 101 mins

Cert 18

Brandon is a 30-something man living in New York who is unable to manage his sex life. After his wayward younger sister moves into his apartment, Brandon's world spirals out of control. From director Steve McQueen ("Hunger"), Shame is a compelling and timely examination of the nature of need, how we live our lives and the experiences that shape us.

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WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND - Alana Bates - Hayley Miles

47) WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND (1961)

Directed By Bryan Forbes

Running Time 99 mins

Cert U

A man (Alan Bates) on the run for murder hides out at a nearby barn. Through a series of bizarre twists he is discovered by three children (Hayley Mills, Diane Holgate and Alan Barnes), who believe they have stumbled across Jesus and attempt to keep him hidden from the grown-ups. Based on the novel by Hayley Mill's mother, Mary Hayley Bell.

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THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND

46) THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND (2006)

Directed By Kevin Macdonald

Running Time 123 mins

Cert 15

In an incredible twist of fate, a Scottish doctor (James McAvoy) on a Ugandan medical mission becomes irreversibly entangled with one of the world's most barbaric figures: Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker). Impressed by Dr. Garrigan's brazen attitude in a moment of crisis, the newly self-appointed Ugandan President Amin hand picks him as his personal physician and closest confidante. Though Garrigan is at first flattered and fascinated by his new position, he soon awakens to Amin's savagery - and his own complicity in it. Horror and betrayal ensue as Garrigan tries to right his wrongs and escape Uganda alive.

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Naked (1993) Mike Leigh - Best British Films

​45) NAKED (1993)

Directed By Mike Leigh 

Running Time 131 mins 

Cert 18A 

Cynical and pessimistic Manchester drifter, Johnny (David Thewlis), arrives in London, afflicting his ex-girlfriend and her flatmate with an unsolicited visit. When he isn't having rough sex with the roommate or pestering the night watchman at a sterile, modern office complex, he berates his ex for her bourgeois urban tendencies. Leigh's portrait of a deteriorating world at the end of the twentieth century is an intense drama, which packs an even greater punch due to Thewlis's stunning performance as the bitter Johnny.

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AN EDUCATION (2009) Lone Scherfig - Must see British films

​44) AN EDUCATION (2009)

Directed By Lone Scherfig

Running Time 100mins

Cert 12A

In the post-war, pre-Beatles London suburbs, a bright schoolgirl is torn between studying for a place at Oxford and the rather more exciting alternative offered to her by a charismatic older man.

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CONTROL (2007) Joy Division,  Ian Curtis, Sam Riley

43) CONTROL (2007)

Directed By Anton Corbijn

Running Time 122 mins

Cert 15

Control tells the story of Ian Curtis, the lead singer of the influential late Seventies band Joy Division and the music, relationships and events that lead up to his suicide. The members of Joy Divison later regrouped to form New Order.

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CHARIOTS OF FIRE (1981) Must see British films

42) CHARIOTS OF FIRE (1981)

Directed By Hugh Hudson

Running Time 124 mins

Cert U

Winner of four Academy Awards® (including Best Picture), this internationally acclaimed British film recounts the poignant true story of two British sprinters vying for gold in the 1924 Paris Olympic Games. Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross), a driven athlete of Jewish ancestry, runs to overcome prejudice and to achieve personal fame; his rival, Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson), a devout Scottish missionary, competes for the glory of God. An inspirational story of spirit and strength in the face of enormous odds, the film combines the finest elements of athletic competition and human drama to create a compelling and timeless cinematic classic.

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WATERSHIP DOWN, 1978, Martin Rosen, animation, best British films, must see, UK movies,

41) WATERSHIP DOWN (1978)

Directed By. Martin Rosen

Running Time 101 mins

Cert U

Watership Down is a 1978 British animated adventure drama film written, produced and directed by Martin Rosen and based on the book of the same name by Richard Adams. It was financed by a consortium of British financial institutions. Originally released on 19 October 1978, the film was an immediate success and it became the sixth most popular film of 1979 at the British box office.[1] It was one of the first animated feature films to be presented in Dolby.

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40) BLACK NARCISSUS (1947)

Directed By Michael Powell

100 mins

Cert U

A classic Powell/Pressburger tale of sexual awakening based on the Rumer Godden novel. A group of British nuns are sent into the Himalayas to set up a mission in what was once the harem's quarters of an ancient palace. The clear mountain air, the unfamiliar culture and the unbridled sensuality of a young prince (Sabu) and his beggar-girl lover (Jean Simmons) begin to play havoc with the nuns' long-suppressed emotions. Whilst the young Mother Superior, Sister Clodagh (Deborah Kerr), fights a losing battle for order, the jaunty David Farrar falls in love with her, sparking uncontrollable jealousy in another nun, Sister Ruth (Kathleen Byron).

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39) BRAZIL (1985)

Directed By Terry Gilliam

Running Time 132 mins

Cert 15

In the future, a clerk at the all-powerful Ministry of Information sticks to his ideals and ends up crushed by the system in this half comedy, half horror story from former 'Monty Python' animator Terry Gilliam. Like Orwell's novel '1984', which it echoes, the future is seen from a 1940's perspective. Jonathan Pryce stars, with Robert De Niro making a cameo appearance as an excessively diligent sewage inspector

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38) KES (1969)

Directed By Ken Loach

Running Time 110 mins

Cert  PG

British filmmaking showed much of its potential in this marvellous production chronicling the boyhood experiences of Billy, whose expectations lead no further than following his brother into the pit when he reaches manhood. Written off by his teachers and often neglected at home, his future is pre-determined. He finds and trains a young kestrel. Through his care and respect for the bird, we see qualities in Billy that the world cannot allow to be recognised.

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GREAT EXPECTATIONS (1946) David Lean - Best British Films

37) GREAT EXPECTATIONS (1946)

Directed By David Lean

Running Time 118mins

Cert PG

David Lean directs this classic adaptation of Dickens's novel about a young orphan who develops 'great expectations' after a mysterious benefactor pledges to sponsor his transformation into a gentleman. Pip (Anthony Wager) is visiting the graves of his deceased parents when he finds himself confronted by an escaped convict, Magwitch (Finlay Currie). Unfortunately for Pip, Magwitch isn't the only frightening adult he becomes acquainted with. When Miss Havisham (Martita Hunt), an eccentric old woman still dressed for the wedding at which she was abandoned by her groom years ago, seeks a playmate for her charge, Estella (Jean Simmons), it is Pip who is sent for. The boy quickly falls in love with Estella, though his hopes seem forlorn due to the gap in social standing between the two. When an older Pip (John Mills) discovers that he has a benefactor, he feels that Estella may be won, but has he read the situation correctly?

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THE CONSTANT GARDENER (2005) Must See British Movies

36) THE CONSTANT GARDENER (2005)

Directed By Fernando Meirelles

Running Time 129mins

Cert 15

Nominated for four Academy Awards, The Constant Gardener stars Ralph Fiennes and Academy Award winner for Best Supporting Actress Rachel Weisz. In this gripping suspense-thriller, a diplomat on the hunt for his wife's murderer uncovers a treacherous conspiracy that will destroy millions of innocent people - unless he can reveal its sinister roots. From the best-selling spy novel by John le Carre comes this edge-of-your-seat story of murder, deception and revenge that critics are calling " a hair-raising thriller with an unforgettable finale" (Karen Durbin, Elle). 

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 WOMEN IN LOVE - Ken Russell, Alan Bates, Jennie Linden, Oliver Reed, Glenda Jackson, D.H.Lawrence

35) WOMEN IN LOVE (1969)

Directed By Ken Russell

Running Time 131mins

Cert 15

Best friends Rupert Birkin (Alan Bates) and Gerald Crich (Oliver Reed) spend much of their time analysing love, especially when they meet two sisters (Glenda Jackson and Jennie Linden). While Rupert loves then marries one of them, Gerald and Gudrun's relationship is not so straightforward.

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WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN - Tilda Swinton, Must See British films

34) WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN (2011)

Directed By Lynne Ramsay

Running Time 112mins

Cert 15

Eva puts her ambitions and career aside to give birth to Kevin. The relationship between mother and son is difficult from the very first years. When Kevin is 15, he does something irrational and unforgivable in the eyes of the entire community. Eva grapples with her own feelings of grief and responsibility. Did she ever love her son? And how much of what Kevin did was her fault?

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33) DEAD MAN'S SHOES (2004)

Directed By Shane Meadows

Running Time 90mins

Cert 18

A blend of horror, the supernatural, comedy and social realism. Richard (Paddy Considine) has always protected his simple-minded younger brother, Anthony (Tony Kebbell), but when Richard leaves his rural Midlands' village to join the army, Anthony is taken in by Sonny (Gary Stretch), a vicious local drug dealer, and his gang of thugs. Anthony becomes the gang's pet and it amuses them to bully him and corrupt his innocence. Seven years later Richard returns for revenge.

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BILLY ELLIOT - Jamie Bell

32) BILLY ELLIOT (2000)

Directed By Stephen Daldry

Running Time 110mins

Cert 15

Northern England, 1974. What's a poor boy to do? Billy's mam is dead, his brother beats him up for nicking his Marc Bolan records, his dad's worried about the strike, his granny's lost her marbles, the streets are full of riot police. And Billy wants to be a ballet dancer.

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IF.... Malcom McDowell - best British movies

IF.... Malcom McDowell - best British movies

31) IF.... (1968)

Directed By Lindsay Anderson

Running Time 111 mins

Cert 15

Allegorical drama from director Lindsay Anderson in which a group of non-conformist students lead a revolt against their oppressive masters at an English private school. Parallels are drawn in the film between the bullying, inflexible and snobbish approach of the schoolmasters to their pupils, led by the rebellious Mick Travis (Malcolm McDowell), and the dysfunction and injustice of the British class system at large.As Mick and his gang of cohorts indulge in acts of petty disobedience, such as heading into town to try and seduce a local waitress, the school's acts of retribution, led by Rowntree (Robert Swann), become increasingly cruel and malicious. Finally, the students are provoked into open rebellion, the bloody nature of which shocked a number of commentators at the time and led to claims that the film aimed to provoke a violent uprising in society as a whole.

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CASHBACK - Sean Ellis, Sean Biggerstaff, Emilia Fox, Shaun Evans, Michelle Ryan

30) CASHBACK (2006)

Directed By Sean Ellis

Running Time 102mins

Cert 15

When art student Ben Willis is dumped by his girlfriend Suzy, he develops insomnia. To pass the long hours of the night, he starts working the late night shift at the local supermarket. There he meets a colorful cast of characters, all of whom have their own 'art' in dealing with the boredom of an eight-hour-shift. Ben's art is that he imagines himself stopping time. This way, he can appreciate the artistic beauty of the frozen world and the people inside it - especially Sharon, the quiet checkout girl, who perhaps holds the answer to solving the problem of Ben's insomnia.

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A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH  - Michael Powell, David Niven - Best British Films

29) A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH (1946)

Directed By Michael Powell

Running Time 104mins

Cert U

Returning to England from a bombing run in May 1945, flyer Peter Carter's plane is damaged and his parachute ripped to shreds. He has his crew bail out safely, but figures it is curtains for himself. He gets on the radio, and talks to June, a young American woman working for the USAAF, and they are quite moved by each other's voices. Then he jumps, preferring this to burning up with his plane.He wakes up in the surf. It was his time to die, but there was a mixup in heaven. They couldn't find him in all that fog. By the time his "Conductor" catches up with him 20 hours later, Peter and June have met and fallen in love. This changes everything, and since it happened through no fault of his own, Peter figures that heaven owes him a second chance. Heaven agrees to a trial to decide his fate. ...A Matter of Life and Death (USA: STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN)

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THE KINGS SPEECH  - Coin Firth, Tom Hooper - Best Ever British Films

28) THE KINGS SPEECH (2010)

Directed By Tom Hooper

Running Time

118 mins

Cert 12A

After the death of his father King George V (Michael Gambon) and the scandalous abdication of King Edward VIII (Guy Pearce), Bertie (Colin Firth) who has suffered from a debilitating speech impediment all his life, is suddenly crowned King George VI of England. With his country on the brink of war and in desperate need of a leader, his wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter), the future Queen Mother, arranges for her husband to see an eccentric speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). After a rough start, the two delve into an unorthodox course of treatment and eventually form an unbreakable bond. With the support of Logue, his family, his government and Winston Churchill (Timothy Spall), the King will overcome his stammer and deliver a radio-address that inspires his people and unites them in battle.

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SHOOTING DOGS (2006) John Hurt - Best British Films

27) SHOOTING DOGS (2005)

Directed By Michael Caton-Jones

Running Time 115mins

Cert 15

April 6th 1994: a bloody genocide in central Africa gets underway.In just one hundred spring days, a million Rwandan Tutsis were massacred by their fellow Hutu countrymen and a small African country was turned into a charnel house. The barbarity was beyond imagination. But not beyond prevention. The UN was there, watching. Watching but not acting.And at the heart of it all a British priest and his young acolyte were forced to confront the depths of their faith, the limits of their courage and, ultimately, to make a choice. To remain with their people or to run away.

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GOODBYE, MR CHIPS  - Best British films Ever

26) GOODBYE, MR CHIPS (1939)

Directed By Sam Wood

Running Time 114mins

Cert U

This film was nominated for seven Oscars with Robert Donat, as the shy schoolmaster Charles Edward Chipping, winning Best Actor over Clarke Gable. Chippings is new Latin teacher at Brookfield School in 1870 who leads rather a mundane life until he meets and falls in love with Katherine (screen debutante Greer Garson) on a walking holiday in the Alps. She finally brings him happiness, but tragedy is looming for the beloved Mr Chips.

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NOTES ON A SCANDAL (2006) Best British Movies

25) NOTES ON A SCANDAL (2006)

Directed By Richard Eyre

Running Time 92 mins

Cert 15

The bitter, cynical and lonely Barbara Covett is a tough and conservative teacher near to retirement that is loathed by her colleagues and students. In the loneliness of her apartment, she spends her spare time writing her journal, taking care of her old cat Portia and missing her special friend Jennifer Dodd.When Sheba Hart joins the high-school as the new art teacher, Barbara dedicates her attention to the newcomer, writing sharp and unpleasant comments about her behavior and clothes. When Barbara helps Sheba in a difficult situation with two students, the grateful Sheba invites her to have lunch with her family. Sheba introduces her husband and former professor Richard Hart, who is about twenty years older than she; her rebellious teenager daughter Polly; and her son Ben that has Down's Syndrome. Barbara becomes close to Sheba, but when she accidentally discovers that Sheba is having an affair with the fifteen year-old student Steven Connolly.

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QUADROPHENIA (1979) The Who film

24) QUADROPHENIA (1979)

Directed By Franc Roddam

Running Time 117mins

Cert 15

Director Franc Roddam Phil Daniels plays working-class Jimmy, the drug-induced Mod, who hates his job and is misunderstood by his parents. But by night, he comes alive, with the all-nighters, his pills and his scooter-riding friends. Always on a high, life can't get any better. Then there's the Brighton scooter run, where both Mods and Rockers converge, ending in the battle of the cults on Brighton Beach. What goes up must come down, and with Jimmy's come-down, his life is turned around, and so begins his downward spiral into paranoia and isolation, and the four-faceted mindset: Quadrophenia. With its extremely realistic language, violent overtones and classic sixties soundtrack, this illness is bound to be contagious. Come along for the ride. ...Quadrophenia

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THE ENGLISH PATIENT - Best British Films

23) THE ENGLISH PATIENT (1996)

Directed By Anthony Minghella

Running Time 162 mins

Cert 15

Anthony Minghella wrote and directed this award-winning adaptation of Michael Ondaatje’s novel about a doomed and tragic romance set against the backdrop of World War II. In a field hospital in Italy, Hana (Juliette Binoche), a nurse from Canada, is caring for a pilot who was horribly burned in a plane wreck; he has no identification and cannot remember his name, so he’s known simply as “the English Patient,” thanks to his accent. When the hospital is forced to evacuate, Hana determines en route that the patient shouldn’t be moved far due to his fragile condition, so the two are left in a monastery to be picked up later. In time, Hana begins to piece together the patient’s story from the shards of his memories.

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OLIVER!  - Carol Reed (1969)- best UK movies

​​22) OLIVER! (1968)

Directed By Carol Reed

Running Time 153 mins

Cert U

Oliver! brought to the big screen a tremendous adaptation of Lionel Bart's hit Broadway musical. A brilliant cast and stunning choreography earned Oliver! Best Picture in the Academy Awards and The Golden Globe Awards and has since then proved itself as one of the best loved family movies of all time. 

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BARRY LYNDON - Stanley Kubrick

21) BARRY LYNDON (1975)

Directed By Stanley Kubrick

Running Time

184 mins

Cert PG

Stanley Kubrick's lavish period drama based on the Thackeray novel. Redmond Barry (Ryan O'Neal) is an Irish country boy who falls in love with a well-to-do local girl (Gay Hamilton) and is subsequently tricked by her family into leaving town. Disillusioned with love, the brokenhearted youngster then embarks on an adventure which sees him serve in the Seven Years War, earn a living as a professional gambler, and eventually move into the higher ranks of society when he meets and marries the beautiful Lady Lyndon (Marisa Berenson). However, despite the luck which has brought him such riches, it is this final move, the cynical choice to marry for social advancement rather than love, which brings about Barry's downfall.

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EYES WIDE SHUT - British Movies best ever

20) EYES WIDE SHUT (1999)

20) EYES WIDE SHUT (1999)

Directed By Stanley Kubrick

Running Time 159 mins

Cert 18

EYES WIDE SHUT is based on Arthur Schnitzler's 1926 novella Dream Story and was Kubrick's last film before tragically dying of a heart attack in his sleep at his St Albans home on March 7th 1999, just five days after showing Warner Bros. his final cut.The story, set in and around New York City, follows the sexually charged adventures of Dr. Bill Harford, who is shocked when his wife, Alice, reveals that she had contemplated an affair a year earlier. He embarks on a night-long adventure, during which he infiltrates a massive masked orgy of an unnamed secret society.

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A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS - Best British Film s Ever

19) A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS (1966)

Directed By Fred Zinnemann

Running Time 120 mins

Cert U

Oscar-winning adaptation of Robert Bolt's historical play. Sir Thomas More (Paul Scofield) has to wrestle with his conscience when he is appointed High Chancellor to King Henry VIII (Robert Shaw). The King wishes More's support in his decision to divorce his wife, Catherine of Aragon, in favour of Anne Boleyn. When More refuses and resigns from his office, he falls foul of a plot by Thomas Cromwell (Leo McKern) to remove him permanently.

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THE PIANIST - Roamn Polanski

18) THE PIANIST (2002)

Directed By Roman Polanski

Running Time 150 mins

Cert 15

Award-winning British drama telling the true story of pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman's experiences in Warsaw during the Nazi occupation. When the Jews of the city find themselves forced into a ghetto, Szpilman finds work playing in a café; and when his family is deported in 1942, he stays behind, works for a while as a labourer, and eventually goes into hiding in the ruins of the war-torn city. The film won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and Oscars for Best Actor (Adrien Brody), Best Adapted Screenplay (Ronald Harwood) and Best Director (Roman Polanski).

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best British Films - ATONEMENT - James McAvoy, Keira Knightley

17) ATONEMENT (2007)

Directed By Joe Wright

Running Time 123 mins

Cert 15

On the hottest day of the summer of 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis sees her older sister Cecilia (Kiera Knightley) strip off her clothes and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their country house. Watching Cecilia is their housekeeper's son Robbie Turner (James McAvoy), a childhood friend who, along with Briony's sister, has recently graduated from Cambridge.By the end of that day the lives of all three will have been changed forever. Robbie and Cecilia will have crossed a boundary they had never before dared to approach and will have become victims of the younger girl's scheming imagination, and Briony will have committed a dreadful crime, the guilt for which will colour her entire life.

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BRIEF ENCOUNTER (1945)  Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard

16) BRIEF ENCOUNTER (1945)

Directed By David Lean

Running Time 86 mins

Cert PG

Based on Noël Coward's play 'Still Life,' Brief Encounter is a romantic, bittersweet British drama about two married people who meet by chance in a London railway station and carry on an intense love affair. Sentimental yet down-to-earth and set in pre-World War II England, the film follows British housewife Laura Jesson (Celia Johnson), who is on her way home, but catches a cinder in her eye. By chance, she meets Dr. Alec Harvey (Trevor Howard), who removes it for her. The two talk for a few minutes and strike immediate sparks, but they end up catching different trains. However, both return to the station once a week to meet and, as the film progresses, they grow closer, sharing stories, hopes, and fears about their lives, marriages, and children. One day, when Alec's train is late, both become frantic that they will miss each other. When they finally find each other, they realize that they are in love. But what should be a joyous realization is fraught with tragedy, since both care greatly for their families. Howard and Johnson give flawless performances as two practical, married people who find themselves in a situation in which they know they can never be happy.

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MIDNIGHT EXPRESS (1978) Oliver Stone, Alan Parker

15) MIDNIGHT EXPRESS (1978)

Directed By Alan Parker

Running Time  121 mins

Cert 18

Oliver Stone scripts and Alan Parker directs this British prison drama, based on a true story. An American student (Brad Davis) is caught smuggling hashish and faces years in a Turkish prison. While his family at home attempt to have him freed, he undergoes hellish experiences in jail.

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CHILDREN OF MEN - Clive Owen - Must See British Films

14) CHILDREN OF MEN (2006)

Directed By Alfonso Cuaron

Running Time 109 mins

Cert 15

No children. No future. No hope. In the year 2027, eighteen years since the last baby was born, disillusioned Theo (Clive Owen) becomes an unlikely champion of the human race when he is asked by his former lover (Julianne Moore) to escort a young pregnant woman out of the country as quickly as possible. In a thrilling race against time, Theo will risk everything to deliver the miracle the whole world has been waiting for. Co-starring Michael Caine, filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men is the powerful film Pete Hammond of Maxim calls "magnificent ... a unique and totally original vision."

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Best british Movies - COLD MOUNTAIN

13) COLD MOUNTAIN (2003)

Directed By Anthony Minghella

Running Time 154 mins

Cert 15

At the dawn of the Civil War, the men of Cold Mountain, North Carolina, rush to join the Confederate army. Ada has vowed to wait for Inman, but as the war drags on and letters go unanswered, she must find the will to survive while desperately struggling to hold onto her family’s farm. Inman’s long journey home takes him through the crumbling confederacy, as he meets people of all walks of life who both aid and hinder his mission.

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THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI - Alec Guinness - Best ever British films

12) THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI (1957)

Directed By David Lean 

Running Time 161 mins

Cert U

When British POWs build a vital railway bridge in enemy-occupied Burma, Allied commandos are assigned to destroy it in David Lean's epic World War II adventure starring William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins and Sessue Hayakawa.

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THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY (1980) John Mackenzie, Bob Hoskins, Helen Mirren

11) THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY (1980)

Directed By John Mackenzie

Running Time 114mins

Cert 18

The Long Good Friday is heralded as one of the best British gangster films of all time, starring Academy Award® nominee Bob Hoskins (Mona Lisa) in his career-making role as London crime boss Harold Shand and Academy Award® winner Helen Mirren (The Queen) as his classy moll Victoria.Harold is enjoying the height of his power, and he is on the verge of a deal that which would make his current 'arrangements' small fry. But stronger forces than even he can control have moved in and taken over. Climaxing in one long bloody day of terror, an Easter Good Friday, he is to see his empire begin to crack and crumble.

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Best British Films - THE THIRD MAN (1949) Carol Reed

10) THE THIRD MAN (1949)

Directed By Carol Reed

Running Time 93 mins

Cert PG

This classic noir mystery, from the team of Carol Reed and Graham Greene, is regarded to be the best filmwork of both of these extreme talents. The Third Man features Joseph Cotten as Holly Martins, a pulp novelist who has come to post-WWII Vienna with the promise of work from his friend, Harry Lime (Orson Welles). When he finds that Lime has just been killed in a questionable car accident, he decides to remain in the city to investigate his friend's mysterious death. The Third Man is a masterpiece of melancholia featuring extraordinary writing, acting, and directing, as well as a classic zither score by Anton Karas.

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9) THE KILLING FIELDS (1984)

Directed By Roland Joffé

Running Time 141 mins

Cert 15

When the Khmer Rouge captured the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh in 1975, many thought the killing would end. Instead it started a long nightmare in which three million Cambodians would lose their lives in the killing fields... The Killing Fields is an epic true story of friendship and survival produced by David Puttnam (Chariots of Fire) and directed by Roland Joffe (The Mission).Sam Waterston plays Sydney Schanberg, whose war coverage entraps him and other journalists in Cambodia's turbulent politics. Dr. Haing S. Ngor is Dith Pran, Schanberg's aide and friend who saves them from execution. But Pran is sentenced to work in the labour camps, enduring starvation and torture before attempting an escape to neighbouring Thailand.... In real life Dr Ngor also endured Khmer Rouge atrocities and saw his moving, Oscar-winning portrayal of Pran (one of the film's three Academy Awards) as a way of bringing his nation's tragic ordeal to light.

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TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY (2011) Gary Oldmans, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Toby Jones, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch,

8) TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY (2011)

Directed By Tomas Alfredson

Running Time 127mins

Cert 15

Set in the 1970s, TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY finds George Smiley (Gary Oldman), a recently retired MI6 agent, doing his best to adjust to a life outside the secret service. However, when a disgraced agent reappears with information concerning a mole at the heart of the Circus, Smiley is drawn back into the murky field of espionage. Tasked with investigating which of his trusted former colleagues has chosen to betray him and their country, Smiley narrows his search to four suspects - all experienced, urbane, successful agents - but past histories, rivalries and friendships make it far from easy to pinpoint the man who is eating away at the heart of the British establishment.

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WALKABOUT (1971) Nicolas Roeg, Jenny Agutter

7) WALKABOUT (1971)

Directed By Nicolas Roeg

Running Time 100mins

Cert 12

While out on a picnic in the Australian outback with his teenage daughter (Jenny Agutter) and young son (Lucien John), a man goes insane and kills himself. The girl takes her brother into the outback in order that he doesn't see their father's dead body. There they meet a young Aborigine (David Gumpilil) who is on walkabout - a rites of passage ritual whereby he must survive in the wilderness for several weeks. He finds food and water for the siblings, and develops a form of communication with the young boy despite being unable to speak English. The girl, however, rebuffs the mating dance which the Aborigine performs in her honour.

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THE END OF THE AFFAIR (1999) Ralph Finnes, Julianne Moore, Stephen Rea - best British Movies

6) THE END OF THE AFFAIR (1999)

Directed By Neil Jordan

Running Time 102mins

Cert 18

On a rainy night in 1946, novelist Maurice Bendrix (Ralph Fiennes) has a meeting with Henry Miles (Stephen Rea), husband of his ex-mistress Sarah (Julianne Moore), who abruptly ended their affair two years before. Bendrix's obsession with Sarah is rekindled as he succumbs to his own jealousy and arranges to have her followed. As the investigation progresses, Bendrix relives his passionate memories of their affair during The Blitz in London. He discovers her diary and reads her account of the affair. It is as different from his as night is from day. He re-enters her life and confronts once more the consuming love they had for each other and the reason for its annihilation.

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Best British Films Ever - TRAINSPOTTING (1996) Ewan McGreagor, Danny Boyle, Robert Carlyle

5) TRAINSPOTTING (1996)

Directed By Danny Boyle

Running Time 94 mins

Cert 18

Danny Boyle’s explosive British film tracks the misadventures of young men in Edinburgh trying to find their way out of joblessness, aimless relationships and drug addiction. Some are successful, while others hopelessly are not. Based on Irvine Walsh’s novel, Trainspotting melds grit with poetry, resulting in a film of harsh truths and stunning grace.

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THE RAILWAY CHILDREN (1970) Jenny Agutter, Lional Jeffries

4) THE RAILWAY CHILDREN (1970)

Directed By Lionel Jeffries

Running Time 109 mins

Cert U

Starring Jenny Agutter as the oldest daughter of an Edwardian family thrown on hard times when their father is wrongly sent to prison. The Railway Children avert a train disaster, save an imperiled steeple chaser and reunite an exiled Russian with his wife, all with equal enterprise. Based on the novel by Edith Nesbit.

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GHANDI, Richard Attenborough, Ben Kingsley

3) GANDHI (1982)

Directed By Richard Attenborough

Running Time 191 mins

Cert PG

Richard Attenborough's award-winning epic recounts the life and times of Mahatma Gandhi. In South Africa, a young Indian lawyer is booted off a train for refusing to ride second-class. Upon his return to his native India and fed up with the unjust political system, he joins the Indian Congress Party, which encourages social change through passive resistance. When his "subversive" activities land him in jail, masses of low-skilled workers strike to support his non-violent yet revolutionary position. Back in India, Gandhi renounces the Western way of life and struggles to organize Indian labor against British colonialism. A strike costs many British soldiers their lives, so the crown responds by slaughtering 1,500 Indians. Enraged, the ascetic, spiritual leader continues to preach pacifism until he has lead India out from under the tyranny of British imperialism.

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Best British Films, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962) David Lean, Omar Sharief, Peter O'Toole

2) LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962)

Directed By David Lean

Running Time 216 mins

Cert PG

David Lean's lush, Oscar-winning biopic stars Peter O'Toole as T.E. Lawrence, the Oxford-educated British army officer who aided the Arabs in their revolt against the Turks. Teaming up with Sherif Ali (Omar Sharif), Lawrence crosses a desert (considered uncrossable) in order to join two separate Arab tribes together as a single fighting force. Aiming to achieve Arab sovereignty, he wins a series of military victories but always keeps his eye on the larger picture, doing his best to prevent the subjection of the Arabs to British colonial rule. The film won seven Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director.

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1) A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971)

Directed By Stanley Kubrick 

Running Time 136 mins 

Cert 18

Stomping, whomping, stealing, singing, tap-dancing, violating, Derby-topped teddy-boy hooligan Alex (Malcolm McDowell) has his own way of having a good time. He has it at the tragic expense of others. Alex's journey from amoral punk to brainwashed proper citizen forms the dynamic arc of Stanley Kubrick's future-shook vision of Anthony Burgess's novel. Unforgettable images, startling musical counterpoints, the fascinating language used by Alex and his pals - Kubrick shapes them into a shattering whole. 

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