Unlike the Americans, the British are not always so keen to create unashamedly patriotic films that inspire pride in the viewers. However, there are a few gems that have been made over the years, all of which will leave you feeling proud to be British, and here are 10 of the best.
This 1964 classic depicts the Battle of Rorke’s Drift, where the 150 British soldiers battled 4,000 Zulu warriors in January 1879. Directed by Cy Endfield, this patriotic classic was also the film that launched Michael Caine’s career.
2. The Dambusters
The Dambusters is another classic that tells the story of 617 Squadron and their attempt in World War II to destroy the German dams that were so crucial to the country’s industry. Michael Redgrave stars, leading the way in the 1943 mission ‘Operation Chastise’ where Barnes Wallis’s bouncing bombs were put to use against the enemy.
3. The King’s Speech
Nothing inspires British pride quite like an Oscar-winning hit, so The King’s Speech leaves a lot to be proud of. It stars Colin Firth in the role of King George VI battling to overcome his stammer with the help of Lionel Logue, a speech therapist played by Geoffrey Rush. A story of duty, overcoming great difficulties and, most of all, friendship, it is one of the most successful (and best) British films of all time, and won Best Picture at the Academy Awards in 2011.
4. Chariots of Fire
This classic from 1981 is a story of dedication and glory, focusing on the real story of two athletes training for the 1924 Olympics. Winning two Academy Award out of its seven nominations, including Best Picture, it was a massive hit, as well as inspiring national pride. Even if you’ve never seen it, you’ve almost certainly heard Vangelis’s score, which remains one of the most memorable and emotive in film history.
5. Four Weddings And A Funeral
This 1994 comedy hit looks at the institution of the British wedding, and gets it spot on. Starring Hugh Grant and written by Richard Curtis, it was also nominated for the Best Picture gong at the Academy Awards. This is British comedy at its best, and the film was a worldwide sensation which has aged surprisingly well (just like our Hugh really!). Its a staple of late night film4 so set your Youview and enjoy it with a night in and a take-away!
6. James Bond
From the release of Dr. No in 1962 to the latest instalment, Skyfall, the James Bond franchise is one of the longest-running and most successful of all time – and it’s British. Even if you don’t like the Bond films yourself, you cannot fail to feel a touch of pride at the international success of the franchise.
7. Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World
In 2003, director Peter Weir took us back to the Napoleonic Wars in 1805 when the British Empire ruled the waves. Russell Crowe plays the fictional character of Jack Aubrey, from the books by Patrick O’Brian, and no Brit will be able to escape a feeling of pride watching the British rule the high seas once again. It was also nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won two.
8. The First of the Few
This 1942 film directed by (and starring) Leslie Howard is dedicated to the story of R. J. Mitchell and his design of the classic Spitfire fighter plane. Coming out in war time, this would have been a morale-boosting film at the time, and it still has the power to invoke patriotic pride in its viewers.
9. The Life of Brian
Although it was one of the most controversial films of all time when it was released in 1979, and screens around the country refused to screen it due to claims of blasphemy, The Life of Brian is now recognised as one of the greatest British comedies of all time. Telling the story of Brian, who was mistaken for Jesus throughout his life, the unique comedy of the Python team would make anyone proud to be British.
10. Wallace & Gromit
The Wallace & Gromit films, dating back to 1989 with the short film A Grand Day Out, have become an international sensation. The Wrong Trousers and A Close Shave both won Best Animated Short Film awards at the Oscars, and The Curse of the Were-Rabbit won Best Animated Feature in 2005. That these short (and very British) animated films about a man and his dog could go on to be so successful around the world is enough to make any British viewer proud.
Great British Films
If you are in the mood for feeling patriotic, or you just want to be reminded of the very best of Britain’s qualities, check out a few of the films on the list above. They each have different qualities that inspire national pride, from their clear patriotic agenda to the way they capture the very essence of Britishness. So sit back, put one of these in the DVD player, and enjoy a Great British film this afternoon.