We’ve picked out some classic British movies that we think should be part of everyone’s lives, especially when they are learning English as a foreign language!
Here are our favourite movies, check out the list and see if you’ve missed any from ‘Billy Elliot’ to ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’…
1) Four Weddings and a Funeral
The movie that launched Hugh Grant’s career, it features one of the most memorable opening scenes of any British film, with a huge number of swear worlds being hurled elegantly around the room as the mad dash to reach the first wedding begins.
Rowan Atkinson plays the hapless vicar, who provides moments of glorious farce with his constant spoonerisms. Yet the most memorable bit of the movie is probably the saddest, with John Hannah’s emotional reading of W. H. Auden’s Stop all the Clocks.
“I am, as ever, in bewildered awe of anyone who makes this kind of commitment that Angus and Laura have made today.”
In the first wedding’s scene of Four Weddings and a Funeral, Hugh Grant gives a typical Best Man speech. Learning to pronounce “as ever” and “bewildered awe” as Hugh does, can greatly improve your English. Listen to it countless times, record yourself and compare both time after time, help yourself delivers a really decent Best Man speech.
2) The Life of Brian
“He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy.”
At the time, The Life of Brian was one of the most controversial films ever made in the UK. In fact, it was banned in several areas of Britain, as well as several other countries like Sweden (although Norwegian cinemas then marketed the film as ‘so funny it was banned in Sweden’).
Created by the legendary Monty Python team, and financed by Beatle George Harrison after the original backers pulled out, the film is a collection of connected sketches that tell the story of Brian, a boy who happened to be born in the stable next to Jesus and so keeps getting mistaken for the Messiah.
As well as being incredibly funny, the film was a cutting satire, not of the message of Jesus, but of organised religion as a whole. This is most noticeably shown in the scene where Brian’s discarded gourd and sandal are seized upon by a crowd who immediately split into sects of sandal followers and gourd worshippers.
3) Billy Elliot
A film that perfectly encapsulates the changing nature of British society in the 1980s (and the decline of the traditional industries of the North), this is a touching coming-of-age drama about a young boy who wanted to follow his dreams, even if they went against everything his family understood.
Billy Elliot is a film that will resonate with anyone who has ever felt like an outsider. Billy’s dreams of pursuing ballet become impossible for his father to understand, obsessed as he is with protecting the coal mining industry even as it dies around him. Their relationship mirrors England’s struggle to adapt to the new realities of life in the Thatcher era.
One of the famous quotes in this movie;
“Find a place on that bloody wall and focus on that spot. Then whip your head ’round and come back to that spot. Prepare!”
4) The Italian Job
Perhaps Sir Michael Caine’s finest hour, this film about a group of Brits desperately trying to get out of Europe before the Italians take their money away is likely to see a resurgence in popularity as the realities of Brexit bite. Featuring Noel Coward’s final performance as a terribly refined crime boss, the story explores how a bunch of lovable working-class criminals attempt to steal three million dollars through a traffic jam and the use of several brightly coloured minis.
While the most famous line of the film is undoubtedly “You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off”, the most iconic scene is the final one, which is perhaps the perfect cliffhanger ending.
So why not check one of these classic movies out Netflix, Amazon Prime or pick up a DVD locally and get started on British movies that’ll quickly become your new favourites!
If you would like some other movie ideas, you could consider some of these: