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A look inside Hollywood and the movies. : THE BRITISH PAGE : Filmmakers Mucking About in Politics

Election fever is in the air in London, with political pundits predicting that British Prime Minister John Major might call a general election as early as November.

With this in mind, both Major’s Conservative government and the opposition Labor Party have called in filmmakers whose resumes include Oscar-winning movies to help enhance their images.

Hugh Hudson (“Chariots of Fire,” “Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes”) is helping Labor’s crusade to defeat Major’s government, while John Schlesinger (“Midnight Cowboy,” “Pacific Heights”) has been enlisted by the Conservatives to maintain the status quo.

Both men have made party political broadcast (PPB) films--10-minute promotional movies that air on all four British terrestrial TV channels in prime time.

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Hudson, a committed Labor supporter, did this with great success in the 1987 election campaign. His film of Labor leader Neil Kinnock and his wife, Glenys, showed them walking hand in hand on a cliff top, laughing as sea gulls wheeled overhead. It was dubbed “Kinnock--the Movie,” and increased Kinnock’s personal popularity rating in opinion polls by 16 % , even though Labor went on to lose that election.

Schlesinger shot several scenes in a PPB for the government that aired Sept . 19. It portrayed Britain as “a nation at ease with itself” under the Conservatives. But Schlesinger has gone on the record to distance himself from the PPB. “It was not my idea, my script or my edit,” he told the London Sunday Times. “So it was certainly not my film.”

Some observers have found it strange for Schlesinger to help the Conservatives in this way. He has been a vociferous campaigner against Clause 28--now a section of a government-sponsored Act of Parliament that forbade the financing by local authorities of activities thought to “promote” homosexuality. Schlesinger merely says that he “admires” John Major.

Hudson, though, is a fervent Labor supporter (as is “Chariots of Fire” screenwriter Colin Welland, who writes his PPBs), and volunteered his services free. Another factor in Hudson’s background made him an ideal candidate to make Labor’s film: He, along with Alan Parker, Ridley Scott and Adrian Lyne, all come from a generation of filmmakers who revolutionized British TV commercials in the 1970s in a witty, accessible and highly persuasive style.

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Hudson insists he is more than a hired gun, and that his support for Labor comes “out of a belief in social justice.”

Meanwhile, north of the border, the minority Scottish National Party managed to snag Scots-born Sean Connery to present one of its PPBs. The party, which believes in self-determination for Scotland, approached the actor after he publicly admitted his admiration for the party over the summer.


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