Why we don’t have our own cinema

23 December 2010

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Jonathan Gems is an award-winning screenplay writer with Batman (1989), Mars Attacks! (1996) and Corpse Bride (2005) amongst his works. He is also a playwright and author.

Kenneth Branagh, right, in Henry V - a role that got him noticed in Hollywood

Carl von Clausewitz, the Prussian military strategist, said: “War is business conducted by other means.”

In other words, wars are about money. Most wars are like home invasions: you get your pals together, break into someone’s house and grab their stuff. The war in Iraq is a case in point: started by the US and UK (using terrorism as a pretext) in order to grab Iraq’s massive energy wealth. The war in Afghanistan is not dissimilar. Again, using terrorism as a pretext, the US and UK invaded Afghanistan to establish secure access to the massive oil and gas fields of the Caspian Sea region and Kazakhstan. At present, there is no greater source of wealth in the world than oil and gas – the most lucrative commodities on the planet.

The inversion of Clauswitz’s statement: “Business is war by other means” is also true. Almost all the wars fought in the world are business wars. It’s only when business deals involving major corporations can’t be agreed, or leveraged, that military intervention is considered. When a shooting war breaks out, it means the business players have failed. It’s a great deal easier to steal the wealth of other nations through business than through military action.

In 1969, Britain lost a 25-year business war it had been fighting with America for control of the UK film market. In 1969, the British government capitulated to Washington in a secret deal, and removed the protections that, until then, had sustained British Cinema. When these protections were removed (primarily certain tax breaks and the Eady Levy) the British film studios were doomed. Associated British Pictures and the Rank Organisation quit film operations in 1970, and British Lion scaled back, hanging on by its fingernails, until giving up the ghost in 1976.

Since 1970, Britain – a nation of over 60 million – has released an average of 6 British films per year. Denmark, a nation of only 5.5 million, has averaged 29 films per year over the same period. How is it possible that tiny Denmark can generate almost five times our movie output?
Simple: in Denmark, 12% of the market is protected for Danish films by the government.

The French government protects the French film industry in the same way. In France, 12% of the market is reserved exclusively for French films. Since 1970, this policy, combined with certain production subsidies, has enabled France to have a thriving indigenous industry turning out an average of 102 movies per year.

France’s population, at 63.4 million, is comparable to Britain’s, so it’s reasonable to assume that, if our government protected 12% of the UK film market for UK films (easily done with the stroke of the pen) we, too, could be putting out a hundred films a year.

Can you imagine what a creative explosion that would produce? There’d be opportunities for new writing, new producers, directors, film composers, cinematographers, editors, sound designers, set designers, art directors, costume designers, actors; can you imagine all the new stars it would create? Also, the great pool of British talent in Hollywood could come back and make films here – which they’d love to do. Los Angeles, for most ex-pats, is a lonely and hellish place.

It’s almost shocking how easy it would be to revive British Cinema.

People who are old enough to remember when we made our own movies, back in the 1950’s and 60’s, will tell you that, sure, there was a new British film every week – sometimes two a week – but the public didn’t get excited because most of them were crap. The Hollywood movies were much better. This is what French people say about French films today. I’ve even heard French people say protection should be withdrawn from
French Cinema because it would ‘force the filmmakers to make better films’. These mopheads have no idea how lucky they are. If they got their wish, and protection was removed, the French film industry would collapse and die almost immediately.

The same argument has been made for the removal of subsidies from British theatre. Most British theatre is, let’s face it, unwatchable. We must be grateful to our government for not legalizing firearms, or there’d be more suicides among theatregoers. I’ve yet to meet a single professional theatre critic who isn’t either clinically insane or on heavy medication from having to sit through so many plays. But, if the Arts Council stopped funding British Theatre, there wouldn’t be any – or hardly any – which would be terrible. So, even if protected films are unwatchable, they should still be supported for cultural reasons.

The reason why every country in Europe assigns a small share of its market to its own cinema is culture. Governments see their role as not only protecting their nations’ territorial integrity but also its cultural integrity. After all, what makes a nation? It’s culture. What’s the point of protecting a nation physically, if you don’t protect it psychologically?

UK governments have a blind spot when it comes to culture. In the past, the British were regarded as philistines – if not barbarians. When the ruling class went abroad to conquer and pillage, they showed little interest in the cultures they were despoiling. They couldn’t see the value in culture. What was the bally point of it? It wasn’t meaningful like hunting, shooting, fishing or military campaigns or the Royal Navy.

Our European neighbours thought differently. Their ruling classes revered culture. It was a badge of good breeding to take an interest in – and patronize – composers, painters, sculptors, poets, architects, dancers and so on.

Because of the British establishment’s philistinism, we produced relatively little ‘high art’. In the past, when a British aristocrat needed a painting done, he would often send abroad for a Van Dyke or a Rubens to do it. If he wanted a country house, he’d send his man to Italy to copy the work of Italian architects. If a musical concert were required, he’d secure the services of a Handel or a Haydn. It wasn’t until the 19th century that a minority of the ‘superior class’ began to revise their disdain for the arts.

Because of the vulgar and insensitive character of the British ruling class, most of our artistic innovations and developments came from (ironically) the oiks. British painting, design, poetry, music, dancing, story writing and theatre were largely produced from the ranks of the yeomanry and – later, in the 18th century – the middle and lower classes. William Shakespeare was the son of a small town alderman; Christopher Marlowe’s dad was a shoemaker; Thomas Nashe was the son of a curate; Ben Johnson’s father was bricklayer. William Congreve was the son of an Irish soldier; Daniel Defoe’s pater was a tallow chandler (sold candles), and John Milton’s dad was a scrivener (legal secretary).

In the 18th century, Keats, Shelley, Coleridge, Southey, Wordsworth, Jane Austen, and Charlotte Bronte were all middle class. It was rare for an artist to come from the ‘nobility’ – Lord Byron was an honourable exception. Nor were these ‘middling and lower class’ writers patronized by ‘Quality’; they earned their living by writing for commoners. As a result, most British art was ‘low art’. Rowlandson and Gilray were “low” artists; Geoffrey Chaucer, William Blake, John Clare, John Donne, and Robbie Burns were “low” poets.

Britain’s history of “low culture” distinguishes it from the rest of Europe, where “high culture” was more the norm. The culture of Britain is pretty much proletarian – apart from some Church patronage, which produced composers such as Henry Purcell, and a vast number of forgotten organists.

Charles Dickens was a lower-middle class man writing for proletarian audiences; Gilbert and Sullivan, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Arthur Conan Doyle all aspired to be ‘gentlemen’ – and achieved this ambition through the commercial success of their work – but they were born common and wrote for common audiences. This low culture tradition has continued into modern times with composers like Lennon and McCartney, Ray Davies, Pete Townshend, Roger Daltry, David Bowie, Freddie Mercury, and Morrisey; artists like Francis Bacon and David Hockney, and designers like Vivienne Westwood.

So, maybe the reason our government won’t protect British Cinema is because our government officials (the executive branch of the ruling class) don’t care for art or culture because most of it’s a product of the lower classes. The only culture supported by the establishment is museum culture – that is: “heritage” – preserving relics of the upper class past (not the proletarian past), and mostly foreign, 19th century opera and ballet, which provide a milieu for ruling class socializing. No doubt, if opera and ballet became fashionable among the plebs, the government would stop subsidizing it.

Let’s be clear how serious it is that our government doesn’t support British Cinema (and don’t be fooled if someone tells you the UK Film Council supports British Cinema – it doesn’t; most of its money goes in enormous bribes to Hollywood producers to make their films in Britain).

It’s serious that government doesn’t protect British Cinema because film is the greatest art form – the greatest medium for cultural expression – ever devised. A motion picture combines almost all the arts: writing, acting, poetry, theatre, painting, music, dancing, stage design, costume design, architecture, graphic design, the decorative arts, and the new arts of film directing, editing, and special effects.

So, is our government’s indifference to cinema (the greatest cultural medium we have) due to films being proletarian and therefore contemptible? No, this can’t be true because a significant minority of the British ruling class actually fell in love with cinema.

In the 1920’s and 30’s, the ruling class despised movies because they were popular. At that time, British filmmakers were lower or – at best – lower-middle class people like Edgar Wallace and Alfred Hitchcock. No one who’d attended a public school was likely to admit to seeing a film; their entertainments were opera, ballet, theatre and orchestral recitals. But, by the late 1930’s this changed.

Sir Winston Churchill, a flower of the British ruling class, was an enthusiastic fan, as were King Edward VIII and Henry Herbert, the 17th Earl of Pembroke. The Rank Organisation, Britain’s largest movie studio, was founded, in 1937, by two scions of the upper class: J. Arthur Rank, the patrician son of a flour baron (Hovis) and Lady Anne Henrietta Yule, a close friend of King Edward and Mrs. Simpson.

After the Second World War, lots of ex-public schoolboys renounced the civil service and the law in favour of careers in films. Directors Carol Reed, the Boulting Brothers, Basil Deardon and Lindsay Anderson all went to public school.

By the late 30’s, when the upper class deigned to grace the British film industry with its favour, it had grown into a rich and thriving industry. From when British Lion set up shop in 1919, to when the British government pulled the plug in 1969, this one company released 552 movies – an average of 11 films a year.

Because of studios like British Lion, the Rank Organisation, and Associated British Pictures – each of them putting out close to a dozen films a year – it was possible for film directors, writers, actors and technicians to have life-long careers in British films. They didn’t have to go to Los Angeles to look for work.

Carol Reed (The Third Man, Our Man in Havana) directed 33 films; (Charles Crichton (The Lavender Hill Mob, The Titfield Thunderbolt) directed 35 films; Basil Deardon (The Green Man, The League of Gentlemen) directed 44 films. The now-forgotten Leslie Hiscott (Sabotage At Sea, The Butler’s Dilemma) directed over 60 British films. The actor John Le Mesurier – just one example – was in over 100 British movies.

And British Cinema produced lots of stars. Today, if you want to put a play on in the West End, you must get your star from America. We don’t make British stars anymore because we don’t have a British cinema. Have there been any British stars created by British movies since the 1960s? Not really, unless you count Bob Hoskins with The Long Good Friday – a British film that wouldn’t have been released had it not been picked up by Paramount.

You might argue that, say, Rupert Everett became a star from the 1984 movie Another Country (a British film picked up by Twentieth Century Fox) but that was his debut; he only became a real star after he moved to LA and got work in Hollywood. You might argue that Kenneth Branagh became a star in 1989 from Henry V (a low budget BBC film given a tiny theatrical release by Curzon Cinemas) but, again, this simply got him noticed in Hollywood. You might claim that Daniel Radcliffe became a star from the Harry Potter films – and you’d be right. He did. But the Harry Potter films are Hollywood films – made and owned (in perpetuity throughout the world) by Warner Bros. Inc.

But let’s go back to when Britain had its own cinema and see who some of our homegrown stars were then. If we dissolve back to 1960, we find a plethora of movie stars – enough to guarantee full houses in all the West End, and regional theatres, in the country. Here are just some of them: Margaret Rutherford, Joyce Grenfell, John Mills, Leslie Phillips, Joan Sims, Virginia McKenna, Denholm Elliott, Fenella Fielding, Alec Guinness, Leo McKern, Diana Dors, Terry Thomas, Richard Burton, Dirk Bogarde, Peter Sellers, Laurence Olivier, Joan Greenwood, Hermione Baddeley, Moira Lister, Oliver Reed, Dennis Price, Michael Hordern, Robert Shaw, Michael Redgrave, Robert Morley, Laurence Harvey, Paul Scofield, Richard Harris, Tom Courtenay, Leslie-Anne Down, George Formby, Peter Ustinov, Peter Finch, Harry Andrews, Maxine Audley, Nigel Stock, Eric Porter, Noel Coward, Dinsdale Landen, Bernard Cribbins, Patrick Wymark, Shirley-Anne Field, and Moira Redmond…

Sometimes there’s confusion about what is and what isn’t a British film. Some claim (especially politicians like Tony Blair) that a film is British if a British company produces it. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is like saying a Ford Fiesta or a Honda Civic is a British car because it was made in Britain. These are not British cars; they are not products of British culture.

The cars we used to produce, when we had a car industry, like the Rolls Royce, Mini Minor, Wolseley, E-type Jaguar, Morris Oxford, Bentley, Austen Healey, Aston Martin, and Bedford van were British cars – products of our culture; and they contributed to our British identity, which is what culture does.

Likewise, when we had our own indigenous film industry, it contributed to our identity in a big way. Movies, like all art forms, hold a mirror to nature. In British films, we saw ourselves depicted, our values expressed, our issues debated.

In, for example, I’m All Right, Jack, starring Peter Sellers (British Lion, 1959) we are presented with the conflict between British trade unions and the ruling class, done with insight, humour, and attention to the details and idiosyncrasies of different British types.

Above all, when we had British films, British people were the protagonists – and the stories and subjects related to British life. This gave us a sense of our society, our place in the world, where we fitted in and where we didn’t; what kind of person we wanted, and didn’t want, to be.

John Donne wrote: “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” When we had our own cinema we could see that continent; it was constantly being illuminated for us, and new aspects of it revealed, by successive films, brought to us by writers, actors, directors and producers with talents for observing and describing our society. This is culture – the thing not valued and tossed away by government – and it is this that gives us identity, security and purpose as a nation.

So why are films produced by British companies not British films? Because if you produce a British film for a Hollywood studio, the studio executives call the shots: the film’s sensibility must be American, or designed to interest Americans. Four Weddings and a Funeral is a case in point: a film that depicts an American view of the British.

At present, it’s almost impossible to make British movies because there are no British movie studios. In Finland, where the government protects and subsidizes Finnish films, there are two major Finnish film studios and one mini-major. In Britain there are none. Sometimes a misunderstanding arises here because production houses, such as Pinewood and Shepperton, are referred to as ‘film studios’. But a film studio is a company that chooses, finances, markets and releases the films it pays to be made at production sites like Pinewood.

If you want to make a film in Britain, the first company you call is Pathé. Pathé is a French film studio with an office in London. The guys at Pathé are very nice, and they feel sorry for us, but there’s little they can do to help. The reason? The main purpose of Pathé’s London office is to distribute French films. They simply don’t have the time or resources to make more than two or three British pictures a year.

Everyone is grateful to Pathé, but this French movie studio cannot give us a British Cinema. Pathé likes doing business in the UK and wants good relations, so it lets its facilities be used by a few lucky film producers each year; and, as a sop to the constant wailing and gnashing of teeth from frustrated wannabe British filmmakers, the government funnels subsidies through Pathé to fund these few British productions. But this is simply tokenism. You can’t have British cinema without British distributors, and you can’t have British distributors unless at least 10% of the UK market is reserved for British films.

As previously mentioned, the French government mandates that a minimum of 12% of the films released in French cinemas are French. This guaranteed market share supports a French Cinema robust enough to release a hundred films a year and market them world-wide, and distribute them in Britain, and even throw a lifebelt to a few British production companies. Two of Mike Leigh’s most recent movies, Topsy Turvy (Pathé) and Vera Drake (Les Films Alain Sarde), were made possible by the French film industry. Ken Loach’s It’s A Free World and The Wind That Shakes The Barley were both made possible by Pathé.

The Wind That Shakes The Barley, a Ken Loach film made possible by Pathé

If you’re British and living in Britain and want to make a British film but Pathé can’t help you, you have three choices: 1) take your screenplay to a Hollywood studio (which means, they call the shots), 2) take it to a European studio (difficult), or 3) try and put together the budget from a British television company, private investors, the UK Film Council, and various regional, state and EU film funds, and then persuade a sales company to take the film (either before or after it’s finished) to the film markets in Toronto, Milan etc. and sell it, country by country, to local distributors.

This is extremely hard to do (the film Trainspotting was done this way, and the producer said he would ‘never again’). Unless your film is not only accepted by a prestigious film festival, such as Cannes or Sundance, but also wins awards – or the film has something to make distributors want it (such as Johnny Depp’s in it) – you’ll waste your time and lose your shirt.

In most other European countries, when you want to make a film, you take the project to your local film distributors and hammer out a deal. Sure, you might be rejected, but you have somewhere to go. There are distributors (studios) looking for locally made films to finance and release. This doesn’t exist in Britain.

Mind you, even in Scandinavia, France, Spain, Germany, Portugal, Eire, Belgium, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, Slovakia, Switzerland, Poland and so on, it’s hard to get films made. Throughout Europe, Hollywood distributors are dominant. In most EU countries Hollywood has an 85% or better market share. The only exception is Spain.

In 2007, desiring to stimulate economic growth in the Spanish film industry, the Spanish government passed a law protecting 30% of its domestic market for domestic movies. As a result, several Spanish film studios have started up and there’s now a boom in Spanish filmmaking.

This is laudable but the Spanish government’s radical act of protectionism makes little difference to the reality of America’s dominance. America still controls 70% of Spain’s market. Moreover, Hollywood has already subverted the legislation, via loopholes in coproduction deals, allowing movies such as Woody Allen’s Vicky, Christina, Barcelona to be made there, part-funded by Spanish regional grants, and fraudulently qualifying as ‘Spanish’.

As you might expect, the United States protects its own domestic market. But it doesn’t do this by legislation – it doesn’t need to. Virtually 100% of its market is protected by the Hollywood studio cartel. No American cinema chain dares show a film offered to them by a foreign distributor because, if it did, the cartel would put them out of business.

In 1980, George Harrison bankrolled the HandMade Films production of Time Bandits – a brilliant movie directed by Terry Gilliam featuring Sean Connery, John Cleese, Shelly Duvall, Michael Palin, Ralph Richardson, and others. This film was made very economically for about £2million. Test screenings in the UK and the US received high scores. The film looked like a hit. All the Hollywood studios (except for Disney) wanted to buy it.

However, Hollywood business practice is to pay as little as possible for ‘pick-ups’, and no studio would offer HandMade more than £2m for the film. (Something similar happened recently with the FilmFour production of Slumdog Millionaire, which had no choice but to take a deal that – to use Hollywood parlance – ‘fucked it up the ass’.)

George Harrison decided to go a different route. The HandMade team went to the US to try and distribute the film themselves. They sat down with the heads of the US cinema chains who, though pleased to meet George Harrison, were negative about releasing the film in their theatres, for fear of what the Hollywood cartel would do.

To persuade them, HandMade offered them 50% of the receipts for the first two weeks of release – a far better deal than the 5-15% offered by the studios. But the exhibitors still refused.

Believing Time Bandits could succeed even with a heavy financial burden, George Harrison offered to pay for all the exhibitors’ prints and ads. This meant the cinemas would be taking no risk. All they’d have to do was collect and bank 50% of the cash they took from ticket sales (and all the cash they took from the popcorn). This was an offer too good to refuse.

The film was released throughout the US and was a smash hit. Handmade made more than £10million net profit on the theatrical release – equivalent to about £30million today – and the US cinema chains made considerably more.

When HandMade finished their next movie, Privates On Parade, they called their friends, the exhibitors, to discuss releasing it, and were turned down flat, without discussion. The exhibitors didn’t even want to see the film. Hollywood had been incandescent with rage at their ‘betrayal’ and threatened dire consequences if they ever did “another Time Bandits”. So that was that.

Since then, so far as I’m aware, no foreign-owned film has been released in the United States.

So what’s really going on here? Is it just aggressive business competition or is there a hidden agenda? Why does the UK government persist in behaving as if British Cinema ‘doesn’t matter’ because it’s ‘only entertainment’? Why do they maintain the fiction that there’s a “free market”? Why do they claim British people aren’t interested in British films because ‘American films are better’? Why has the British government capitulated utterly to Hollywood, but our European neighbours have not?

Some people say it’s down to language. Language is the most profound element of a culture. Destroy a nation’s language and you destroy the nation. People in Norway want to see at least some films in Norwegian. But we, in Britain, share the same language as the Americans, right?

We wouldn’t like it if, say, 95% of the movies shown in Britain were in German – even if they had subtitles. We’d want to see some films in English. So we’d find a way to make our own films in English. But we don’t need to do this because 95% of our movies are American, and they speak English. No problem.

But there is a problem. We don’t speak the same English as the Americans. I can attest to this because I spent 9 years writing screenplays in Los Angeles and it was very difficult to do because of the language differences. I had to learn to write and speak American. And, even after nine years and 30 screenplays, I was still making mistakes – despite the advantage of having spent six months in grade school in Arizona when I was ten years old.

American is similar to English. We can understand it without (usually) needing a translation. But it’s not the same language. Our language is the most profound expression of our culture; it conditions the way we think. The more it is replaced by American English – with all the assumptions inherent in that language – the more we lose our identity and coherence as a nation.

I’m not anti-American. I love America, and American culture. But I was born and brought up in jolly old England. I’m English and, much as I’d like to, I can never become American – and neither can anyone else who didn’t emigrate to America before they were sixteen.

I respect and love America, but I want to be allowed to also love my own country, and my own culture too. France is only next-door. It has a fantastic culture. There’s nothing more stimulating than taking the Eurostar and getting out at the Gare du Nord in Paris. I’ve often thought how lucky the French are to be French and live in such a beautiful country with such amazing food and art, and only a 35 hour work-week, with an hour for lunch, and two months’ holiday in the Summer, and efficient, elegant high-speed trains, and the best healthcare in Europe, and cheap electricity, and beautiful, seductive women who enjoy philosophical discussions. French culture is awesome – but it doesn’t threaten me. It doesn’t seek to conquer me. It’s live and let live.

The Americans know better than anyone else the true, jaw-dropping power of the movies. They know it because their nation was shaped by it. The vast American continent, populated by clusters of disparate and always-on-the-move immigrants, was – and still is – given a shared reality by Hollywood.

Most Hollywood movies are moral tales: stories about good guys and bad guys; parables and sermons designed to condition human and social behaviour. Like Christianity, the Hollywood religion faces up to the dark side. In the past, Christian preachers horrified their congregations with stories of Hell. Today, we see Hell in the movies. To encourage obedience, the movies (and the broadcast media) scare the pants off us.

In the past, the Church frightened people with threats of eternal damnation if they did not obey the authorities (‘follow God’s laws’). Today, this is done in fictional form by the movies, and documentary form by the media. As Noam Chomsky said (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 15-2-04), “Government policy is to keep the rich happy, and keep the people frightened’.

Hollywood movies, like the old Bible stories, teach us to aspire. But here the Hollywood Church diverges from Christianity. Christianity taught us to aspire to abstinence and self-negation. Virtue was defined as a rejection of luxury, materialism and the ‘sins of the flesh’. If you were a poor Christian, you had a better chance of getting to heaven than a rich Christian. If you had the misfortune to be wealthy, you were urged to be charitable – to give your money away. “Faith Hope and Charity…The greatest of these is Charity.” (1.Corinthians 13:13)

The Hollywood Church takes a different view. Virtue is conferred by money. Getting (and keeping) a hundred million dollars confers virtue and salvation. If St. Francis of Assissi – the model of virtue in the Christian Age – were alive today, he would be despised as a homeless bum loser in need of sedation.

Hollywood preaches American values such as: ‘have fun, look good, look like a ‘good guy’, work hard, and believe in the get-rich ‘American Dream’. The studio executives who decide what movies and TV shows to make and distribute, are the priests, bishops and cardinals of the Hollywood Church; and Los Angeles is the Vatican – the Holy C.

The Hollywood Church is not in the truth business – it’s in the belief business. It doesn’t, for example, tell us that of the 20 richest nations in the world, the United States has the least social mobility (The Spirit Level – Richard Wilkinson & Kate Pickett. Published by Allen Lane.) It doesn’t tell us we have more chance of getting richer in Portugal or Greece than we do in America. It teaches belief in a free enterprise system that does not exist. It teaches: ‘never play by the rules, play to win’. It teaches: ‘violence works’. It teaches hypocrisy: ‘look like a nice guy but be an asshole, because nice guys finish last’. And it provides a template for world domination.

Our own frozen-hearted ruling class got, and pillaged, an empire using the Bible and the Sword. Our American cousins are doing the same with Hollywood and the Sword.

When I was a schoolboy in Scottsdale, Arizona, I remember seeing a map of the United States that included various outlying regions depicted in the same colour. I asked the teacher if these regions, which included the Philippines, Hawaii and Alaska, were American colonies. The teacher was very firm that they were not. ‘America doesn’t have colonies,’ she said. ‘These are American territories.’

Even today, the official line is that America doesn’t have an empire and is not – and never has been – interested in empire building. America is democratic – not imperialist. It certainly doesn’t want to conquer the world. Far from it, it wants to ‘help’ the world. Yet the Pentagon operates more than 700 military bases in over 150 different countries and has divided the world into five ‘combat zones’ – each zone under the command of a U.S. general. And United States military expenditure, excluding Iraq and Afghanistan, is $640 billion per year.

There are US military bases in Belgium, Bosnia, Denmark, Greenland, Serbia, Egypt, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Luxemburg, Portugal, Macedonia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Turkey, Peru, Venezuela and many more. There are 73 US military installations in Germany. There are 24 US military installations in the UK, not including seven RAF bases controlled by the US. And the Pentagon controls our nuclear weapons.

To understand why we’re not allowed our own cinema, we need to understand the reality of the world we live in. Movies are the Bible of the American Empire. They condition the thoughts and beliefs of the subject nations; and we, like the rest of Europe, Egypt, Iraq, Canada, Central America, South America and much of Far East, are a subject nation.

Fortunately, America is (mostly) a benevolent ruler, so long as you don’t defy it. Iran is in trouble right now because it wants to be independent. It refuses to ‘cooperate’ (pay tribute to) the Godfather. If Iran won’t bend the knee, it must be taught a lesson, lest its defiance encourage others to go their own way. America must maintain its credibility. Iran (and the rest of the world) must be clear who’s boss. The alternative, which is the potential disintegration of the American Empire, and an ensuing economic collapse, is unthinkable.

The UK government is not as dopey as it looks. It knows the score. It can never acknowledge that Britain is a vassal of the US because British voters wouldn’t like that. But our government knows full well that its best, and only, policy is to lick (and keep on licking) America’s butthole like a porn star on meth.

So, that’s why the government won’t let us have our own Cinema, and why we are being taken over, bit-by-bit, by American culture.