Was “A Taste Of Honey” a typical film of the British New Wave?


Originated in 1958-1963(Taylor, 2006, p.1), the British New Wave was a postwar string of films aimed at industrial Britain society. The British New Wave films particularly liked to focus their films on class, especially the “1950s..rigid” and predominantly allowed the working class to have a serious cinematic voice rather than seen for comedic value(Wickham, P 2003). British New Waves examples include Don’t Look Back In Anger(Richardson,T 1959), A Kind Of Loving (Schlesinger, J, 1962) and the main topic of discussion A Taste Of Honey(Richardson, T, 1962). I will be focusing on A Taste Of Honey and how it does relate to some New Wave films however also look in to why it does not entirely adhere to the whole movement fully.

Image result for a taste of honey gif

One aspect that illustrates why A Taste Of Honey is a typical British New Wave film is due to the semantic elements. For example, a main feature of British New Wave Films was the fact they were filmed on location, usually in the streets of industrial Britain, and low budget. These methods were aimed to represent the working class and give the films a more realism tone. Geraghty argues A Taste Of Honey in fact “ belongs to the ‘new wave’ of british filmmaking which characteristically drew on northern settings, working-class mores and young aggressive heroes” (Geraghty, 1997, p. 102). This is proven throughout the film as Richardson spent the majority of the time filming in Manchester (Ede, 2010) with the exception of small parts filmed in London. Another significant way in which A Taste Of Honey actually can be considered as a typical New Wave Film is due to characters throughout the movements personas. Phil Wickham describes characters such as ‘Arthur Seaton’ in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning(Reisz, K, 1960) and ‘Colin Smith’ from The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner(Richardson, T, 1962) as the “rough,poor,hedonistic” protagonist(Wickman, P 2003). You could also fit the Taste Of Honey female protagonist Jo, under this judgement as she relates to these male profiles, hedonistic because she is quirky and different and has premarital sex, which not only was heavily frowned upon but Jo is 17,heightening the stigma of her fitting the ‘rough’ stereotype(Lovell, 2010).


However, Jo’s characteristics also lead into why A Taste Of Honey, is actually not a typical film of the New Wave.


This is due to many reasons, most significantly gender. Jo’s strong personality illustrates Richardson’s strong feminist progression throughout this film. This is very different to typical New Wave films as usually they are heavily reliant on male protagonists and the idea of a frustrated male and wanted to add feminist syntactic elements to convey what a more feminist agenda, rather than a society purely based on working class. This is shown in the clip below where Jo explains she is “dreaming big dreams” for her baby on the way. Perhaps symbolising the feminists of the era “dreaming big dreams” for their future, thus Richardson “dreaming big dreams” for a more feminist approach to the New Wave Films. Following this, is idea that Jo’s personality juxtaposes other women featured in British New Wave films in the past. For example, as previously stated, she is unconventional, has a voice, and uses it. Differentiating herself from other New Wave characters such as ‘Barbara from Billy Liar’(Schlesinger, J, 1963) who was more timid and traditional.

In conclusion, although semantically, A Taste Of Honey can be viewed as typical towards the New Wave due to stylistic outlets such as location, “A Taste of Honey must be defined as a feminist text above all.” (Harper, 2000, p. 112). This is because it strives against society’s ideology and pushes a more feminist ideology overall through the protagonists unique personality.


Geraghty, C. (1997) Women and 60s British Cinema: The Development of the ‘Darling’ Girl. In R. Murphy (Ed), The British Cinema Book (2nd ed., pp. 101-108). London: British Film Institute
Geraghty, C. M (2009). Women and 60s British Cinema: The Development of the ‘Darling’ Girl (3rd ed., pp. 313-321) The British Cinema Book. London: British Film Institute.
Harper, S. (2000). Women in British Cinema: Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know. London: Continuum
Lovell, T. (1990). Landscape and stories in 1960s British realism. Screen31(4), 357-376. doi: 10.1093/screen/31.4.357
Richardson, T. (Director). (1961). A Taste of Honey [Motion Picture]. United Kingdom: Woodfall Film Productions.
Richardson, T. (Director). (1963). Billy Liar [Motion Picture]. United Kingdom: Anglo-Amalgamted Film Distributors.
Taylor, B. F. (2006). The British new wave : a certain tendency? Manchester : Manchester University Press. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2FNOnK1.
Wickman, P. (2003). The British New Wave:British Film Institute. Retrieved from: http://www.screenonline.org.uk/film/id/445176/index.html
Peer Review:
The best Screening Europe blog I came across this year was definitely the one belonging to the student UP903550. This is because I believe they tick off all of the boxes when regarding marking criteria such as subject content, tone, presentation, research and referencing. This person’s blog really convinces me they have a good breadth of knowledge over a range of topics and has critically analysed them well showing clear understanding and good language, with only a couple minor spelling mistakes at the start of the blogs. The use of images and clips allowed me to envisualise all the academic arguments they make throughout. It is clear to me this student has taken the time to read on feedback and make amendments to their blogs gradually to improve the read, for example, they have added clips from Box of Broadcasts, allowing us to watch clips to refer to certain scenes they are writing about. Overall, a stunning piece of work with a great aesthetic and evidence of improvement from start to finish.
(An honourable mention to up897490 as I liked how they went for a completely different aesthetic compared to most people, with a more floral, colourful and eye-catching layout and design).

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