The Selfish Giant

December 22nd, 2013

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The Selfish Giant

The Selfish Giant is a contemporary fable about two scrappy 13-year-old working-class friends in the UK who seek fortune by getting involved with a local scrap dealer and criminal, leading to tragic consequences.

Release Year: 2013

Rating: 7.5/10 (595 voted)

Director: Clio Barnard

An official selection at the Cannes Film Festival, The Selfish Giant is a contemporary fable about 13 year old Arbor (Conner Chapman) and his best friend Swifty (Shaun Thomas). Excluded from school and outsiders in their own neighborhood, the two boys meet Kitten (Sean Gilder), a local scrap dealer. Wandering their town with just a horse and a cart, they begin collecting scrap metal for him. Swifty has a natural gift with horses while Arbor emulates Kitten - keen to impress him and make some money. However, Kitten favors Swifty, leaving Arbor feeling hurt and excluded, driving a wedge between the boys. As Arbor becomes increasingly greedy and exploitative, tensions build, leading to a tragic event that transforms them all.

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Rating: 10/10

The Selfish Giant shows basically how capitalism works: not by making an academic movie with statistical figures, but by telling the highly capturing dramatic story of two teenagers in an English community who need to collect scrap to make ends meet.

They are no longer motivated in studying, because the bills need to be payed by the end of the month. At school they are expelled because of their frustrated behavior. Their family is in ruin due to the stress caused by not earning enough money.

In their quest for scrap they see how the best thief's also gain the most money. So eventually they turn to criminal behavior. Not by choice, but by necessity. Making money becomes separated from doing 'the right thing' to do.

The director does a good job not telling this as a straight forward moral tale, nor using sentimental 'tricks', nor trying to pretend that all ends well. But telling it as an illustration on a human level in an ordinary community where the downside of our economic model is not theory but reality.

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