In preparation for this article, Year Eight students reimagined Robert Swindells’ novel Brother in the Land as a film…
The latest movie adaptation from the book Brother in the Land by Robert Swindells is a masterpiece of cinema and the closest you want to get to nuclear war. It isn’t set in LA or Chicago, but somewhere more close to home in the English countryside, which makes it all the more chilling. With Jaden Smith as Danny and Millie Bobby Brown as his friend Kim, the film depicts the fight for survival in the hellscape that was Britain.
With Danny’s mother dead and their dad following soon after, they learn how to fight for themselves against Goths and Purples until saved by the sympathetic Branwell (Michael Caine). When the army arrives, it is far from what everyone expects, with them killing off terminals, poisoning spacers and building a concentration camp like structure at Kershaw Farm for anyone unfortunate enough to go.
The film has some scenes which are complete highlights, which makes for an unforgettable movie experience, such as the moment when Danny goes with Charlie to smoke out the ‘badgers’ from their holes. The camera angles mix up chilling point-of-view shots, switching in between Charlie and the ‘badgers’, combined with amazing music, making anything that happens seem like an utter shock. The raid on Kershaw farm complements the film. The dark lighting works well in this scene, the only lights being the spotlights from the watchtower; the only sound is gunshots and screaming.
But even amidst this horror, one scene that stands out from the rest is the cannibal scene. It shows Danny searching for Ben in total darkness with a group of survivors. Danny gets drawn towards to a cloud of smoke; the camera reveals three men and a lady huddled around a piece of meat. Then Ben comes out kicking and screaming on a man’s shoulders, and the realisation of his possible fate is beyond shocking.
Not everything works so well. A big let down is when old antagonist Rhodes pops up toward the film’s conclusion, as Danny hunts in a basement for food. It seems very clichéd and lacklustre, and perhaps the only sour note in the film.
Overall, Brother In The Land isn’t a revolutionary film because it undoubtedly has a couple of flaws. But it’s an excellent film, and the performances from its two young stars alone make it worth the watch.