The 10 greatest political films

Do you agree with our list?

This week's Critics is a cinema special, so in honour of the occasion we have compiled a list of the 10 greatest political films. Tell us: do you agree with the list below? Which films would make your top ten?

All the President's Men, dir: Alan J Pakula (1976)

This real-life dramatisation of how the Watergate scandal was exposed makes the NS list not just because it details the work of the hotshot journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (played by Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman), but because it is a fantastic thriller that lays bare the corruption of the Nixon presidency.

Battleship Potemkin, dir: Sergei Eisenstein (1925)

Made in the flood of ideas that followed the Russian Revolution, Potemkin tells the story of a mutiny, and helped shape film as we know it. Although it may be dismissed as Soviet propaganda in some quarters, that only raises the question: how much of what we watch today is propaganda of one sort or another?

Godzilla, dir: Ishiro Honda (1954)

Fans of Stanley Kubrick may protest that his satire on the atomic bomb, Dr Strangelove (1966), did not make our top ten; this is because Godzilla pipped it to the post. Honda's science-fiction tale, made less than a decade after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, is a thinly veiled polemic against nuclear war. And it has a giant monster in it.

In the Loop, dir: Armando Iannucci (2009)

Not only was the Oscar-nominated satire (based on the television series The Thick
of It) proof that British comedy can transfer successfully to the big screen, but its sharp dialogue demonstrated how grotesquely language is manipulated by politicians in the pursuit of power.

Kadosh, dir: Amos Gitai (1999)

Set in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish area of Jerusalem, Kadosh details the plight of two sisters trapped by their community's strict customs. Gitai's stark realism and willingness to confront the harsh truths of Israeli society have made him a controversial figure in his home country.

La Chinoise, dir: Jean-Luc Godard (1967)

An alumnus of Cahiers du cinéma (see Emilie Bickerton's piece, facing), Godard became a more overtly political film-maker towards the end of the Sixties. Loosely based on Dostoevsky's 1872 novel The Possessed, La Chinoise is a portrait of a group of French students with revolution on the mind that vividly renders the excitement - and frustrations - of youthful idealism.

Land and Freedom, dir: Ken Loach (1995)

Following the journey of a young man from Liverpool who volunteers to fight in the Spanish civil war, Loach's film covers similar territory to George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia. What makes Land and Freedom a great work in its own right is its ability to forge compelling drama from the battle of ideas that raged within the anti-fascist movement.

Nashville, dir: Robert Altman (1975)

Centred on the country'n'western music business and a shady political campaign, this two-and-a-half-hour epic was a state-of-the-nation address to the United States as the country approached its 200th birthday.

Strawberry and Chocolate, dir: Tomás Gutiérrez Alea (1994)

The world-renowned Cuban director trod a fine line between supporting his country's revolution and taking a clear-eyed look at Cuban society. Fresa y chocolate is about a university student who is befriended by a gay artist resisting the Castro regime's persecution of homosexuals.

The Battle of Algiers, dir: Gillo Pontecorvo (1966)

The Italian director's gritty, black-and-white study of Algeria's anti-colonial war against France is an uncompromising look at the politics of independence struggles. It also serves as a warning to armies that seek to crush guerrilla movements - the Pentagon screened the film for staff shortly after the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Ukip's Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall. Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

Is the general election 2017 the end of Ukip?

Ukip led the way to Brexit, but now the party is on less than 10 per cent in the polls. 

Ukip could be finished. Ukip has only ever had two MPs, but it held an outside influence on politics: without it, we’d probably never have had the EU referendum. But Brexit has turned Ukip into a single-issue party without an issue. Ukip’s sole remaining MP, Douglas Carswell, left the party in March 2017, and told Sky News’ Adam Boulton that there was “no point” to the party anymore. 

Not everyone in Ukip has given up, though: Nigel Farage told Peston on Sunday that Ukip “will survive”, and current leader Paul Nuttall will be contesting a seat this year. But Ukip is standing in fewer constituencies than last time thanks to a shortage of both money and people. Who benefits if Ukip is finished? It’s likely to be the Tories. 

Is Ukip finished? 

What are Ukip's poll ratings?

Ukip’s poll ratings peaked in June 2016 at 16 per cent. Since the leave campaign’s success, that has steadily declined so that Ukip is going into the 2017 general election on 4 per cent, according to the latest polls. If the polls can be trusted, that’s a serious collapse.

Can Ukip get anymore MPs?

In the 2015 general election Ukip contested nearly every seat and got 13 per cent of the vote, making it the third biggest party (although is only returned one MP). Now Ukip is reportedly struggling to find candidates and could stand in as few as 100 seats. Ukip leader Paul Nuttall will stand in Boston and Skegness, but both ex-leader Nigel Farage and donor Arron Banks have ruled themselves out of running this time.

How many members does Ukip have?

Ukip’s membership declined from 45,994 at the 2015 general election to 39,000 in 2016. That’s a worrying sign for any political party, which relies on grassroots memberships to put in the campaigning legwork.

What does Ukip's decline mean for Labour and the Conservatives? 

The rise of Ukip took votes from both the Conservatives and Labour, with a nationalist message that appealed to disaffected voters from both right and left. But the decline of Ukip only seems to be helping the Conservatives. Stephen Bush has written about how in Wales voting Ukip seems to have been a gateway drug for traditional Labour voters who are now backing the mainstream right; so the voters Ukip took from the Conservatives are reverting to the Conservatives, and the ones they took from Labour are transferring to the Conservatives too.

Ukip might be finished as an electoral force, but its influence on the rest of British politics will be felt for many years yet. 

0800 7318496