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After a ten-year absence from the cinema, the English national character is in the frame again, even for US directors. What does England look like now?

By Mark Cousins   March 2006

Three Oscar-nominated films this year attempt a portrait of England. The concurrence of Stephen Frears’s Mrs Henderson Presents, Woody Allen’s Match Point and Terrence Malick’s The New World is a surprise because, beyond travelogue, England hasn’t been a subject for cinema in some time.

Back in the 1950s, the Ealing studio made a series of comedies that seemed bent on capturing something of the English national character. And in the 1980s, the idea of England was used as a starting-point for Merchant Ivory, My Beautiful Laundrette and Derek Jarman’s experimental The Last of England. But that idea seems to have…

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