Ginger and Rosa, and CND too.
Ginger and Rosa is the warmest and best political film to come out this year.
It is set in 1962 . Two girls – Ginger (Elle Fanning) and Rosa (Alice Englert) – grow up in half-ruined, half cosy post war London. They are inseparable. Now a teenager Ginger has loves poetry, and cites Simone de Beauvoir. Her friend in more interested in having a good time.
They skip school, talk about religion (Rosa is a Christian), and politics and look down on their mothers.Rosa’s is a single parent living in a block of council flats. Ginger’s mum is married to Roland Alessandro Nivola) and has moved to a substantial terraced house. He is a pacifist activist who served time in prison for his refusal to fight in the Second World War. A lecturer, Roland disappears with female students for long periods.
The Cold War is the backdrop to the drama. Rosa, sensitive to her bones, becomes obsessed with the danger of nuclear war. She joins Young CND. There is a memorable scene where a young activist addresses his audience with the words, “As Engels said, ‘What is to be Done?”.
The drama unfolds as the ‘autonomy’ that Roland lectures, or rather assumes for his every choice, meets an enthralled Rosa.
The film lays bare a whole host of sexual and moral dilemmas. Friendship, sexuality at the cusp of adulthood, and responsibility to others, are just some of them. Roland’s circle of generous and acute pacifists are there to remind us of what the latter could be.
The backdrop, the CND’s response to the threat of a nuclear holocaust, has another, deep, historical resonance.
It is a reminder of the importance the Ban the Bomb protests have played in Britain, not just in the 50s and early 60s, but in the 1980s. In the picture Bertrand Russell’s name crops up all the time. He was, some might remember, not just the best known supporter of the 1950s campaign but the author of Proposed Roads to Freedom: Socialism, Anarchism and Syndicalism (1918).
Roland’s narcissistic pacifism, and Ginger’s good-hearted feelings, could be said to be important strands in these movements.
The dénouement of Rosa and Ginger leaves the viewer with a lot to think out.