Starring:Les Falco, Mickey Taheny, Danny Woollard. UK. 1m 21m
While recently trying to work out the criteria of distinguishing a documentary from something that is merely something shown on the TV rather than in the cinema, and putting it down to just how gripping they might be, I start reeling through a pantheon of documentary movies that I adore and one of the more difficult ones to find and the one I enjoyed the most is The End.
After twigging the 1 minute advert on an old DVD it had me hooked and yet I could never actually catch the title until I realised that the caption at the end of the preview wasn’t simply signifying the end of the advert but it was actually the title…*doh* after working out that little gem I was away to find a copy.
Against the backdrop of the East End of London and through the cockney slang and threats; the grimy black and white feature told through voices of the actual characters that made up the firms and gangs, all gathered together by budding director Nicola Collins to tell their stories. A few faces are pretty familiar and have appeared in London Gangster films, and who have certain claims to fame. The others are more of a local phenomena and then there are the names who you hear about and only in the newspaper headlines like Victor Dark. Together they slowly map out the past of the criminal underworld from their school days and meager beginnings until their often reformed and changed adult lives with a sophisticated intimacy.
I thought of myself as a Robin Hood, everyone else thought I was a robbin bastard.
It’s absolutely fascinating seeing them detail personal stories and even though they are all familiar with each other the interviews are independent but you can tell that this is one big family, based on respect and to a certain measure of bravado. But it must have been a dream for the creator, as all of these amazing gentlemen have such a wonderful character and willingness to talk… to a degree. Expect a host of information, anecdotal insights and some cherished golden memories but don’t expect the deep dark secrets these are reserved for round the pub table banter.
Hearing about the harsh backgrounds and bitter childhoods and to see the “success” stories it’s hard not to see this a British GTA rags to riches story. But it’s not glorified in any way there is a sense that it was an era that has had its time and is firmly over. As the violent tales reaches a crescendo things start to reveal the new current East End, the familiar faces have moved away and you’re left with a romantic bewilderment.
The film is fully subtitled for those who don’t get the east end accent and of course the Krays are mentioned time and time again but only by those who really knew them, and the sense that this film gives is that it was a tight knit community built on an unusual set of morals but they are solid as any gypsy fighter.
It’s gripping, poetic and highly forceful entertainment.
R – Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998),
L – Documentary Movies, Modern Black and White Films, London Gangster Films.
A –When is a Documentary a Movie?