Rewned for making films that are at once sly domestic satires and heartbreaking 'social realist' dramas, British writer-director Mike Leigh confronts his viewers with an un-romanticized dramatization of modern-day society in the hopes of inspiring them to strive for greater self-awareness and compassion for others. This collection features new, interdisciplinary essays that cover all phases of the BAFTA-award-winner's film career, from his early made-for-television film work to his theatrical releases, including Life is Sweet (1990), Naked (1993), Secrets & Lies (1996), Career Girls (1997), Topsy-Turvy (1999), All or Nothing (2002), Vera Drake (2004), Happy-Go-Lucky (2008) and Ather Year (2010). With contributions from international scholars from a variety of fields, the essays in this collection cover individual films and the recurring themes and motifs in several films, such as representations of class and gender, and overt social commentary and political subtexts. Also covered are Leigh's visual stylizations and storytelling techniques ranging from explorations of the costume design to set design to the music and camerawork and editing; the collaborative process of 'devising and directing' a Mike Leigh film that involves character-building, world-construction, plotting, improvisations and script-writing; the process of funding and marketing for these seemingly 'uncommercial' projects, and a survey of Leigh's critical reception and the existing writing on his work.
Bryan Cardinale-Powell is Visiting Professor of Moving Image Arts at Oklahoma City University, US. Marc DiPaolo is Assistant Professor of English and Film at Oklahoma City University, US.