A great way to understand and improve one’s British English is to watch British films. If you are a beginner perhaps watch the films with sub-titles the first time and then watch the film again without the sub-titles and see how much you understand during the second time of watching. By watching these British films your listening and speaking skills will improve. These films also help with vocabulary and pronunciation. You will also learn how English works in day-to-day living. Here are my suggestions of films to help you understand British English
There are seven films in the series of Harry Potter all of which are based on the books by British writer J.K. Rowling. These films show the art of wizardry and follow the lives of Harry Potter and his friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. These friends are all students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Danielle Radcliffe plays Harry Potter, Rupert Grint plays Ron Weasley and Emma Watson plays Hermione Granger. These are great films enjoyed by both adults and children alike and are great to watch to help improve your British English.
This film tells the stories of several couples within the story and tells us about the complexities of all their relationships. Love is the theme of the film and one of these couples include Hugh Grant playing the part of David the Prime Minister of Great Britain and Martine McCutcheon playing one of his staff in Downing Street. This film is a comedy in the run up to Christmas 2003. This is a very amusing film to watch and very British!
CHARIOTS OF FIRE
Chariots of Fire is a historical film and based on a true story. The films tells the story of two athletes who run in the summer Olympics in Paris in 1924. Harold Abrahams (played by Ben Cross) is an English Jew who goes to Cambridge University and has to fight to overcome prejudice within the university. Eric Liddell (played by Ian Charleson) is a devout Christian from Scotland. They are both runners who train to run in the Paris Olympics in the same race until Eric Liddell realises that the heats for this race are on a Sunday and due to his faith, he will not run on a Sunday as he see Sunday as ‘a day for God’. Eric Liddell is allowed to run in a different race (the 400 metres), as the heats are not on a Sunday. The theme of the film was inspired by the words “bring me my chariot of fire” which is sung in Jerusalem, which is a British hymn. This film won four Oscars and a definite must to watch.
This was filmed and released in 2006 and is a drama about the aftermath of Princess Diana’s death and tells the story of how the Royal family dealt with this tragic accident. Helen Mirren played The Queen and Michael Sheen played the part of Tony Blair who was Prime Minister at the time. For those interested in history, this film is worth watching.
FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL
This is romantic comedy and very amusing. The story line follows the adventures of a group of friends on a number of social events as seen through the eyes of Charles (played by Hugh Grant). These friends are single and are looking for romance and as you can gather from the title of the film, these events happen during the course of the film.
This is another romantic comedy made in 1999 and set in a part of London called Notting Hill. William Thacker (played by Hugh Grant) owns a bookstore in Notting Hill. He falls for Anna Scott (played by Julie Roberts) and this film follows their relationship from their first meeting when they collide in the street to their marriage at the end of the film. This is another English film and if you like romantic comedy you will find this very funny.
SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
Jane Austen wrote Sense and Sensibility. This film has Emma Thompson playing Elinor Dashwood and Kate Winslet playing Elinor’s sister Marianne Dashwood. When their father dies, their house is left to their older half brother so Elinor, Marianne and their Mother move to Devon and this films follows their trials and relationships leading to both their eventual marriages with Elinor marrying Edward Ferrars (played by Hugh Grant) and Marianne marrying Colonel Brandon (played by Alan Rickman). This film is well worth watching as it was written by a well know authoress and shows life at the time the book was written in England.
Wimbledon is a very amusing romantic comedy. This film tells the story of the relationship between tennis pro Peter Colt (played by Paul Bettany) and a rising tennis star Lizzie Bradbury (played by Kirsten Dunst). There are many amusing hiccups in this story, which will make everyone laugh and of course is another very English film especially as it is set during the Wimbledon Grand slam tennis tournament.
SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE
This is a romantic drama released in 1998 although it is set in the 1590s and tells the story of a love affair between William Shakespeare (played by Joseph Fiennes) and Viola de Lasseps (played by Gwyneth Paltrow). The cast also includes Colin Firth and Judi Dench. In this film William Shakespeare finishes the play he is working on (which becomes Romeo and Juliet) and the story follows the relationship between William Shakespeare and Viola de Lasseps. This is a period comedy and shows life in England at this time.
THE KING’S SPEECH
The actor Colin Firth played Prince Albert who then became George VI after the abdication of his brother Edward VIII. Prince Albert never expected to be king and he married Elizabeth Bowles-Lyon (played be Helena Bonham-Carter in the film) and they are the parents of Queen Elizabeth II. Prince Albert had a very bad speech impediment and stuttered when making speeches in public. The film tells how with the help of Australian Lionel Louge (played by Geoffrey Rush) and speech therapy, Prince Albert (and then as King George VI) overcame his speech impediment. This is a very powerful and moving film and well worth watching.
Watching films can be both enjoyable and education. By choosing a film that you are interested in will mean that you will watch and enjoy the films chosen. The language used within these films will motivate you and this will help your understanding of British English. The films, in whatever period they are set, will have a variety of language to help you improve and understand all areas of English.