Socialist Worker

The White King tries too much—and fails as a result

by Sarah Bates
Issue No. 2535

Djata in The White King

Djata in The White King

The White King is a dystopian family drama. It’s set in a world of great technological advances, but the mass of people are repressed into a peasant-like existence.

Young protagonist Djata is growing up in a totalitarian regime, trying to free his “traitor” father from a hard labour camp.

His world is bleak, with relentless poverty, intense labour and a violent school system. And brutal treatment of people in desperate circumstances is not confined to fiction.

At the time of filming on location in Hungary, the government was building a wall to keep refugees out.

Sadly, the film tries to straddle so many genres it doesn’t quite succeed in any of them.

Ultimately it is a muddled story and is neither searing political critique nor good-natured adventure.

It should have tried to cover less ground as it leaves too many unanswered questions.

We are told that there was some kind of uprising 30 years ago, which led to the totalitarian state of the Homeland.

More context would have been more useful.

Actors Jonathyn Price and Fiona Shaw are delightful as always, and shine as Djata’s conflicted grandparents.

I can understand why this book was adapted into a film.

But it has the unfortunate fate of being released in the same era as bigger budget productions such as The Hunger Games and Divergent trilogies that follow a similar theme.

Aside from the implied actions of Djata’s father, The White King does not show anything of the resistance to the regime. That’s a major reason why people like dystopian future dramas—not because the idea of floating cars is particularly exciting for people.

It’s about the idea that people will always challenge the injustice of the existing order and try to shape the world they live in.

Protest for Dummies

Protest For Dummies is an unashamedly political album.

The album cover

The album cover

It never hectors or lectures but will make you laugh, cry, tap your foot and sing along.

“We’re a hardworking band, we’re a hardworking family” Steve and the band declare on this, their third studio album.

Despite the band’s steady gig schedule since their formation in 2009, this is not self-praise. Instead it’s a barbed attack on successive governments’ attempts to co-opt the language of the working class and to divide us into “strivers” and “skivers”.

Musically the band are still occupying that space that’s neither punk nor folk but at the same time is both. It’s similar to the likes of The Men They Couldn’t Hang and The Levellers.

What’s that you say? The world’s gone to hell in a handcart? This band knows a song about that.

Protest for Dummies by Steve White & The Protest Family. Out now.

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Article information

Tue 3 Jan 2017, 15:10 GMT
Issue No. 2535
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