Film

The representation of youth in Eden Lake

Eden Lake has to be one of my favourite ever films and the fact that it’s British is even more pleasing. It’s about a couple, Jenny and Steve (Michael Fassbender & Kelly Reilly) who’ve decided to go for a weekend break but are troubled and then tortured by a group of teenagers. It represents the UK youth in a very negative way and I wanted to discuss whether it’s accurate.

Michael Fassbender (Steve). Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr
Michael Fassbender (Steve). Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

One of the most significant aspects of the film is the violence, which the gang members show. There’s a scene, in which Fassbender is tied to a tree and the teenagers set him of fire. There’s much more but I don’t want to get too graphic- I will say that they get extremely violent. Towards the end of the film, the members turn on their leader, Brett (Jack O’Connell), so he resorts to punching and kicking them repeatedly. The representation of the youth is clear from this.

Another very common trait of the teenagers is swearing. For about 90% of the sentences, which they say, there’s a least one swear word. Even when they are not swearing, the language they use is extremely aggressive and often offensive. This is why, for me, the film is so powerful. Throughout the vast majority, the teenagers are the symbol of evil.

Jack O'Connell (Brett). Photo: quicheisinsane via Flickr
Jack O’Connell (Brett). Photo: quicheisinsane via Flickr

Eden Lake is certainly not the first film to portray the youth in this way. Kidulthood and Adulthood are the same and I’m sure there are many more. Many people are still worried about the amount of crimes committed by teenagers and these films were made to portray that concern. The London Riots is a perfect example of why the representations are accurate.

The ending of Eden Lake is quite interesting. Brett is told to go to bed by father and he refuses, then his father hits him. The implied message is that Brett has been negatively influenced by his parents and that is why he acts so violently around others. He goes to his room and he deletes the videos of the gang torturing Fassbender. This presents are more positive outlook on teenagers because the film is implying that they be effected by someone higher than them and they reflect that in their own personalities with bullying and intimidation of associates.

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