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Swinging London - 1963-1967

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  1. Introduction
  2. Presentation of the Swinging London culture
    1. The importance of music
    2. Other aspects of the mod lifestyle
    3. A critical vision of Swinging London: Blow-Up, by Michaelo Antonioni
  3. Conclusion
  4. Bibliography

The Sixties are usually seen as a period of joy and optimism, especially in England, where they take place between two tougher periods of British history. The Fifties had indeed been quite difficult in the United Kingdom, socially and economically speaking. And during the Seventies, many problems occurred, that were often linked with the economic crisis of these years and the decline of the British power. So the cultural movements of this period were often more pessimistic and violent, such as the punk movement. Whereas the cultural movements of the Sixties seem to have been much more joyful.

That's why Christopher Brooker, a historian, says that ?one of the most obvious things that have built our vision of the 1960's is the fact that these years have been idealized as a kind of golden age that has been lost.? (The Revolution in English Life in the Fifties and the Sixties, Pimlico, 1969).

But behind the Beatles, Carnaby Street and the flowers on the shirts, some of the protagonists of this fascinating time have since adopted a more pessimistic view, and think of all this as nthing but a huge illusion: the illusion of prosperity, freedom and happiness, according to Bertrand Lemonnier. Even Ray Davies, the leader of the Kinks - one of the major bands of that time - said in 1981: ?The Sixties were a lie, a total lie?.

So the Sixties finally seem to be a quite ambiguous period. In order to understand it better, I will therefore first try to present them objectively, and then I will use the famous movie Blow-Up, by Michaelo Antonioni, as a support in order to adopt a more critical point of view.

[...] a variety of these cultural trends that took place in the United Kingdom in the 1960's. First of all, we can say that the British Sixties really began in 1963, with the national success of the Beatles. It introduced a musical revolution, after the rockers of the 50's, and lead to a global cultural evolution, with the development of the mod lifestyle. This pop movement is therefore really linked with music. The importance of music Let's start with the Beatles, who were the first big band of that time. [...]


[...] Indeed, the Mods were completely different from the Rockers, especially concerning their looks. Clothes were something very important for the young Mods. Girls usually wore nice college uniforms, or short hair and masculine clothes. Boys wore elegant suits, ties and nice Italian shoes. They often had coloured shirts and jumpers. Their haircut was very important too. They sometimes also wore black glasses. Above all, their style had to be eccentric, original. On Saturdays, these young people often shopped at Carnaby Street, in London. [...]

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