Published On: Thu, Oct 3rd, 2019

Armando Iannucci: ‘We’ve got anarchists at the head of government’ | Ents & Arts News

Satirist and director Armando Iannucci told Sky news he believes “we’ve got anarchists at the head of government at the moment”.

Speaking at the launch of his new film The Personal History Of David Copperfield, which opens this year’s London Film Festival, Iannucci also said: “What’s worrying now is that the concept of law is a movable feast really: it’s the law if you agree with it and it’s not the law if you don’t agree with it.”

Iannucci’s take on Charles Dickens’ classic novel David Copperfield stars Dev Patel and is heart-warming, optimistic and ultimately life-affirming.

The director said the decision to make the film was partly “subconscious” because “the discussion about what Britain is at the moment feels very negative, very toxic”.

“I wanted something that was celebrating what Britain is – the life and creativity, the fashion, the music,” he said.

Dev Patel stars in the The Personal History Of David Copperfield
Dev Patel stars in The Personal History Of David Copperfield

His cult political show The Thick Of It was trending on Twitter this week after life seemed to imitate art at the Conservative Party conference.

Boris Johnson had his coffee whipped away from him by a nervous aide who muttered the now immortal words “no disposable cups”, in a scene which could easily have appeared in the hit show.

Iannucci said: “I missed it, and I got home to see (it) was trending on Twitter and I thought, ‘What’s happened, what’s going on?'”

“We’ve kind of gone beyond The Thick Of It,” he said, adding that “at least (the show) had people knowing when they’d breached a code of conduct and therefore trying to unbreach it”.

Armando Iannucci has said the 'concept of law has become a movable feast'
Armando Iannucci has said the ‘concept of law has become a movable feast’

“Now there doesn’t seem to be a code of conduct, now anything goes and I think to a lot of people it feels unreal.

“I don’t quite believe that Boris Johnson is the prime minister, I really don’t. I see it on the TV and I don’t quite believe it, it feels like a fiction.”

The satirist told Sky News the reality of politics is now worse than anything he created in The Thick Of It.

He said: “I found the most sympathetic character was actually the elected minister. It’s the people around them telling them, ‘No, don’t do this’, the person taking the coffee cup going ‘disposable’ that was the problem then, but none of them committed crimes.

Referencing the show’s potty-mouthed spin-doctor Malcolm Tucker, Iannucci said he and the other characters “were trying not to be found out but fundamentally they were still obeying the law”.

Reflecting on the current Conservative government, he said: “We’ve got anarchists, we’ve actually got anarchists at the head of government.”

Peter Capaldi, who Malcolm Tucker in The Thick Of It, plays Mr Micawber in Iannucci’s new film.

Peter Capaldi, left, and Dev Capaldi, right, star in the film
Peter Capaldi (L) and Dev Patel in the film

The Personal History Of David Copperfield premiered on Wednesday night, and the London Film Festival’s director Trisha Tuttle said beforehand that it was a very fitting way to start the internationally-renowned event.

She said: “Everyone knows Armando as a sharp political satirist and he’s so wonderful at that, you’ve got the humour we know and love him for, but there is also a real tenderness to the film that I don’t think we’ve seen in the last couple of films.

“He said he wanted to make a film that all audiences could enjoy and I think he’s absolutely delivered that.”

Ms Tuttle told Sky News this year the festival has 233 feature films from 78 countries, and 40% of the films in the festival are directed by women.

She added that this year “there are lots of strong socially and politically urgent films”.

Ms Tuttle added: “That’s not to say they aren’t fun or they aren’t audience-friendly because I think they are.

“What’s really exciting about this year’s programme is you’ve got films like The Personal History Of David Copperfield or something like Jojo Rabbit (a Second World War satire) – these are all big audience films but they also tackle social and cultural issues.”

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