"I, DANIEL BLAKE"
THE TALE OF A HONEST HUMAN BEING
By Nevin Ulusoy
Education, graduating from a university is of immense importance, but some people may not have this privilege. They have to work with their hands then, they have their labour and fill our lives with the result of their work, because this result is unique in our lives, although we may not notice them much because we take them for granted. However, when a problem occurs, when the time comes they cannot be productive anymore and they need the support of the system, as they have worked in and for the system, what happens then? “I, Daniel Blake” movie asks and answers this question, in the most amazing way that can be imagined.
The film was directed by the British director Ken Loach in 2016. It was released in Cannes the same year. It was the winner of Palme d’Or that year and also won 2017 BAFTA for Outstanding British Film. He won the Palme d’Or twice, with “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” of 2006 as well. He is the ninth director who has won it twice. Loach is famous for his films which make us think of homelessness, the problems of the system for people who have only their labour to earn for a living, what the social system lacks, even in developed countries. Dave Johns acts Daniel Blake and Hayley Squires as Katie, a single mother of a little boy and girl.
A system based on love, sharing and people who can hear the sound of their hearts that is connected to our wonderful planet, is all we need.
Daniel Blake is a skilled carpenter who lives alone, but he cannot work at the moment because of a serious heart attack. His doctor strictly forbids his working, but he needs money of course to maintain his life. He applies to the system then, the welfare system and they want him to do lots of computer work, but as he is an old man, he cannot do them properly. He also meets Katie, who needs the support of the system and London does not want her, because she is homeless. The system has sent her to New Castle to live there, they have given a house to her to live with her children, but it is a demolishing place, with no electricity, because she cannot pay it. Daniel helps her as much as he can, she looks for a job but cannot find a suitable one. They visit a food bank and she nearly faints there. She has an offer one day, the inevitable result of being a poor and beautiful woman, as Victor Hugo mentions in his great novel “Les Miserables”, “being poor is more difficult for women, because they would have to sell their flesh”. But we must not forget that in this system, the same matter is also true for men, as we see in “I Don’t Kiss”(J’embrasse pas), the French film of Andrés Téchiné, where a country boy goes to Paris to become an actor but ends by selling his flesh. Daniel is in utter helplessness and one day he sprays on the wall “I, Daniel Blake, demand my appeal date before I starve”. He has to prove that he looks for a job, but the system, personified by robot-looking civil servants, is never satisfied.
The welfare system is not for the well-being of people, but of the system and treats people as if they were “dogs” as Daniel writes in his letter. He has never been lazy, has always paid his taxes, has tried to be a good citizen as well as he can and he has been a perfect example for everybody around him. In “The Animal Instinct”, The Cranberries unforgettable song, we see children taken from the mother because she has not got the financial means to look after them. Because the system does not take people in consideration but itself, problems that can be solved in an absolutely humane way have tragic results. A system based on love, sharing and people who can hear the sound of their hearts that is connected to our wonderful planet, is all we need.