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  • Published in Arts Review
Or Dialectics Downloaded..

The film Half Nelson which stars Ryan Gosling is available on BBC iPlayer until 1am on Friday.

The feature centres on the decent of urban school teacher Dan Dunne into cocaine and crack addiction and dwells on the possibility of salvation.

Dan is the child of two socialist veterans of the Vietnam anti-war movement and he defies the school authorities to teach dialectics and "how change happens" rather than repeating facts from the civil rights movement.

The film hints at his political philosophy - a lover notices that he has a copy of the Communist Manifesto and he is compelled to say "I am not now and I have never been a communist."

However, the radical narrative drive of the film is an examination of his question to his 14 year old students - how does change happen. How does change happen in history - and how will Dan change?

The teacher slides into a symbiotic with pupil Drey (Shareeka Epps) and his drug addled attempts to prevent her being drawn into the drugs underworld provide the final impetus for him to challenge his addiction.

The film was released in August 2006 and enjoyed wide academic acclaim, including a Oscar nomination for Gosling as best actor.