Bread in the Movies


A quick search on IMDb tells us that there are over 200 movies or TV shows that refer to Bread! The range is broad and varied to say the least, from the iconic 1980’s Sitcom about the Boswell family in Liverpool to the Oscar-nominated and multi-award-winning animated feature “The Breadwinner” which was made by Irish company Cartoon Saloon. It is set in Afghanistan in 2001 and tells the story of a determined young girl who disguises herself as a boy to provide for her family.

We can go right back to the silent era and in 1918, the film “Bread” told the story of a naïve country girl ventures to New York to become a star. Soon she runs out of money and with her last pennies buys a loaf of bread that is knocked from her hands and lands on a passing car. She wanders the streets until she spots her loaf through a café window.

In 1930 “Bread” told the story of a demobilized Red Army soldier who returns to his village in Ukraine. Inspired by the spirit of collectivism, he ploughs a field and sows it with grain so that the community can make loaves of bread. When the grain sprouts, the soldier’s father admits that his son was right; for the sake of building a new world, the old laws of the universe should be broken. Very poignant today.

There are quite a few short movies too, all called Bread. Some dealing with bread rationing in post war Germany. Others more light-hearted about a slice of bread that tries to leave the bread board before falling in love with a peach! (Personally I would have liked this one better if the slice had fallen in love with butter, seems like a match made in heaven!).

So why is it that bread is so central to so many films and TV programmes? It’s probably because bread is an essential part of a staple diet. We know that bread equates with sustenance or nutrition as well as being associated with having enough money – earning a crust. Researchers at UCD found that 89% of people said the smell of bread made them happy.

We haven’t even looked at movies that feature bakeries or with the word “Dough” in the title – there’s a great one with Charlie Chaplin -  but perhaps we’ll leave that until another time. 

In the meantime, get out the popcorn!


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