Friday, November 02, 2018

No More Peterloos! Film Review of Peterloo

An excellent start to Leeds International Film Festival 2018. 5/5  Peterloo directed by Mike Leigh.

The PeterlooMassacre took place in Manchester 16 August 1819, a peaceful demonstration for Parliamentary Reform was attacked by the Yeomanry (Militia Cavalry) & later regular Cavalry. Hundreds were injured 19 dead.  It cast a long shadow the cry of 'No Peterloos' being heard in the subsequent Chartist Movement. 

Wish I had had time to do some reading before the film but alas baiting kippers, brexists, fascists, party droids neoliberals tories & fundies on Twitter does tend to take up time. Of course if nobody is prepared to argue with them the fascists will win by default & alas fascism is still rising in Europe & Amerika.

It is remarkable that not one film has been made about the Chartists. Peterloo also is a story that should be told. Mike Leigh is to be congratulated. Historical films in general that tell the story of our ancestors as opposed to kings queens & battles from the standpoint of Generals & the ruling class are a bit or a rarity.

I appreciate absolutely that a historical film cannot be a documentary, or indeed a drama documentary, it has to have a certain poetic licence while not playing dangerously fast and loose like the appalling anglophobic works of Mel Gibson. As someone vaguely familiar with Peterloo it certainly feels fully authentic.

The Sequence near the beginning with a series of magistrates dispensing a string of class justice really set the scene & set the context as did the opening on the battlefield of Waterloo with a soldier returning to his sister in Manchester.

Whenever anyone asks me who was in a film I just want to scream! One of the great things about Team America World Police by Parker & Stone was that there was a distinct lack of actors & the Hollywood stars were mocked mercilessly. In answer to one question at tonight’s Q&A Mike said he had made films before where a couple of performances have really carried the film but for this subject an ensemble performance was perhaps quite appropriate. I am inclined to agree.

Historical drama especially outdoors is costly & needs to be got right. This it would seem Mike Leigh has managed. The film also holds attention pretty well throughout. A wonderful journey into the past how we used to live and an appalling piece of our history.

The best historians as the best filmmakers are firmly focussed on the future.  At the moment at least there is a right to Peaceful Protest though with an anti human rights extremist as Premier we must be vigilant.  I am proud to have had some role in organising a peaceful protest here in the 'Desolate North' and to be part of the Greatest Pro-Democracy movement since the Suffragettes.  Onwards to the Peoples Vote & the better world that the Reformers at Peterloo struggled so hard for.

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