Run time: 155 MINS
Director: Mike Leigh
Cast: Rory Kinnear, Maxine Peake, Neil Bell, Philip Jackson, Vincent Franklin, Karl Johnson, Tim McInnerny, David Bamber, Alastair Mackenzie, James Dangerfield, Eileen Davies, Liam Gerrard, Bronwyn James, Julie Hesmondhalgh
Synopsis: An epic portrayal of the events surrounding the infamous 1819 Peterloo Massacre, where a peaceful pro-democracy rally at St Peter’s Field in Manchester turned into one of the bloodiest and most notorious episodes in British history. The massacre saw British government forces charge into a crowd of over 60,000 that had gathered to demand political reform and protest against rising levels of poverty. Many protestors were killed and hundreds more injured, sparking a nationwide outcry but also further government suppression. The Peterloo Massacre was a defining moment in British democracy which also played a significant role in the founding of The Guardian newspaper.
Internationally acclaimed director Mike Leigh [Mr Turner (2014), Another Year (2010), Happy-Go-Lucky (2008), Topsy-Turvy (1999)] marks the forthcoming 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre through this compelling, magnificent epic with a superb ensemble cast, telling of a peaceful working-class protest and its violent suppression in Manchester in 1819.
In what is surely destined to be seen as one of his greatest films, Leigh’s exhaustively researched, passionate script authentically portrays one of the bloodiest episodes in British history, the infamous Peterloo Massacre of 1819, where government-backed cavalry charged into a peaceful crowd of 60,000 who had gathered in St. Peter’s Field, Manchester, to demand democratic reform.
It is a mostly overlooked incident in history teaching, but such a notorious episode needs to be heard, not least because it still seems highly relevant today. Not a minute of dialogue packed with speeches, monologues and political oratory seems superfluous in the 155 minute running time.
An outstanding ensemble cast depict all the key players in the drama – the Monarchy, Parliament, the Home Office, magistrates, military, spies, constabulary, journalists, trade unions, reformers and the Manchester Female Reform Society.
Mike Leigh regulars – Gary Yershon and Dick Pope – provide respectively atmospheric music and stunning cinematography in this visceral, passionate and uncompromising story of how 18 died and 700 were severely injured as a result of the Government’s policies.
A riveting, eminently watchable masterpiece from one of Britain’s greatest directors.
Images courtesy of EONE