Friday, June 12, 2020


Mike Leigh: Peterloo (2018). Neil Bell, John-Paul Hurley, Philip Jackson, Rory Kinnear, Tom Gill. © Simon Mein. Please click on the photo to enlarge it.

To Henry Hunt, Esq., as chairman of the meeting assembled in St. Peter's Field, Manchester, sixteenth day of August, 1819, and to the female Reformers of Manchester and the adjacent towns who were exposed to and suffered from the wanton and fiendish attack made on them by that brutal armed force, the Manchester and Cheshire Yeomanry Cavalry, this plate is dedicated by their fellow labourer, Richard Carlile: a coloured engraving that depicts the Peterloo Massacre (military suppression of a demonstration in Manchester, England by cavalry charge on August 16, 1819 with loss of life) in Manchester, England. All the poles from which banners are flying have Phrygian caps or liberty caps on top. Not all the details strictly accord with contemporary descriptions; the banner the woman is holding should read: Female Reformers of Roynton -- "Let us die like men and not be sold like slaves". 1 October 1819. Source: Manchester Libraries. Author: Richard Carlile (1790–1843). From: Wikipedia.

GB © 2018 Amazon Content Services, LLC / Film 4 A Division of Channel Four Television Corporation / British Film Institute. P: Georgina Lowe.
    D+SC: Mike Leigh. Cin: Dick Pope – digital (HD) – Leitz Summicron-C lenses – colour (ACES) – 1,85:1 – release: D-Cinema. PD: Suzie Davies. AD: Dan Taylor, Jane Brodie. Set dec: Charlotte Dirickx. Cost: Jacqueline Durran. Makeup and hair: Christine Blundell. M: Gary Yershon. S: Lee Herrick. ED: Jon Gregory. Historian: Jacqueline Riding.
    C (IMDb):
Rory Kinnear     ...     Henry Hunt
Maxine Peake     ...     Nellie
Pearce Quigley     ...     Joshua
David Moorst     ...     Joseph
Rachel Finnegan     ...     Mary
Tom Meredith     ...     Robert
Simona Bitmate     ...     Esther
Robert Wilfort     ...     Lord Liverpool, the Prime Minister
Karl Johnson     ...     Lord Sidmouth, the Home Secretary
Sam Troughton     ...     Mr. Hobhouse
Roger Sloman     ...     Mr. Grout
Kenneth Hadley     ...     Mr. Golightly
Tom Edward-Kane     ...     Mr. Cobb
Lizzy McInnerny     ...     Mrs. Moss
Alastair Mackenzie     ...     General Sir John Byng
    Locations: UK.
    154 min
    Festival premiere: 1 Sep 2018 Venice Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival
    British premiere: 2 Nov 2018
    Finnish subtitles: Jaana Wiik.
    Corona lockdown viewings / Midnight Sun Film Festival (MSFF) online edition.
    From the MSFF FestivalScope screening platform, viewed at home, Helsinki, on a 4K tv set, 12 June 2020.

Synopsis: "The story of the 1819 Peterloo Massacre where British forces attacked a peaceful pro-democracy rally in Manchester."

Official storyline: "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 protesters 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."

Director's statement (Venice Film Festival: "The strengths and weaknesses of humanity. The eternal struggle of love, care, integrity and commitment against power, corruption, greed and cynicism. If only the fights for true democracy two centuries ago were lost in remote antiquity. But the Manchester massacre, a seminal event in the history of universal liberty, resonates on endless levels with our chaotic 21st-century world. Peterloo is a celebration of the power of hope, and a lamentation on man’s inexhaustible capacity to destroy."

AA: It is a sign of the times that a masterpiece like Peterloo can be viewed in our country only now. I am grateful to Midnight Sun Film Festival for the opportunity to see it online. Of course this historical epic deserves to be seen on a cinema screen as soon as possible.

Mike Leigh has made period films before, and Mr. Turner (2014) even covers the same period. Both films share a lived-in quality, and the people in both feel authentic.

But Peterloo is special because it is a political epic, a reminder that democracy and human rights did not come into being via peaceful evolution. A magnificent demonstration carefully organized to avoid violence ended in bloodshed because of the military intervention of the British cavalry, representing the ruling class.

Peterloo is a tragedy in a great tradition that dates back to Herodotus: the victory in defeat. The courage and the dignity of the people give an immortal model for all who follow.

Epic spectacle always runs the risk of becoming a colossal bore, but Leigh, whose forte is in the intimate psychological study, excels even in this expansive genre. The film is well written, the combination of the historical  and the private well judged. We follow developments from multiple angles. The main approch is realism, but there is also a touch of caricature and satire. It's a difficult equation, but it works, and Leigh here taps into a great British tradition (of Hogarth, Swift, Dickens etc.)

Together with his trusted DP Dick Pope Leigh keeps expanding his visual universe. Like in Mr. Turner there is a painterly approach in the cinematography. Leigh and Pope paint with light inspired by the great artists of the epoch. Digital keeps getting better in fine soft detail and nuances of light and shadow.

I have read that historically the film is considered fair and authentic. I also admire the wisdom in the political dimension. The question of violence is in the heart of the film. Henry Hunt insists that no weapons are allowed, not even for self-defense. This condition is obeyed, but it leads to tragedy.

I have recently studied Tolstoy, and Peterloo is a film that provides much to think from the Tolstoyan viewpoint. Violence begets violence. Even harder it gets when non-violence begets violence. The other Tolstoyan connection is of Napoleon: Peterloo starts with the final defeat in Waterloo of Napoleon, a protagonist of War and Peace. Napoleon and Wellington feature prominently also in the work of Beethoven whose collected works I'm listening this year. I also happen to be listening the fabulous Guardian Lectures by András Schiff on Beethoven. The Guardian was founded in Manchester as a reaction to the Peterloo massacre.

There are many interesting topics in Peterloo. A special feature is the prominent role of police spies and provocateurs in the movement. The police supports violent rabble rousers in order to discredit the movement and to have an excuse to stop and ban people from defending their rights.

A Finnish connection: the industrial revolution reached Finland a bit later, and the biggest industrial center in the North grew in the city of Tampere, specializing in textile industry like Manchester. This is why Tampere received the nickname "Manse" which it still retains although the textile industry is long gone to low-wage countries. Tampere was also a center of radical reform, prominently in the great revolutionary year 1905 which led to universal suffrage, including full political rights for women for the first time in the world.


Ohjaaja: Mike Leigh
Maa: Iso-Britannia
Vuosi: 2018
Kesto: 2.34
Kielet: englanti / tekstitys suomeksi
Alkup. nimi: Peterloo
Kategoria: Aamukeskustelijoiden elokuvat, Brittielokuvat, Mike Leigh, Tekstitetty suomeksi, Uuden elokuvan helmet

Mike Leigh (MSFF): "Olemme ylpeitä saadessamme esittää elokuvan, jonka ansiosta nykyenglantilaisen elokuvan keskeisiin hahmoihin kuuluva Mike Leigh pääsi vihdoin 2015 festivaalin tekijävieraaksi (ks. aamukeskustelu Yle Areenasta). Olimme kutsuneet häntä yli kymmenen vuotta, mutta aina kesäkuussa hän oli estynyt joko syksyllä filmattavan elokuvansa tai ensi-iltaa odottavan näytelmänsä legendaarisen perusteellisten kesäharjoitusten vuoksi. Peterloon, ohjaajalle poikkeuksellisen suurisuuntaisen historiallisen eepoksen, monivuotisiksi venyneet valmistelut mahdollistivat hänelle ”Sodankylä-tauon”."

"Peterloo on tositapahtumiin perustuva perhetarina, joka taustalla myllertää jopa Britanniassa hieman unhoon jäänyt, mutta vaikutuksiltaankin merkittävä, Manchesterissa kaksisataa vuotta sitten tapahtunut verilöyly. Nykypäivään resonoivassa mielenosoituksen tukahdutuksessa nähdään, kuinka 60 000 ihmisen rauhallinen protestimarssi johtaa vuonna 1819 viranomaisten taitamattomuuden vuoksi lukuisten ihmisten kuolemaan ja satojen viattomien loukkaantumiseen."

"Leighille tyypillisen taitavassa näyttelijäjoukossa David Moorst esittää sotilasta, joka saapuu Waterloon uuvuttavista taisteluista ryvettynenä kotiin Manchesteriin, Maxine Peaken tulkitseman äidin hoitaman köyhän kodin hoteisiin. Kaikesta on puutetta ja miesväki väittelee vuolaasti politiikasta, kun kansa valmistautuu mielenilmaisuunsa ja Rory Kinnearin näyttelemä sosialistinen puhuja on luvassa tilaisuuden tähdeksi. Mutta puolin ja toisin mikään ei ole menevä niin kuin on suunniteltu.
" (TM)


"On August 16, 1819 in St. Peter’s Field, Manchester, reformers and working-class people peacefully gathered to demand changes in the British electoral system. In what became known as the Peterloo massacre, they were attacked by constables and soldiers on horseback, killing and maiming hundreds. For a generation, the moment represented the loss of innocence; it was a crucial moment in the history of resistance. Working with cinematographer Dick Pope, a longtime collaborator, Mike Leigh recreates the tragedy as a vibrant, emotionally charged Hogarth engraving come to life. While Leigh’s portrait of aristocratic cruelty and arrogance is Dickensian in its dark comic intensity and satiric edge, it remains honest and clear-eyed about the vanities and illusions of the doomed idealistic progressives it memorializes. Leigh works at a scale unprecedented in his five decades as a director and without any of his familiar stock company, yet the film is as rich, warm and accessible as his most intimate films." –LG (U.K., 2018, 153m)

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