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The 1819 Tiananmen Square
keithmmartin-160916 November 2018
This is the first review I've ever done, but was moved to do so by some reviews that I have read on here since watching the film. So apologies to you experts, but here's my tuppenceworth. On the down side, a bit overlong, could have been a bit less wordy and faster paced. But, I left the cinema with the same feeling that I did in the early 70s after seeing Soldier Blue: stunned by the brutality of "the authorities" over the disenfranchised. Forensic in its drama/documentry approach and absolutely true to events (I have since checked various historical sources). This is what happens when people feel they lack a voice and does resonate with today's UK. I thought the lighting was superb and the epic, grand scale setting rare in a UK film. A must watch for teenagers who will not have heard of this event in history at school.
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Protest at St Peter's
paultapner2 November 2018
Warning: Spoilers
The Peterloo massacre of 1819 is not a piece of history that is as well known as it should be. So director Mike Leigh sets out here to do a movie that will educate people on the subject. The story of how a peaceful protest for the rights of the people was brutally suppressed when the authorities, who were terrified of the prospect of Britain having a revolution just like France had, overracted.

In the days when the story took place, not all men could vote. No women could. There were food shortages. The corn laws were causing problems. And people laboured for long long shifts in the mills for a pittance in wages. This was a long time before workplace health and safety as well, although it doesn't actually touch on that as much as you might have expected.

Manchester didn't have a police force. Or an MP. King George the third was unwell. And the prince regent was regularly embarrassing himself.

People could be sent to Australia for what we would now call a petty crime. Or hung.

There were those who wanted change, and they were called reformers. It was the efforts of some to get change that led to the meeting being arranged in the first place.

It's a long film, this, but that's because it takes it's time in explaining all of this. And since the director's aim was to educate and fill in knowledge gaps around this, that's fine. It is quite clever how it gets in details of the corn laws and habeas corpus. And let's be honest, if you asked a random sampling of people these days what the latter is, you might not find many who know.

It shows the magistrates and politicans, who are terrified of change. It shows the Prince Regent. In a very accurate depiction. And the ordinary working class folk. It's grim up north might be a stereotype, so it doesn't hurt to be remind what was fact at the time.

There's a lot of speakers. And speech making. And a fair few characters, who do drift in and out. But steadily, you get used to them. And the whole thing builds a momentum, so when it gets to the point where the protest is beginning, it becomes a hard watch as you know what is going to happen.

None of which will prepare for you the actual massacre, a superbly directed scene that will stay with you for a while.

It ends as best it can after, and the last scene was probably the right way to do such.

The great thing about this is that it does make you think. About rights and things that we do tend to take for granted these days. it will make you want to learn more as well. I was straight onto Wikipedia after to find out more about Henry Hunt.

But it's not hard to follow. So long as you're prepared to use your brain and concentrate. So if you are prepared to give this a chance, you will be well rewarded.
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A worthy film that is both too long and too short.
philbigshop8 November 2018
Warning: Spoilers
This is a long film. This can be forgiven for a film that has both historical significance and contemporary relevance. However, for this film the balance of the story is wrong: there is too much time on the context of the massacre, and not enough time on afterwards. What would I cut - some of the musical preparations. The audience does not need to see so much music practice on the moors. What would I add: more funerals, perhaps a sequence where they blend into each other, scenes showing what little effect the massacre had.

In terms of acting and production values there is little to criticise, though some of the distant backdrops could be spotted.

My overall feeling is that the story needs telling, but that this rendition risks losing a significant part of its audience, and thus the message.
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Look upon it as a history lesson.
chrismonkee30 June 2019
Like most working-class Brits, I knew nothing of Peterloo (and I am from Manchester into the bargain).

Mike Leigh has done an excellent job, documenting this momentous event in British history, an event conveniently airbrushed out of my secondary school education. Imagine that.

A good 2.5 hrs long, it would make a decent 12 part Netflix drama. Though, he'd never get the funding for that.

It is long, it is educational, it is historical, it is incredibly worthy. Watch it and draw parallels with the Britain of today. FPTP electoral system, zero-hours contracts, food banks, Brexit, et al.

i gave it a 9.
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Slow historical drama. A play within a film
alisonchristineacc8 November 2018
A slow work up to the massacre. Incredible massacre scene. Would have like more on the aftermath as the film ended abruptly. Overlong I thought.
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Educational, powerful, beautiful!
phitek-112486 November 2018
If I have a criticism of this film, it would be that it's half an hour too long. Mike can be a bit self indulgent, there where a few scenes that were just there for colour. Technically accomplished, well acted, and faithfully accurate to the history. If you like social history you will not be disappointed.
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I expected Porterloo but was relieved...
thevoodooroom5 April 2019
An interesting look at a little portrayed period of English history. Yes, the climax is harrowing, as it should be, but the lead up to it is engaging, using a series of interesting characters, back stories and even a little humour. The sets and costumes are accurate and they've been true to the accents, giving it an overall realistic feel and giving us an intriguing window into the period. I do like a historical drama and I would say that this delivers, contrasting Waterloo against the the terrible event to come, class against class and friend against friend. Some people have commented that it's a little too long but it didn't feel that way to me. There were some great scenes and dialogue woven into the story, such as the individual courtroom tales, giving a taste of just how harsh the period was and how badly the working class were treated, as well as the polar opposite Prince Regent frames, all of which are tinged with humour and just the right amount of the dramatic character acting along the way. Overall, I'd say it's a well done, atmospheric portrayal of the period and events, with a really good cast. Entertaining and educational.
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Moving Historical Drama
Pairic11 November 2018
Peterloo: In some way this historical drama feels over long yet paradoxically also too short as it devotes little time to the aftermath of the Peterloo Massacre.Too long perhaps because of the vast cast of characters with speaking parts; director Mike Leigh might have better served his viewers if he had combined characters to ease the unfolding of the narrative. Four main magistrates in Manchester, later joined by a score more is perhaps a tad too many; especially seeing as one of them seems to be channeling Rowan Atkinson. But the cruelty of the magistrates, many of whom were clergymen is revealed in how they deal with ordinary people accused of petty crimes.

The film opens in the aftermath of Waterloo as demobbed soldiers make their way home on foot across Britain. one of them is Joseph (David Moorst) who returns to Manchester. Joseph is not well, suffering from what we would now call PTSD, still wearing his old uniform, he staggers around Manchester, fruitlessly seeking work. Through Joseph and his family we see the suffering of ordinary people in those times. The Corn Laws kept the price of bread high, wages were low, unions were suppressed. Another device used to fill in the background is the singing weaver (Dorothy Atkinson) who in two songs gives a potted history of the woes of the common people. But it wasn't just the immediate economic issues which concerned them, there was also a realisation that their lack of a vote prevented them from advancing their interests. Indeed in that era of rotten parliamentary boroughs, Manchester had no representation in the House of Commons. The build up to the Massacre takes up much of the film we see the clerks at the Home Office reading intercepted mail and reports from Manchester magistrates. Informers tell of what is happening at Reform Society meetings; agent provocateurs are sent in to encourage the wilder elements to resort to violence rather than to campaign for reform and the vote.

There are also those merchants and minor industrialists of Manchester who are at the helm of the Reform Movement, they publish the Manchester Observer (forerunner of The Guardian). They bring the reformer Henry Hunt (Rory Kinnear) to speak at the planned Peterloo meeting. Banned by magistrates it has to be put off for a week. The magistrates haven't finished though, they plan attacks on the new meeting and the Yeomanry prepare their weapons, the regular Army is also readied. On the day of the meeting (16 August 1819) which is called to demand Representation of the People and Democracy, 100,000 gather in the Peterloo fields. As Henry Hunt rises to speak a magistrate reads the Riot Act out the window of a building on the other side of the square, unheard by anyone other than his fellow magistrates. The Yeomanry and Hussars ride into the crowd, slashing at people with their sabres, joined by infantry with fixed bayonets. It is impossible for many to escape and eighteen people are killed with hundreds injured. The Government saw this as as a victory, even inking Peterloo to Waterloo. But from this terrible scene the green shoots of democracy grew.

The Yeomanry, Government and local magistrates felt they were crushing, Anarchy,an English version of the French Revolution, the reality was that they were attacking mor a peaceful version of the American Revolution: a protest against taxation without representation. People also maddened by hunger, low wages and repression of their attempts to organise unions. The Massacre is filmed in a choreographed manner without taking away from the slaughter which occurred. Meetings in dark halls and taverns are contrasted with gatherings and marching practice on the bright green and sunny Saddleworth Moor. The talk and debate is also central to the film but at times !9th Century Mancunian dialect may be difficult to follow.

Leigh delivers a vivid historical drama which falls short of being a classic due to being overstuffed with characters. This might better have been related in a six hour TV series. 7.5/10.
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Solid historically and a lesson for us all to remember
ageorge-537167 July 2019
To the member of the ruling class who called this socialist propaganda, I say you have a short memory and little knowledge of history. This is a lesson we need in these time to consider as the gulf of have and have nots widen. The many always will prevail, and if you want to maintain the vestige of your privilege then you should find ways to be a little more "socialist".
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Flat characters, flat camera-work and a flat-out fantastic final act.
Pjtaylor-96-1380444 November 2018
Make no mistake, the atmosphere of 'Peterloo (2018)' is simply stunning, with phenomenal set-design and costuming combining with expert acting and often impressively rural vistas to immerse you in Britain of 1819. The flick feels lacking in the narrative department, though, mainly when it comes to the attachment we have with its proceedings beyond a surface - and, in a way, historical - level. This is because there are a copious amount of characters who don't really have any character, aside from their political views and the way in which they voice them - often through verbose, long-winded and, frankly, sometimes dull (though also sometimes rousing) speeches. The players whom initially seem to be the focus, or become the focus for an extended period of time, tend to fall by the wayside for incredibly long stretches, too; they don't actually have all that much screen-time and often blend together or come out of nowhere mid-way through ( which is an issue perfectly encapsulated by the sheer number of cast members and the fact that they're often credited as a name followed by a descriptor, i.e. 'Tuke, The Painter'). This makes for an experience that lacks a driving force (indeed, I'd be hard-pressed to name the protagonist, even if I had to) and, thus, lacks a sense of story, a sense that this tale had to be told in film form as opposed to being written in a history book. There's also an absence of empathy with any of the people on screen, other than in their function as people (whom, in essence, really existed) that we will (or, rather, should) naturally sympathise with - especially when they suffer. In many ways, the experience seems to get lost within its self. It's clearly a political message, which is fine, but it tends to serve this function far more than it does retell a real-life tragedy in any real depth. It often appears to use its historical founding as a way to push its specific message - perhaps even massaging the truth to do so, though I don't know if this is the case or how accurate the feature is in general. In the process, though, it fails to provide proper nuance and also follows a strange structure simply so that its focal event, portrayed in a jarringly invigorating and appropriately frustrating final act, can be placed at the end of proceedings to mitigate the sense that it led on to anything other than death. This is a move which feels as though it is aching to draw blank parallels to today (as does the rest of the affair) but doesn't really do so, in a macro way, because we have the knowledge that the eponymous event, as unjust and vexing as it truly is, was arguably the first step in achieving the reform that the flick spends so much time talking about and, even if it wasn't, that that reform would still eventually come. It's not like the film is ever particularly boring, per se, just that it isn't as focused or as engaging as it could have been. The camera-work is usually restrained and the editing is sometimes straight-up bizarre, holding on shots of background characters as they watch others talk (whilst barely reacting) for minutes at a time. That's not to say I don't admire unconventional cutting, rather that the editing is often distracting and takes focus away from what you want to be looking at. This mainly occurs during the repetitive speeches, which are usually surprisingly watchable in spite of the way they're sometimes put together (perhaps in an attempt to vary them). They don't ultimately amount to much, though; they don't paint a picture of why the central incident occurred or serve to make us empathise with any of the characters. To be fair, for a two-and-a-half hour affair, the picture goes by pretty quickly. Despite that length, I wouldn't call it an 'epic', though. There's just an almost underwhelming feeling that nothing much has been achieved, that this story could've perhaps been better served. It's not bad, but it's not great. 6/10
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Long but ends powerfully
chas-1088 December 2018
Peterloo is the Best Mike Leigh picture I've seen. Yes it is too long & speech filled but the Manchester massacre of 1819 is horribly dramatic. You see how the forces of the status quo combine to send in the cavalry & yeomanry to charge at peaceful protestors, maiming hundreds and killing 15. The protestors wanted the right to vote, reform in Parliament (Manchester didn't have an MP) & lower food prices. The film is very well shot with an excellent performance as always from Maxime Peake. Oddly after a long build up to the massacre there is no focus on what happened afterwards.
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The crimes of the ruling classes
mhiggott11 November 2018
Quite a long film, but it didn't drag. Tells the story well, but there are really no lead characters, and many of the characters are rather two-dimensional or even caricatures. Visually, it is excellent. I didn't know much about the Peterloo massacre before seeing the film. I now feel educated, and felt that it was two and a half hours well spent, although not a film without flaws. Stronger (more realistically human) characters could perhaps have made the film more engaging, but maybe telling the (hi)story was more important here.
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Gripping and beautifully done
bradnanc4 July 2019
It may be agitprop, but so well-made as makes no matter. The suspense grows to the end and kept me involved. Acting is great. I've read a lot of history from the period (one of the funniest books I've ever read is "George IV" by Philip Ziegler) so generally knew the context, but don't think that background was at all necessary to enjoying it. Not at all too long. Bravo!
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treywillwest19 April 2019
For an avowed and outspoken Marxist, Mike Leigh has always kept the politics of his movies subtle and understated... until now. With his highest budget film ever, Leigh, now in his mid-70s, allows himself one long and fiery tangent against all things reactionary. The film would be about as subtle and relativist in its politics had it been made by a young Sergei Eisenstein. That's not to say it's not damn good, because in most respects it is.

Another way that Leigh and long-time DP collaborator Dick Pope have until recently been subtle and understated is in visual style. Their last film, Mr. Turner, broke with that habit and offered a nineteenth-century England that looked a whole lot like it had been painted by J.M.W. Turner. It was a gorgeous movie to look at, but it's modeling on the painter's work seemed a visual gimmick rather than a style. With Peterloo, Leigh and Pope offer a fully personal visual mastery of the medium. The British landscape has rarely as ever looked so Arcadian on the screen, this despite the fact that this is a gritty tale of difficult, impoverished lives. Performers are blocked within that landscape in ways that subtly suggest their capture by the historical forces around them. If Soviet silent cinema offered a Marxist aesthetic of montage, then this is Marxist mise-en-scene.

Peterloo is also an interesting experiment in cinema as not simply historical narrative but historical excavation and reenactment. Leigh researched the minutes of early nineteenth century political meetings of the British poor demanding democratic reform. Much of the film is composed of word for word recitals of these dictations. This certainly give the scenes a sense of authenticity. But because Leigh refuses to edit or exorcise anything, the reenactment scenes sometimes drag on and become a tad boring.

There are a few times when the transition from the historical speeches to the collectively constructed characterizations and dialogue is a bit clumsy, but mostly Leigh and his cast create believable, human characters from these now largely forgotten names.

The only really false notes in the movie are those that deal with the "wicked" aristocracy. Leigh's class hatred is such that he cannot even bring himself to depict the members of the oppressing class as humans but rather only as grotesque clowns. The viewer feels as if they have stumbled from tasteful historical epic to Three Stooges slapstick.
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Parallels to Today
Raven-196925 September 2018
It is one thing to be afraid of the dark, but letting light scare you is far worse. This is what happened in 1819 Manchester (and is still happening today). Faith in democracy was shattered when a peaceful gathering of working-class families was brutally broken up by soldiers. With unemployment, poverty and famine rampant in the wake of a costly war, unarmed men, women and children were beaten or slayed for the crime of demanding that their voices be heard. Privileged classes exaggerated dangers and created trouble that provided excuses for cracking down. The horror of a potato hitting the Royal Carriage prompted much of the severe over reaction.

The history is dark but fascinating. It is eerie but enlightening to see the parallels to current events. From the filmmaker, Mike Leigh, who brought us Mr. Turner. Leigh takes a close look at some of the characters caught in the turmoil and it makes for a compelling portrait of the time. I do not mind films being long, but this film was unnecessarily long. Leigh should have hired the editor from The Sisters Brothers. Seen at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival.
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His epics are somehow better than his social dramas
ReadingFilm10 May 2019
Rather his intimate eye scales beautifully into epics. This is an unusually progressive work as it shows a future of cinema as collective vs. collective. It is about theater, not politics (or they would say the reverse). It takes 'the speech' and brings it out dozens with many variations like poets trading on the stage. Its subject is persuasion, in moving the chess of collectives through the power of oration. "I don't understand what she's saying." The one did not understand as in the abstract, as in "am I the only one realizing this gibberish has nothing to do with anything?" It's not clear the others understand either, but they're taken. This is how movements instigate is not logically but mutual quantity, and I notice it with cinema that at some point in the last ten years they began to stop striving to engage individuals and began speaking to entire demographics bringing this effect of a backward market. What they found is audiences can't tell the difference. With Peterloo, critics had it reversed that the build-up was a chore. The slaughter was usual. The speeches were new. Some criticized Leigh for making the villains caricatures, but he hates them... but yes they're very much Sweeney Todd without the dicing. Scratch that. Without the songs. Well there's some songs. "What will the year 1900 be like?" This threw me for a loop not just for its irony of 'more of the same indefinitely' but I am looking into a film which is projecting a hundred years ahead to what already happened a century ago. And how does one wrap their mind around this? There are so many realities played with at once while the film attempts to subvert its own reality before our eyes as a sort of meta-theater. Its beauty is it's a densely staged work of theater about characters watching the reality play out before them as theater become real through its deathly consequences. Even when they assemble to watch they're eating snacks as if in the theater. They want a voice and only actors and orators can provide this in a grand way, who are brought in as if rolling tanks down the road. The voice is their great 19th century nuclear weapon. It's festive. A ritual proving they can be heard. Proving that they exist.
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not epic
kevin c24 March 2019
Movie night with Iris.

Leigh's film is a long haul, and then doesn't really deliver the pay-off. I had no immediacy or sense of anger at the finale.

As a bookend the Waterloo beginning is really useful. But then at the end, you're not told how many died, how it influenced the formation of the Guardian etc.
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Great education
davincihair11 August 2019
Warning: Spoilers
After looking at all the other reviews I was expecting to be disappointed.... not so, what a wonderful British film ... well done Mike Leigh. Slow moving and thoughtful.
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Confusing - You might find yourself in the bottom of the river
somjeet-roy17 October 2018
The movie is slow and sluggish and ultimately misses out on the main goal - giving proper light to the Peterloo massacare. Its half baked in most of the scenes and loses steam soon. There is lack of cohesion amongst the leaders and the watches are therefore left confused. In most places you will find the lords overreacting which sticks out as a sore thumb. Maybe a one time watch but didn't meet my expectations. It was good till the trailers.
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Unfiltered Capstan Full Strength history that blackshirts will hate.
feracomhera20 October 2018
England is named after a long-disappeared tribe, the Angles, who sailed here from German with a rag-bag of other northern continentals. However, the largest group of migrants came from Saxony. Hence: Saxons. The latter's grip on power was short-lived--they had to pay the Danes not to beat them up. The most notable English king, Alfred, is chiefly remembered for being careless in the kitchen. The last English king, Edward the Confessor, was actually half-French. When he died, there was a crisis in succession that was resolved by the Norman French invasion. . The French Plantagenets were dominant for the next 500 years, until the Welsh Tudors won the throne back for the Gaels. They passed it on to their cousins in Scotland--and thus the idea of a United Kingdom of Britain was born. Before that, these islands had often been referred to as the Atlantic Isles. By 1820. the time that Mike Leigh's film is set, the country had suffered a ruinous civil war, it had been invaded by a huge armada from the Dutch Republic, and the latter nation had installed a German dynasty to placate and entertain the herds of Saxons who were useful to toil, like beasts of burden, and die like cattle when necessary. Leigh's film catches a crucial moment of working-class history. In fact, it is the moment when the English working-class is created. So we see a traumatised young soldier standing bewildered among the carnage of Waterloo. Back home in Manchester, the ruling-class-- seizing the advantage in war--had forcibly enclosed the land which the common-people had used to grow food. At the same time, the price of bread was increased, savagely. Folk were presented with a stark choice: Stay on the land and starve, or go to the towns and slave for meagre wages. Maxine Peake's character makes reference to the Corn Laws, and that dire plight. Leigh shows us the vicious brutality of those who had engineered the situation, towards those who had to suffer it. The actors. who depict the cruel and smug magistrates ; the petty criminals bound for Botany Bay, the gallows, or the whipping-post---are these faces not straight from the prints and periodicals of the time? The political speeches, made throughout the film, are the authentic words, and do reflect the stirring the consciousness of a whole class of people. A previous reviewer gammon-moaned about "2 dimensional characters". It seems that the same reviewer managed to identify a forerunner of Nick Clegg. A character he can sympathise with? What makes Leigh's film 3 dimensional, in its entirety, is the dimension of class. Stick Rees Mogg in there, stick Johnson, stick Farage---can anyone doubt whose side they would be on? Whose side would Corbyn be on? The actors accents are authentic to the point that, south of Chesterfield, subtitles may be required. Leigh's decisions, as a director, have paid off, fully. The lighting and cinematography are of the highest order. One scene, in particular, should be freeze framed and installed on a wall, beside Vermeer.
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Lost plot hash-up
PipAndSqueak4 November 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Eee by eck as like. What a bleedin shambles. For hours you sit through interminable mock-northern twangyness trying to fathom where this rambling dross is going. You know it has to have some scenes from 'Peterloo' - the massacre that occurred on 16th August 1819 when several tens of thousands of people went to St Peter's Field Manchester to hear Orator Hunt speak on the urgent need for parliamentary reform. In this film, you won't learn why this outdoor meeting was turned into a bloodbath even if you do pick up some names to bandy about. Look folks, following the French Wars, ending with Waterloo in 1815, England's working class found themselves between a rock and a hard place. They were experiencing unprecedented deprivations caused by failed harvests, taxation, the loss of work (the introduction of factories and mechanization amongst other insults. They had no representation in parliament where decisions affecting their lives were made. What could they do? In other places there had been riots (East Anglia and Spa Fields 1816) machine breaking (Nottingham and Leicester), marches on London and the Pentrich rising, there had been blasphemy and sedition in the gutter press stirring muck and murk. Peterloo was extraordinary in that the populace had gone specifically without anything resembling a walking sticks, no missiles etc. They had nothing with which to defend themselves. It was organised as a family friendly event to which even a band of 150 women paraded their supportive banners. So, what Mike Leigh presents us is a mish-mash of individual incidents that fail to convey the true depth and seriousness of the situation. Trite dialogue includes stupidities such as when, looking at her sleeping child, Maxine Peake's character says "In 1900 she'll be 85". FFS, it is supposed to be 1819, the people think their futures are lost. They're only just in the first fifth of their own new century. What a stupid thing to have a character say. After sitting through more stupidities of this nature, we finally get to see a re-enactment of the massacre. By this time we've learnt how to identify the people who are going to get cut down. The whole shambles is a travesty of what really happened. In reality, the yeomen knew by name the people they harangued. What you don't see is the merchants and factory owners who took it upon themselves to cause the devastation and provoke the yeomen into committing atrocities over and above the hundreds of wounds and injuries suffered by those trapped in the calamitous rout . Suddenly the film ends...what? It is what happened after the massacre that really is of significance but, we don't find anything out about that, the Six Acts or the galvanizing of class warfare. This film is tripe. Give it a miss.
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A (partly) Left wing view
claidlawmanchester14 November 2018
This kind of political drama, about working class history, is a must-see for everybody of left wing persuasion - half the people I know queued up to get tickets for the preview in Manchester in October. For other people, who may prefer their films to include some element of entertainment as well as a history lesson, it will prove disappointing. I would like to be able to give this film a great review, but there are just too many flaws. It seems that in his anxiety to present an accurate history lesson, the writer/director forgot to also present a story. There is no continuous narrative, no central character, nor even a set of a few central characters. There are far too many characters, so many that the viewer learns very little about them.. They fail to draw the audience into the story or make them care about their plight, so much so that when one gets killed by a British soldier at the mass rally it evoked little reaction. This film would have worked so much better if it had focussed on a few of the real-life characters who were most heavily involved in the radical campaigns of the time. As some letter-writers in the Guardian pointed out in the week of the film's release, there were a few other demonstrations in the 19th century where the authorities killed more people than at Peterloo. But the authorities were able to cover these up. They were not able to to do the same with the murders at Peterloo, because the radical journalists who founded the Manchester Guardian made sure it got fast and widespread publicity; and risked imprisonment for doing so. But the film tells us nothing about these journalists except their names. Likewise it tells us almost nothing about Samuel Bamford, one of the most prominent political activists of his time. He was put on trial for treason twice, for activities that would now be considered lawful and constitutional, and he is still so well known in his home town, Middleton, that they run a guided history tour about his life and times. This film reduces him to almost a bit-player. Another inevitable problem with a film that portrays political events is that the only way to explain the politics is by presenting the characters having a political debate. If these are not carefully placed and kept no longer than necessary, they can become very, very tedious. "Land and Freedom" gives a good example of how to do this kind of political debate scene well. Unfortunately, Peterloo has several debate scenes, and they are mostly examples of how to handle such scenes badly. They hold up the action enough for the viewer to get fidgety. I didn't consider the film to be overlong but it ends far too abruptly. It badly needs some form of epilogue to show the aftermath of the massacre. I also think it a serious omission that the fifteen people who were killed are not named. They could - should - have been listed in the end credits. So, what's good about this film? The cinematography is excellent. The period details are exact, the contrast between the bare environment of the working people and the luxurious homes of the upper classes is deftly handled. The scenes seem to use only natural daylight or candle light, (the only form of lighting people had at the time) which gives them extra authenticity. And the scene of the military attacking the peaceful demonstrators at St Peter's Field is staggering. I won't describe it, so as not to spoil the climax of the film, but it's fist-clenching stuff.
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slow to start but with reason
blacksquirrel-949479 March 2019
Slow to start because it explains why the English of the early 19th century had well founded issues with the the current political system its corruption the upper classes and gave me a real ..true insight into why england bent towards socialism in later years...with damn good reason.......i'm a an american but i can see why things went as they did ...we never had these issues ..well not nearly the class issues as bad... hell we have our own race issues to deal with.

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Half an hour too long
lordyrhodes10 November 2018
Well acted but spoiled by it's self indulgence. Too long and the penultimate scene with the Prince Regent was over the top.
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Overall good film, but with key shortcomings
rolf_petersen9 July 2019
As with most movies today, the extremes are over-represented and the underlying issues barely addressed. England was reeling from a Napoleanic, banker-funded war, ending in oppressive debt for the major powers of Europe. The Bank of England and the Bank of France were both formed to lend money to their respective governments, with few constraints on the pyramiding, in order to fund regular wars. The French revolution was trying to spread its socialist conclusions. Men are represented as either cruel, money-grubbing wealthy industrialists or poor, woe-is-me peasant labor, although one could hardly call people who had several sets of clothes, a house and sets of dishes as poor. The gratuitous men-oppress-their-more-intelligent-women folk is consistent with modern social justice bleatings. Consequently, what we see is the plight of what the French called the bourgeoisie, or the merchant and skilled labor class. The entrenched oligarchies were hanging on to their power, generated by industrial technological expansions (in this case the mechanical loom), which ironically needed skilled laborers and supporting merchants, who also were gaining wealth, counter to the woe-is-me picture. Much of the problem was the government-imposed lack of producers' and laborers' ability to negotiate the price of their labor and the markets for their products. The many government-oligopoly controls on cloth production are not presented, but were responsible for most of the tension. Of course, these issues would hardly sell to uninformed viewers.

As with the onset of the French revolution, the key issue is never quite resolved in these movies, or in the social justice bleatings of today: after the dust settles, who will be in charge and what will the new rules be? Will the current oppressors be replaced by worse oppressors? Meet the new boss, same as the old boss, both in labor and management. Government meddling has and will cause tragedy.
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