|Index||9 reviews in total|
This series really impacted me as a young girl. At 13 years old it was an amazing program that shed so much light on what was experienced by the brave women before me. I was riveted and would really like my girls to see what the women before them went through especially today when we have lost sight of the womens movement in this day of bare bellies and shaking rear ends! The young women of today do not seem to realize what their sisters before them went through just to get the vote and how many years afterward that women continued to fight for equality!!! The acting was exceptional and I really agree this is one of the best series of all time. I see that Brideshead Revisited in on DVD why not this one!!
When the actress Georgia Brown accused the BBC of not providing
worthwhile roles for women she was challenged to provide a format which
did. The result was this epic telling of the story of women's struggle
to earn the right to vote.
With a superb cast, excellent writing and top notch production the BBC produced a series which should stand alongside other high points from the 1970's such as 'I, Claudius' and 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy'. For some reason it is neglected and I seem to remember it was undervalued on its first transmission.
Perhaps there are those who don't care to be reminded that less than a century ago women were imprisoned, went on hunger strike and were force-fed simply because they wanted to be part of a democratic society. It was only ten years after the First World War that British women were given the same rights as men.
The programmes don't simply glorify the Suffragettes. Christabel Pankhurst in particular is shown enjoying a comfortable exile in Paris and organising an increasingly militant campaign while her followers are being tortured in prison.
The story of the Suffragettes ranks alongside the Civil Rights movement in the US and should be recognised as such. Even though they are now 30 years old these programmes would easily bear repeating on cable as an important lesson in social history.
Perhaps the powers that be are happier for us to take democracy for granted than remember its true value by showing how it was fought for.
This series is one of my favorites. It dramatizes the life of the Pankhurst family who led the movement for the woman's right to vote in England. Their cause was a just one, and they finally succeed after the first world war. The acting is wonderful. TOP RATE. What is very interesting, too, is the observation that though their cause was very important, there was an undercurrent of rivalry within an autocratic leadership of the movement. Nevertheless, the leaders ruled, rather like a dictatorship which, at times, negated humane consideration. The willingness to suffer by some of these woman for the right to vote and participate in society is a hallmark in history. I HOPE TO SEE THIS BROUGHT TO DVD.
I love this series (introduced to me by my mother when repeated in the late 1980s when it was 70 years of the vote) and often use our old worn out video copy in the classroom. The episode on Emily Davison I always found particularly hard hitting. Its a shame its never been released on DVD. Perhaps this is the year to push for it. If we are lucky, it might even get a repeat as its 90 years in 2008 since women were given the vote in the UK I've contacted the BBC to ask about release to DVD and have been told to write to BBC worldwide to suggest it. Maybe if we all write and get everyone we know to write, there might just be enough demand for its release. I'm happy to post the address they gave me if anyone wants it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
One wishes this series was shown again on television, as it is an
accurate retelling of the British Suffragette Movement under Emmaline
Pankhurst and her two daughters Sylvia and Christobel. But it is also a
retelling (that was ignored for most of the last 100 years) of the
first successful terrorist movement in Great Britain and the west of
the 20th Century. For while it is hard to believe that the rights of
women to equality were ever denied in the liberal west, not only has
suffrage been less than a century old in Britain and the U.S. but full
rights are still being fought for.
Emmaline Pankhurst did not found the movement for political equality for women. It was pushed, initially, in the 1860s by some leading British thinkers, in particular the philosopher and economist John Stuart Mill. One of the leading supporters of the movement was a Dr. Pankhurst, who was the husband of Emmaline. He died in the early 1890s, leaving his wife and two daughters. Emmaline continued the lonely work of agitating for the reform of Britain's voting laws.
She tried to do it like Mill and her husband had: print many pamphlets on the subject, cultivate political figures at social occasions, try to peacefully convince. But this was taking too long, and it was truly questionable if it would ever work. Meanwhile the two daughters were growing - but would both tackle the issue differently. Sylvia, the older one, was a socialist, and joined forces with Labour Party leader James Keir Hardie. She pushed the idea of suffrage on the lower class women of England. But her younger sister Christobel was a snob. She concentrated on spreading the idea among the upper crust friends that she had. Christobel also noted the effectiveness of terrorism (the 1890s and 1900s were the age of anarchist outrages). Christobel advocated rioting, breaking windows, destroying property. She quickly realized that to do what she was doing she had to be out of reach of the British authorities. She moved to Paris, like other agitators like James Stephens, the head of the FENIAN Movement of the 1860s. From there she sent orders through her lieutenants and spread a campaign of terror in Britain.
By our standards, with memories of the World Trade Center disaster and the Bali hotel explosion, the Suffragettes were quite tame - the two best recalled incidents are the destruction of a painting in a gallery and the suicide of Emily Davison which is shown in the series from the original 1913 film (Davison threw herself under the King's horse at the Derby, and was trampled to death). But for the Edwardian/early Georgian period it was quite troublesome, and led to rather barbaric force feedings in prison by the British police (lest we feel superior, the Americans did the same thing for American suffragettes starving themselves in hunger strikes in prison too). The Liberal Party of Prime Minister Asquith and Chancellor of the Exchecquer Lloyd George were on the horns of a dilemma because they were supposed to be the party of political reform, but instead were antagonistic to it. Labour turned out to be a more fruitful party for supporting this reform. But Christobel and her mother were snobbish, and tended to dismiss Sylvia's hard work in that area.
In the end women got the right to vote in England because of the war. To have free hands to prosecute the war, Asquith did not need to worry about a home-grown terror war. Lloyd George and Christobel made an agreement, in 1915, for eventual suffrage (with property considerations), that was not aimed at what Sylvia had hoped to get. But then Christobel said she would support the war effort, and Sylvia refused to do so. By 1918 British women (upper crust women) could vote. It would be ten more years for the lower crust women to also get that vote.
The performances of the series were all good, especially Sian Phillips as Mrs. Pankhurst, Patricia Quinn as Christobel, and Angela Down as Sylvia. The subtle shift of the aging Mrs. Pankhurst to favoring Christobel is shown slowly in the series. Judy Parfitt as Lady Constance Lytton plays a particularly tragic figure - a socialite who dies from mistreatment by the authorities when she went on a hunger strike (including force feeding of soup via a rubber tube up her nose - a typical method used in Britain and America).
By the way, the title "SHOULDER TO SHOULDER" is based on the theme song of the same name. It was an anthem composed by one Dame Edythe Smith, England's leading female composer of the period, and a firm suffragette in her own right.
I watched this avidly when it was broadcast in the 1970s. Why, I
wonder, has this excellent series been allowed to gather dust? It had
brilliant acting and was both informative and moving. The song, The
March of the Women, always moves me to tears.
I have a nasty suspicion that it's to do with sexism at the BBC. It's about women, and by women, and deals with women as people, not decorative fluff. Given programming costs, I would have thought they'd welcome the chance to air all those well-made episodes at no cost. And a re-broadcast would stimulate DVD sales, assuming they ever made the effort to put it out in DVD format.
Of course, if the BBC felt like it, there is a great deal of gold that could be mined on the subject of the struggle for women's rights: the fight for married women's property rights; the fight for equal rights in marriage and divorce; the fights for education against medical advice that it would bring on brain fever or interfere with women's reproductive capabilities; the fights for admission to various professions.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I've never been one to yell, scream, sing along with, or get
"physically involved" with any performance on stage, screen, or TV.
But when I watched the suffragettes march in Shoulder to Shoulder, I found myself on my feet, yelling. I didn't even realize I was out of bed until the person I was with looked at me like I was nuts.
Women in the U.S. got the right to vote only 26 years before I was born. Girls coming up now need to know the history of their civil rights. They need to know about being force-fed, beaten, and abused.
There are many Masterpiece Theatre programs I'd like to see released on DVD -- Shoulder to Shoulder is Number One!
This is a great documentary of a very significant social movement that
has had little attention given to it to date. The book is a great
resource but the series is much more engaging. This is the type of
thing that should be shown in schools to help young women get a sense
of their own history. Not only in schools but it should also made
accessible to the general public as well.
As they say, what we don't remember, we're bound to repeat. Just take a look at this video on UTube.
It's pretty amazing how a whole generation of girls knows nothing of what it took to get them the right to vote. No to mention the many other rights they take for granted now.
Having said that, I'd love to see the DVD set made available for "Shoulder to Shoulder". There really is nothing else like it out there. The one or two films available are too Hollywood and don't focus on the real issues but rather focus on the love lives (however falsely) of the women - instead of what they were doing. How come we never see that with male characters from history? I've noticed others who are waiting for it to be made available for purchase too. What's the hold up??
This title should be made available on DVD so that I can show the younger members of my family at what cost the vote was given to them. Not only was this splendid drama it was an invaluable lesson to a young me and I have never wasted my vote since seeing it. There is an apathy now among the young and their precious vote just does not seem important to them not a good attitude as past history can reveal. BBC Four screened one episode recently why only one? It is so frustrating to see one episode of such a quality drama and then not to be able to see the rest. When there are so many old dramas coming out for general view again surely this one is due for release so please release it distributors there are many out there who would love to see it again.
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