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Biopic of Lord Longford, known for many years for his work with prisoners and prisoners rights in general. The film focuses on Longford's work on behalf of Myra Hindley convicted, along with her boyfriend Ian Brady, of several child murders. Hindley is nothing short of notorious and even Longord's wife is shocked when he announces that he will visit her in prison. When Prime Minister Harold Wilson removes him as the Government Leader in the House of Lords soon after his visits to Hindley are made public, Longford continues to work for her release. A devout convert to Roman Catholicism, Longford sees hope for Hindley when he learns that she too once converted to Catholicism. In the end, his campaign to get her released on parole is for naught when she reveals that other murders took place. Longford stood by his convictions however and never regretted the good work he had done over a great many years. Written by
To look as much as possible like the real Lord Longford, Jim Broadbent wore a prosthetic nose and chin that took two hours to apply each day. A prison guard who had known the real Lord Longford was once very startled when Broadbent entered the prison door in costume. To make himself walk very slowly and lamely when Longford sees Myra Hindley for the last time in the movie (when the character is 92 years old), Broadbent put small, painful stones inside his shoes. See more »
In the closing credits, the last names of the characters "Rachel Pakenham" and "Paddy Pakenham," have been misspelled as "Packenham." The correct spelling of Lord Longford's family name, as seen on envelopes and elsewhere in the movie, is "Pakenham." See more »
[On his first visit to Myra Hindley in prison, Lord Longford is looking aimlessly around the visiting room trying to find her. He approaches a woman with bleached blonde hair, then discovers that this is not Hindley. Suddenly a woman with jet-black hair stands up]
I think it's me you're looking for.
I got rid of the peroxide before the trial. I was blue at the trial, for most of it. And then red for the sentencing. Apparently it counted against me - showed I had no remorse.
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We should, it is said, forgive but not forget. But some deeds are so monstrous that we can only forgive by forgetting. In some senses, no murderer deserves to ever be let out of jail. But we, as civilised humans, achieve nothing but our own degradation by keeping old people who offer no further threat to society imprisoned; and forgetting may be the only we way can square this circle. But Myra Hindley's crimes were never forgotten, partly because they were peculiarly horrible, but also because she became a hate figure for the popular press. Logically, Hindely has the same rights to be at least considered for parole as any other prisoner; but no politician was ever going to end their careers by demanding it. None, except for Lord Longford, an elderly, egotistical do-gooder with a spectacular capacity for making bad calls. The common belief, supported at least in part by this film, is that manipulative Hindley played Longford for all he was worth. And yet the principles that hard cases make bad law and that justice is not vengeance are surely important and right. But a more pragmatic (or less messianic) figure might have chosen an easier terrain on which to fight this battle.
In this biopic of Longford, Jim Broadbent captures the man's physical characteristics perfectly, although the voice is still his own. Samantha Morton, always a brave actress, keeps her cards close to her chest as Hindley. Though generally following received wisdom, it's overall effect is cautiously sympathetic to Longford, and encourages one to think again about the meaning of justice, maybe more effectively than Longford himself did.
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