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This surely is one of the best made for TV dramas you are likely to see, superbly written and featuring a stunning performance from Jim Broadbent as Lord Longford. I had only ever regarded Longford as an eccentric old fool until watching this film which reveals what great humanity and compassion the man had. He finds Myra Hindley does not appear to be the monster the media built her up to be and Longford believes there may be some good in her but she is eventually shown to be as devious and manipulative as Ian Brady said she was. Brady is portrayed by Andy Serkis in a performance of incredibly raw and shocking power and you are left in no doubt that the only place for this dangerous man is behind bars, away from the public at large. It is only when Longford finds out he has been deceived that he finally listens to a copy of the infamous tape of the murders that has been sent to him anonymously through the post and thereafter he begins to question his own faith. Towards the end of both their lives Longford meets Hindley once more and in a truly shocking scene Hindley reveals her own spirituality and repentance, although not in the manner that he or anyone else could have expected. The film mixes documentary film with staged scenes to great effect and feels thoroughly authentic, capturing the era to perfection. I came away from this film feeling great admiration for this man, who may have been misled, but who only had good in his heart and did not know the meaning of hate.
I thought this was one of the most powerful pieces of television drama I have seen for a long time. It rates up there both in content, production and fantastic casting and acting with the wonderful Conspiracy (Ken Branagh and others a few years back). I wonder if Longford may come to be seen as Jim Broadbent's finest portrayal. It bears many more than one viewings and I think (as I did of an earlier drama programme this year about the Moors Murders) that it is brave and correct for skilled directors/writers etc to tackle this incredibly difficult subject. Well done to all involved and I look forward to the next project coming from this talented team.
A TV film about the later life of the Lord Longford and his association
with one of the countries most notorious murderesses: Myra Hindley.
I really like these (UK) 90 minute "factions" based on recent events: The Government Inspector, A Very Social Secretary and now this. Three great productions and just as good and as well made as anything shown in the cinema proper. This is what we (the British) are good at - quality acting and serious subjects. Not sure what the HBO viewers across the pond are going to make it though. Will they catch on like we do? Without the background social history?
This Jim Broadbent's (as Lord Longford) finest hour - he'll never get a part that suits him as much as this one. Hits the mark totally as the crusty old ostrich whose politics, religion and beliefs remained fluid throughout his life.
Myra Hindley was the most hated person in British history. The worst kind of killer and psychopath, someone who was played the system her whole life and told people what they wanted to hear. I am sure without partner in crime Ian Brady she would not have killed - but she showed little remorse when an audio tape was played of the pair of them murdering and abusing a little girl in court. For her everything was a joke or a game. A self server of the first rank.
Longford was putty in her hands. The classic upper-class silver spooner (from Eton to Oxford - the old public shool cliché) who knows nothing about working class life, no matter the evil minds that can torture little children for kicks and then bury them on moorland. She even did the driving given Brady hadn't a license.
Longford believed in change and reform. Even for Hindley. Few did and certainly not the government who would have been stoned had they not kept her behind barbed wire. The public might even have lynched her if she got out. In the end she had a kind of semi-independence behind bars - not that this is demonstrated well here.
The former leader of the House of Lords was not a bad man. Let us not forget that. Forgiveness is part of the scriptures and he carried that belief in his heart throughout his later life. He was not mad - but misguided and perhaps even curious about the people that lived on the dark side of life. As we all are. Who knows if he was in love with Hindley (he might have been) or got a sexual kick out of her. Sexuality is a strange thing and works in strange ways.
Two of the main characters (of this production) are dead and the other (Brady) is certified mad and will never be released. Nor does he want to be. So there is nothing more to tell. Just a long fade out.
What this production tells me is that is easier to be fair when you are an occasional tourist. When you can retreat to your large house and your big garden and contemplate evil at a safe distance. The people he wanted to help deserved their fate of being locked up with a bowl for a toilet - but beyond that they deserved to shown that society has standards that are not there's. Longford did that at least.
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
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.
The Myra Hindley/Ian Brady Moors murders of 1963, one of the most
heinous crimes in England since Jack the Ripper, has been beautifully
transcribed to the screen by writer Peter Morgan and Director Tom
Hooper. And though the story is basically about Longford's relationship
with the incarcerated Myra Hindley, the film paints a rather complete
portrait of a strange man who vacillated during his lifetime among
religious beliefs and spoke out strongly for the rights of prisoners
and 'unfortunates' who fall out of line with the law all the while
riling against pornography and other vices.
Jim Broadbent creates a wholly credible Lord Longford in this amazing performance. Transformed physically to resemble Longford's bizarre appearance, Broadbent manages to convey the spectrum of trust, self-doubt, pity, outrage, compassion and blind religious belief in a manner few actors could match. The remainder of the cast is equally excellent: Samantha Morton finds every nook and cranny of the enigmatic murderess Myra while Andy Serkis gives a chilling depiction of Ian Brady, her accomplice who knew how to manipulate the government and people as well as the infamously wily Myra.
The story is in many ways grounded by the strong forces of Lady Longford (beautifully realized by Lindsay Duncan) and the Lady Tree of Sarah Crowden and Harold Wilson of Robert Pugh. Hooper knows how to magnify the class differences between the gentry and the working class and his choices of locations and pacing of confrontations both in the prison and in the home and in the court are spot on.
This is one of those films for television that teaches us what really fine films can still be. It is a tremendously moving piece of work and Jim Broadbent will long be remember for this classic role. Highly recommended for repeated viewing. Grady Harp
STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning
** Sunday Night * Monday Morning
A TV drama exploring the relationship between notorious 'Moors Murderer' Myra Hindley (Samantha Morton) and Lord Longford (Jim Broadbent) who campaigned for her early release, only to put her on the backburner for a few years in which he went on a crusade against pornography and for her to cruelly throw his efforts back in his face after admitting to two other murders in 1987.
Being the 40th anniversary of Myra Hindley and Ian Brady's conviction for the 'Moors Murders', fresh interest has arisen in the case and TV producers want to re-create the events to fit in with the anniversary. We've already had ITV's See No Evil, which explored Myra Hindley's relationship with Ian Brady and how they ended up being brought to trial, and this is actually something of a follow-up to that film because it sort of continues the story where Hindley's been in jail for a few years and she begins using Longford to help win her early parole, right up to her and Brady's confession to the two other murders in the late 80s.
It's never easy viewing, but it's always interesting and compelling and keeps you riveted right up to the end. And the impressive performances do it no harm. Samantha Morton creates a cold but strangely vulnerable and mildly sympathetic Hindley. She might come out as a bit outspoken in real life but she's played her role well here. Broadbent is well into his role too, as the gullible but well intentioned man with the courage of his convictions. I know a lot of people will disagree with me but I actually thought Andy Serkis as Ian Brady was the one off note with the film. He makes him come off like a corny Hollywood kind of villain and compared with Johnathan Harris's quietly haunting portrayal of him in See No Evil, he just seems rather hammy. The film isn't about him anyway, and luckily he's only really a supporting role.
Not an easy view then, but a well made one, with strong performances and compelling characters. ****
Excellent if only for the quality of the acting. Broadbent succeeds in
giving us an unexpected private view of a public figure (with a
beautifully calibrated thirty year physical deterioration). In this he
is brilliantly supported by Lindsay Duncan.
Andy Serkis' Brady is unremittingly foul and electrically charged with danger to boot. The most horrible thing is that his performance is simultaneously magnetic - a non-Guignol Hannibel Lecter. Best of all is Samantha Morton's Hindley: an almost schizophrenically duplicitous harpie, although one got the impression that the Jekyll & Hyde act was Hindley's character flaw, not a cunning affectation. A fearless performance from Morton.
The purpose of the drama? To rehabilitate the publicly maligned Longford I'd imagine. In this it was successful at putting its case, giving us a profile of the man in relief from tabloid-bias. But this was all - there were no big moral points to be made and I didn't feel the need to think closely about the crimes and criminals he brushed up against.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The UK has certainly had its share of serial murders, probably none
more popular than one of the first, Jack the Ripper. This story
involves a series of crimes, the moores murders, and the two perps, Ian
Brady and Myra Hendley who, acting in concert, dispatched more than
five young kids in the most bestial fashion and buried them in the
Lancashire moores. Suffer the little children.
Of Brady we can say that there's only the slightest doubt that he suffered from what is now called anti-social personality disorder, unsocialized type. He was a Class A psychopath from his childhood onward, a characterological descendant of the Kallikaks and the Jukes.
Myra Hindley is a question mark. Of course there have been women who have killed with evident pleasure, as she did, judging from photographs taken during and after the crimes. But women murderers are less often into brutality and more often into soft murders by poison. And, more often than taking physical form, the least amiable express their cruelty in verbal form or in small punishments of subordinates. (These ridiculous generalizations come to you courtesy of the First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution!) They also show a tendency to be attracted to men of power and potency, as in the Stockholm syndrome. And some of the more twisted seem to be willing accomplices to brutal men. Myra Hindley, whatever her motives, served some 36 years in prison. Caril Ann Fugate served 18 before being released.
But this isn't the story of Brady and Hindley anyway. It's the story of Longford, one of those iconoclastic British eccentrics, a member of the House of Lords, an anti-pornography crusader, a Catholic, and a fervent supporter of Myra Hindley's quest for parole. He was in middle age by the time her case came to his attention and there was speculation that, well, maybe there was more to his involvement than mere humanitarianism. It would be understandable. Myra wasn't bad looking and she evidently could present quite a convincing case for herself. Still, his motivation was probably pure enough. He'd visited many prisoners before Myra and continued to visit them for the rest of his life.
He was a devout man, and his faith seems to have both sustained him and served as a trap. "Hate the sin, love the sinner," Longford says. And when it turned out that Manipulative Myra had played him like a fish on a light line, "finding Jesus" as so many inmates do, lying to Longford repeatedly, failing in an attempted escape when he seemed to be neglecting her, dismissing him when he was no longer of use to her, Longford never blamed anyone but himself for the suffering he'd brought about.
Jim Broadbent, as Longford, is superb. He looks crazy. But his performance could hardly be improved upon. The usual legal thriller has a hero or heroine who defends an innocent person who's been convicted of a crime by an evil system -- and gets him or her off. Here's a story of a man who sacrifices his reputation for the sake of someone who's unworthy of that sacrifice. Yet the movie explores him without condemning him or making him look foolish. Longford may or may not be a hero. Hindley's motives are left murky and the final meeting of the two is friendly enough, even warm. It's not a story of good and evil, just a story of mistakes. That's what makes it a film deserving of adult attention. Kids weaned on slasher movies will find it boring because it's all talk. People with more sophistication will have a better understanding of what the characters are going through.
'Longford' is the coming of age masterpiece of television and film
director Tom Hooper. In it a transformed Jim Broadbent becomes
walking-self-caricature Lord Longford, the famous, perhaps infamous,
campaigner for civil rights and early release for prisoners - most
notably Myra Hindley, the female murderer of five schoolchildren in
Yorkshire, England in the 1960s.
Samantha Morton is Hindley, tightrope walking above potential seduction and deception of Longford as well as possibly very real repentance. Longford himself is viewed as a man perhaps blinded by Hindley's charms who may be equally as guilty of manipulating her plight in a hobbyist fashion.
Andy Serkis encapsulates the mythical monster and the man that is Ian Brady, yet still the film as a whole carries with it the seed of forgiveness as the way forward in the judiciary and paints the heart of mob rule as blackly as perhaps the hearts of the Moors murderers in fact were.
A compelling film, with no easy answers, and the showcase of some of the most magnetic acting performances ever lensed.
Plans to finally sit down and watch the Rules of the Game by Jean Renoir went by the wayside when I fell into the HBO movie Longford. This is the story of Lord Longford working to try to get Myra Hindley out of prison for child murder. I was vaguely aware of the story prior to seeing the film, but I wasn't really prepared for the twists and turns. Clearly its not about what it seems to be about at first, namely getting an abused woman out of prison. It is ultimately about something else entirely, namely a story about dealing with the mistakes one makes, the ability to change and the ability to forgive. The cast is first rate with Jim Broadbent outstanding as Longford the odd Lord who champions Hindley's case when everyone tells him otherwise. Andy Serkis as Ian Brady, Hindley's lover and co-conspirator is particularly slimy and evil. I really liked this movie a great deal. Forgive me this is one of those movies thats better if you just see it since its just so damn interesting I don't want to spoil it.
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