A drama that tracks the story of the foot soldiers of the early feminist movement, women who were forced underground to pursue a dangerous game of cat and mouse with an increasingly brutal State. These women were not primarily from the genteel educated classes, they were working women who had seen peaceful protest achieve nothing. Radicalized and turning to violence as the only route to change, they were willing to lose everything in their fight for equality - their jobs, their homes, their children and their lives. Maud was one such foot soldier. The story of her fight for dignity is as gripping and visceral as any thriller, it is also heart-breaking and inspirational.Written by
At the London premiere, feminist direct action group Sisters Uncut jumped the barriers and staged a lie-in on the red carpet to protest against cuts to domestic violence services, declaring "the battle isn't over yet". The stars of the film continued giving interviews and meeting fans as the activists chanted "Dead women can't vote" and "We are suffragettes". Interviewed at the premiere, Helena Bonham Carter said: "I'm glad our film has done something. That's exactly what it's there for," adding that the protest was the "perfect" response to the film. See more »
When the suffragettes are within the Central Lobby of the Houses of Parliament, several railings can be viewed on the windows in the background. These were not added to the windows until 1917, 5 years after the film is set, in tribute to the suffragettes who chained themselves to them in 1908. The railings used to be situated in the Ladies Gallery of the Commons but were removed so as to prevent similar political protests at the time. See more »
Inspector Arthur Steed:
You know, there was a housekeeper on her way back when the bomb went off. She forgot her gloves. If she was two minutes later - what would that have done for your cause? Violence doesn't discern! It takes the innocent and the guilty! What gives you the right to put that woman's life at risk?
What gave you the right - to stand in the middle of a riot and watch women beaten and do nothing? You're a hypocrite.
Inspector Arthur Steed:
I uphold the law.
The law means nothing to me - I've had no say in making the law.
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Scripted by Abi Morgan, who gave us THE IRON LADY four years ago, this is a finely judged snapshot of a key year (1912-13) in the decades-long battle for women to get the vote in England. Meryl Streep has brief but commanding appearances as cranky old Mrs Pankhurst, imperiously redirecting her campaign from the ruling class to the working class. The key character here is the fictitious Maud Watts (Carey Mulligan), a young laundrywoman and mother who is drawn into the new campaign of 'civil disobedience', which will soon include blowing up post boxes and cutting telegraph wires.
Of the male characters, only Helena Bonham Carter's husband (Finbar Lynch) is sympathetic to the Cause. Brendan Gleeson's police inspector is well-served by the writer: central to the brutally repressive treatment of the Suffragettes, he is allowed a moment of doubt towards the end. Ben Whishaw seems uncomfortable in the challenging role of Maud's husband, totally intolerant her involvement with the Movement.
This is, in the fullest possible sense, a Women's Picture, written and directed (Sarah Gavron) by women, and it is the women who make it work and make it pull at your heartstrings. Bonham-Carter, Anne-Marie Duff and Romola Garai give telling performances. Carey Mulligan, who somehow didn't seem to get the period right in the remake of FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD, is at her absolute best here, utterly convincing as an oppressed working mother reluctantly drawn into the campaign to give women fairer pay and a voice in the governance of the realm.
The Dickensian factory-sized laundry (a museum piece or a reconstruction?) is magnificently awful, and the teeming crowd scenes outside Parliament and at the fateful Epsom Derby suggest the production must have had a good budget (or some crafty CGI). There are moments of humour in the grim struggle, but this movie brings to life vividly and touchingly the high price paid by some women to obtain the right to vote for all women.
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