- 2 hr 34 min
Peterloo is a historical drama film, directed and written by Mike Leigh, that recounts the infamous Peterloo Massacre that occurred in Manchester, England on August 16th, 1819. The film stars Rory Kinnear as Henry Hunt, an orator who became a leader of the movement for extending voting rights to working men, Maxine Peake as a working-class woman named Nellie, and Neil Bell as Samuel Bamford, a poet and reformist.
The film presents a dramatization of the events leading up to the Peterloo Massacre, which were marked by stark economic inequalities, chronic unemployment, and hunger. The film opens with the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, portraying the harsh realities of the Napoleonic Wars and the soldiers' hardship returning home, which sets the scene for the sociopolitical climate that England was experiencing at the time. The British Government had vastly expanded its borrowing during the wars with Napoleon, which led to high taxation and rising food prices, causing widespread social discontent among the working classes.
Mike Leigh's film delves deep into the lives of ordinary people living in Manchester, including the everyday challenges they faced, their aspirations, and their growing frustration with the political system. The film depicts the democratic reform movement as it gains momentum, with Hunt leading public meetings around the country, demanding the expansion of voting rights for the working class. Leigh does an excellent job of portraying the people's desire for political representation and empowerment, which was met with staunch resistance from the ruling class in London.
The Peterloo Massacre is depicted with great attention to detail, and the scene is both emotionally and visually arresting. The massacre occurred when a large peaceful gathering assembled to hear Henry Hunt speak. The crowd grew larger and swelled to as many as 70,000 people, making it the largest crowd the authorities had ever seen. Amid growing fears of unrest and rebellion, the authorities authorized a cavalry charge to disperse the unarmed crowd. In the ensuing chaos, at least 15 people were killed, and hundreds more were injured.
The film's account of the massacre is particularly powerful, providing a visceral understanding of the atrocities committed that day. The film highlights the brutality of the authorities' response and their bias against the working poor, igniting a national outrage and fueling the reform movement's determination to bring about change.
The film's production design and cinematography are particularly noteworthy, capturing the atmosphere and mood of the era. The film uses a muted color palette, creating a sense of solemnity and gravity that reflects the seriousness of the subject matter. The costumes are also historically accurate, and the period detail of the settings and props is impressive.
Peterloo is a well-crafted and moving drama that successfully captures the historical significance of the Peterloo Massacre. The narrative effectively conveys the complexity of the social and political climate of the times and the human suffering and oppression that contributed to these events. The performances are outstanding, particularly those of Kinnear, Peake, and Bell, who deliver powerful portrayals of their respective characters.
Overall, Peterloo is an exceptional historical drama film, that raises important questions about democracy, political representation, and social justice, making it relevant to contemporary audiences. The film is a must-see for those interested in politics, history, and justice.
Peterloo is a 2019 history movie with a runtime of 2 hours and 34 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.5 and a MetaScore of 66.