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Director: Mike Leigh

Screenwriter: Mike Leigh

Producer: Georgina Lowe

Editor: Jon Gregory

Cast: Rory Kinnear, Maxine Peake, Neil Bell, Philip Jackson, Vincent Franklin

Cinamatographer: Dick Pope

Music: Gary Yershon






Wisconsin Premiere • narrative • UK • 2018 • DCP • 153 MIN

section: New International Cinema

After Topsy-Turvy (1999) and Mr. Turner (2014), both innovative explorations of artistic lives in the 19th century, English writer-director Mike Leigh returns to the 1800s again for a mosaic-like recreation of the events leading up to the tragic Peterloo massacre in Manchester. Set in the four years following Britain's victory over Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815, the story is told from the perspective of multiple key players—unemployed and unarmed textile workers and their families, along with community magistrates, military leaders and armed cavalry—who all ultimately converged at St. Peter's Field for a demonstration by the underprivileged demanding voting rights. Peterloo offers dozens of characters—some of whom are fictional, while others are actual historic figures—to dramatize the events leading up to the disaster. As in other contemporary cinematic works based on complex historical happenings, from All the President's Men to Zodiac, Leigh's movie has all the compelling aspects of a great piece of well-researched journalism. While a great deal of attention has been paid to re-creating the period through authentic dialogue, costumes, and settings, Leigh never loses his grasp on the emotional core of Peterloo: heartfelt compassion for the working class trying to better their lives, and rage for the privileged who use violence to maintain power. (JH)

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