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PETERLOO THE MOVIE OPENS AS SALFORD DIRECTOR MIKE LEIGH POINTS OUT ITS RELEVANCE TO THE NOW
 

Star date: 18th October 2018

THIS IS OUR HISTORY...

Peterloo, the movie, starring Maxine Peake, was premiered in Manchester last night at Home. The Salford Star was not invited but we did manage a non-exclusive twenty second interview with Salford director Mike Leigh on the red carpet, and a viewing at the peasants' overflow on Deansgate. Is it any good? Read our review and that crucial interview with Mike Leigh.

Full review here...


Peterloo - The premiere Peterloo - The premiere
click image to enlarge

So, the red carpet's out and there's bouncers everywhere, as the Engels statue looks on with folded arms in the square outside Home. It's premiere time for Mike Leigh's epic, Peterloo. And the Salford Star is not invited.

However, I have got a ticket for the peasants' overflow screening at the Odeon on Deansgate, thanks to a mate and the Peterloo Memorial Campaign, and I'm here to pick it up. In front of the barriers, the mainstream media, which normally couldn't give a fuck about the annual Peterloo commemorations in Manchester, are scrambling to get in place when Mike Leigh appears, making his way down the carpet giving interviews en route.

I sneak around the barrier and gegg in, waiting patiently while some radio bugger spends about half an hour getting the Salford director's life story, which will probably make about thirty seconds on air. Leigh's people are anxiously trying to drag him away. I lean over and get one question in...

'Er, how important is it that Salford people see this film?'

"Guess what the answer is to that" he laughs "Of course it's important...the fact that it's our history is important, but also that it has resonances to now, it's relevant..."

...And with that, it's goodbye to the Hollywood-on-Irwell glitz and on to Deansgate, where a serious looking audience (no popcorn here) is awaiting a seriously awaited movie...

Peterloo is a bit like any bible film in that you know the ending; like, everyone gets crucified. So, rather than simplistically telling the story, Leigh concentrates on the nuances of the many characters who played their part in the massacre, contrasting the pompous, and usually pissed, magistrates, politicians and monarchy with t'mill town dwellers who are scrambling to get eggs, bread and penny pies to eke out an existence.

The film starts with a soldier left bewildered at the end of the battle of Waterloo, walking back to Manchester before collapsing into his mother's arms, starving and exhausted. Cut to Parliament, where MPs, who represent no-one, grant the Duke of Wellington a reward of £750,000 for his victory. Bastards!

Cut to t'mill...Late for work? You get beaten up. Cut to t'courts...Rob a coat? You get hung. Nick a watch? Banished to Australia. Have a few slurps of your master's wine? It's a whipping. Arseholes!

All is black and white between the bourgeoisie and the working class. Poverty and harsh corn taxes on one hand; decanters full of claret and luxury lives on the other. But hark! The rulers are aware of "seditious activity in the north", and are determined to stamp it out, as spies with low slung hats hang around secret meetings where t'workers are plotting rebellion...well, a petition to get the vote at least.

But hark again! The reformers are split themselves between the middle class radicals who want a softly, softly peaceful approach via Parliament, and working class rebels who, having heard of the French revolution, want to crank up the anger and resistance.

It becomes a bit of a theme, with superstar orator of the day, Henry Hunt, portrayed as a complete self-absorbed knobhead, in contrast to Middleton's Sam Bamford, the man of the people who gets the reality and danger of the times, as local orators and agitators are jailed and beaten up.

As these little mini-dramas go off behind the scenes, t'workers are preparing for the big march to St Peter's Field and the massacre that follows...

Don't expect to be sat on the edge of your seat all the way through this long film. Action-packed, it's not. Mike Leigh has too much respect for the subject matter and this is a more or less accurate historical drama rather than Hollywood blockbuster schmaltz.

Actors, mainly local like Maxine Peake and Pearce Quigley, are scraped of their make-up, and dressed in dour clothes that match the dour sets, as they dialogue in t'brogue of t'day. This is not 19th Century merrie England. The yanks Ė and those brought up on damn Van Schwarzenegger garbage - will fucking hate it. But, as Mike Leigh said on the red carpet, overlooked by Engels, it's our important history and it's relevant.

Just getting the finance and backing to make Peterloo was a major achievement. To do it on Mike Leigh's terms, without compromise, was an even bigger achievement. And now that Peterloo is not taught in schools, and loads of people don't even know what it was, or that it happened on our own doorstep, it's incredibly vital that everyone is dragged kicking and screaming to see it, support it and, hopefully learn from it. In 2019 its two hundred years since it happened.

On the same day that Peterloo was premiered, three anti-fracking protesters were freed on appeal, after being jailed for their 'deeply held beliefs' in the seditious north. The judge who originally sentenced them was found to have family connections to the fracking industry. Britain is still riddled with vested interests and class bias.

You thought we'd moved on from Peterloo? We haven't even moved on from the fucking Tudors. For Window Tax read Bedroom Tax...

Long live the 'seditious north'!

Peterloo is being screened in cinemas nationwide.

Review by Stephen Kingston

forty years on(when afar and asunder) wrote
at 19:30:18 on 21 October 2018
What saddens me is that people have learned sweet FA even some of the well educated ones who went to the same school as me and Mike Leigh. In those olden days people had to respect authority of the Tory rulers because the consequences of not doing so were severe. Nowadays people just believe their masters in authority because they are so thick and unable to think for themselves. If any of their peers wants to challenge things that are wrong, they do not want to admit someone in the same boat as them might have a few more brains than they do. In general,in our city, people only care about what happens to them, and even then, they cannot see further into the future than a couple of weeks. Ignorance and stupidity,thats what does it.

Rossi speaks wrote
at 20:36:42 on 20 October 2018
Just be quiet Ray, You Plastic Socialist. You got no credibility now. You just a mouthpiece for the council. A little red parrot that trumpets a load of weasel words in their defence. You defend the indefensible, Ray, You little Nikolai Yezhov you.

Rayofsunshine wrote
at 17:03:40 on 20 October 2018
Rossi,you're just a layabout - you whine and bitch but achieve nothing! You're so puddled that you don't realise that you're being used by the Right!

caroline gray wrote
at 17:03:08 on 20 October 2018
real Salford lad.i agree..plus the cotton mills..the film fine ..but if Salford etc keep pulling down old buildings ..they destroy your history..an yes to tony flynn it should be taught in schools. hopfully this will shine a light on it

Bob the regular wrote
at 17:02:52 on 20 October 2018
The editors comment about window tax just gave me an idea there,and I am not joking about this ,I am serious. When window tax was in existance, you could get out of paying by bricking up the windows and putting them out of use. I wonder if the same applies to the extra bedroom? I think it would be an ideal test case for the supreme court, and I would be prepared to brick up someones spare room, if someone was prepared to take it all the way to the supreme court. Thing is, there are not enough one bed flats for single people, so the councils are just shafting people.My suggested course of action seems so obvious to me, that I felt it must have been tried by some smart arse in perhaps London where all the smart arses on housing law seem to be, I looked, but I cannot find anyone. Even if it does not work, it will cost the clowns a few bob,and it would be a laugh.

Rossi speaks wrote
at 07:55:26 on 20 October 2018
Ray, Just be quiet, okay. The time for you pretending to be a friend of the working man is over. You're just a servile Little Yezhov who does as he's told by his political Salford Labour Council Masters. And with regard this film. Mike's okay. He's got his heart in the right place. It's just that his films are all terminally boring. The last good film that he made was Nuts in May, way bsck in the 70s.

Bob the regular wrote
at 07:53:37 on 20 October 2018
Let me explain to my learned friends Ray and Slurp the benefit these rabble and dross have on our society and why they are allowed to do what they like and where they like. They are there to show the working classes who live here, where they will end up, and who their new neighbours will be if they do not tow the line and behave themselves. The genuine homeless do not behave like the shitbags in piccadily.

forty years on(when afar and asunder) wrote
at 18:04:22 on 19 October 2018
He who controls history controls the future. And like fellow old boy Mike Leigh says, this is our history. This film will no doubt be a great piece of anti Tory propaganda. I myself am no lover of them. People here feel obliged to vote Labour, no matter what they do. I can see this film being an award winner, and the Salfordian traitors involved in it, Leigh ,Maxine Peake etc will all be given huge civic awards ,freedom of city honoury degrees and all that nonsense, photo ops with the mayor .None of these arty farty lot will ever say anything about whats going wrong in our city, red carpet my arse, red flag my arse.

Rayofsunshine wrote
at 18:03:46 on 19 October 2018
Slurp,your comments about "rabble and dross",matches exactly what the upper classes said about working people in 1819! I hope you're proud of yourself?

pete wrote
at 18:03:41 on 19 October 2018
Interesting review, but why the casual, stereotyping racism about'yanks'? I'm sure a few Americans will like this film, just as few Brits will. It certainly won't be packing them in at Manchester's multi-screen cinemas. As for the release of the anti-fracking three I'm not sure it fits your agenda. They are nice middle class types like nearly all eco-protesters, and that probably contributed to the justice system's belated leniency. They are not working class heroes.

Slurp wrote
at 11:47:50 on 19 October 2018
It's a pity the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry aren't still around. They could sort out all the rabble and dross that plague Piccadilly Gardens.

Em3 wrote
at 15:33:26 on 18 October 2018
Yeah - as the fracking frackers trample down protesters - but thereís hope yet. Thanks for this Star review + for all you lot do at the star. Iím in Catalunya and the film gets many mentions - people remember fascism here!!

Paul Gerrard wrote
at 15:32:52 on 18 October 2018
I watched at the peasants' overflow in Printworks. Superb film showing the ruthlessness of the British ruling class, whose successors still rule us, plus the fight back by honest working women and men. A great night, plus we sold 27 copies of the Socialist Party pamphlet- contact us on Facebook if you want one!

Real Salford Lad wrote
at 12:43:10 on 18 October 2018
Now, is anyone making a film about the Salford Dockers?...

Slurp wrote
at 12:41:59 on 18 October 2018
I'll see this film eventually. But not at the cinema. I go to the cinema for a bit of escapism like a Bond movie or if a film needs the scale only cinema can give - like Dunkirk or sci fi. This is a tv/dvd watch if ever there was such a thing. This is definitely not what i'd call 'entertainment'.And that's what most people go to the cinema for.

tony flynn wrote
at 11:15:58 on 18 October 2018
A great review and spot on, full credit to Mike Leigh for getting the bugger made and yes shameful its not been taught in school etc.

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