Approx advert and trailer run time: 25 mins
Film run time: 2hr 34m
As we approach the bicentenary of the Peterloo Massacre, Mike Leigh captures all the passion of the era with this gut-wrenching depiction of an oft-forgotten tragedy.
Four years after Napoleon’s defeat, ex-soldier Joseph (David Moorst) grapples with memories of Waterloo. While the aristocracy celebrates, he and his mother Nellie (Maxine Peake) eke out a living in a city struck hard by the oppressive Corn Laws. Orator Hunt (Rory Kinnear), a self-styled champion of the people, may hold the solution to their problems, even as Prince George (Tim McInnerny) and Lord Sidmouth (Karl Johnson) plot to thwart all reform. When a demonstration occurs at St. Peters Field, political radicals have a chance to face off against the old order, but what started as a peaceful protest quickly dissolves into a bloodbath.
Leigh brings his feted realism to bear on Regency England, recreating the era with incredible detail and exposing the historical forces at play. Peake’s moving performance further underscores the gulf between the downtrodden Mancunians and McInnerny’s grotesque—almost comic—take on the Prince.
With this contrast in place, the plot unfolds with a terrible, unstoppable logic, right up to the inevitable and devastating final act.
The screening on Sunday 9th at 7.30pm will be introduced by Dr Katrina Navickas, who will stay for the end of the film for a post-screening discussion in the front-tier of the downstairs seating area.
Dr Katrina Navickas is Reader in History at the University of Hertfordshire. She is an expert in the history of the Peterloo Massacre, and trained several of the actors of Peterloo to research their parts using original historical documents.