Saturday, November 7, 2015

Suffragette: Monday, November 2 2015

Suffragette is the story of the violent fight women conducted in England to be given the vote. Up till the beginning of the twentieth century, women demanding release from the gender role they had been placed in by men, and equal rights to men, including the vote, had been called suffragists. When violence entered the picture, those violent women were called suffragettes.

The struggle for equal rights for women with men had been going on throughout the 1800s, but it was in 1906 with the founding of Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) that the the protests turned violent. That is the background to this film.

Emmeline Pankhurst was one of the leading figures in the suffrage movements. She appears in the film, played by Meryl Streep. In 1913, Emily Davison walked out in front of the King's horse in the Derby and was killed. She is played by Natalie Press.

Carey Mulligan plays Maud Watts, the chief character in the film. As is shown, the women threw stones through store windows, blew up mailboxes, marched on Parliament, and generally created an uproar. In 1918, women were given limited rights to vote. In 1928, the Conservative government passed the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise)Act, giving the vote to all women over the age of 21.

There is disagreement as to whether the violence did more harm than good to the cause. Considering that non-violent negotiations had been going on for over a century with no result, whereas the violent protests had only been going on for a short time with the desired results, what do you think.

This is an interesting film. If the director, Sarah Gavron, had tightened up the editing, perhaps it wouldn't have seems so slow at times. It certainly is worth seeing, if only to provoke thought.

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