On Tuesday, the first trailer was released for writer-director Mike Leigh’s upcoming historical epic Peterloo. The costume drama focuses on the 1819 Peterloo Massacre in which cavalry charged down a crowd of more than 60,000 people.
Four years after the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the people of Britain were suffering. Food was short, money even shorter, and the citizens of northern England were left with little-to-no representation in Parliament. The scene was set for revolt.
Enter the Manchester Patriotic Union, a small group of men hoping to enact change in the British Parliament. The MPU organized a gathering of Manchester citizens. The main event was a speech from orator Henry Hunt (played in the film by veteran Rory Kinnear). Moments after Hunt began his address, however, local authorities sent in troops to apprehend him. Let’s just say things went south from there and leave it at that for now.
The topic of Peterloo would be exciting fodder no matter who was at the helm, but the fact that Mike Leigh is the mastermind behind the drama makes Peterloo even more fascinating. Leigh has a penchant for making history feel fresh in his movies because he’s unafraid to weave modern relevance into his period pieces. For evidence of that, check out 2004’s Vera Drake, a film that serves simultaneously as haunting, yet uplifting biopic and poignant message about a woman’s right to choose.
The vein of political discontent running through the Peterloo trailer is clear from the get-go. You can bet that Leigh’s film will echo the sentiment of a group of people upset with the way their government is going (for the record, that anger is more likely aimed at Theresa May more so than Trump).
Peterloo will arrive in theaters on November 9, just in time for some Oscar contention.
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