Suffragette movie full length review - This film was an eye-opener in so many respects.
This film was an eye-opener in so many respects.
I am eternally grateful that I speak English and that some 'English' customs are a part of the way in which I savour my life. I think most of us try not to be caricatures of the surviving arrogant, racist herrenvolk who still try to behave as if they occupy the moral high ground, as if they are 'superior' to the rest of us and think that only their way of doing things is the 'correct' way.
Understandably, the British have tried to hide much of their history from the gaze of their own people as well as those whom they had conquered. They still influence, and to an extent control, via our esteemed senior pedagogues, the kind of curricula that our children study and that which appears in our newspapers and on TV.
Some of us exist in a cloud of mendacity: we have erroneous notions about the British, the 'Free West' and especially about ourselves, our conquered selves.
In 1912 the British were beating up a great many people in various parts of their empire (where they had imposed their laws which enabled, among other things, the extraction of the wealth of the conquered territories) as far afield as Iraq, Egypt and India and as close as Ireland.
What many of us did not know was that some of the British also 'officially' beat up some of their own women folk when these valiant citizens rallied to get the right to vote.
The film is set in 1912 when the upright British kept all their women folk (Even though they had a Queen as their sovereign for most of the 19th century) legally disenfranchised. They imposed this restriction upon some of their males as well. I think that it is wrong to give away the plot of a film - I will only give you impressions. I think that this film is well worth seeing. Most of the subject matter would not have been covered in the 12 years of schooling of even our post Apartheid institutions.
We see this era through the eyes of a naive, ignorant, young washer- woman who, (in a manner which was similar to the way in which we were conscientised by Apartheid) is gradually made aware that much of the way in which females were being treated was utterly immoral, unethical and wrong.
In the manner of Orwell's '1984', the movie is done in dark and sombre colours which depict a dank and shabby working-class England at a time when the British were the wealthiest people in the world. However the British empire had many unethical laws which violated the human rights of their own ladies.
I was amazed to see, in the heart of the British empire, shop windows being deliberately broken by the Suffragettes, post boxes being blown up, telegraph cables being cut and Lloyd George's summer mansion being destroyed. George was Chancellor of the Exchequer in the British government at the time. He became Prime Minister in 1916.
The police and their spy agencies were shown doing everything in their power to break the movement. These clever fiends tried to find weak links in the Suffragette movement and recruit them as informers. The government also tried to get the newspapers not to publicise the struggle. Up to a point, they were successful.
The 'total onslaught' response of the authorities to the civil resistance had a terrible effect on families, especially the innocent children. Many of the women lost their jobs, the males were coaxed to 'rein in' their women - and, if the women were not compliant, sometimes families broke up. Back then, the men often got custody of the children. One man actually gave away his child for adoption once he was separated from his wife. Women who rose up against disenfranchisement were thought by many to be 'not right in the head'.
The very harsh working conditions of that time, the endemic sexual harassment and the discriminatory salaries which were the norm, are all in your face in this stark story about the war against state terror; a war against one of the strongest empires in the world. In some ways, the resistance of the women reminded me of the heroic, diminutive, delicate, Vietnamese and their valiant resistance against the American invaders.
During the tortuous era of resistance against the vicious Apartheid decrees, some of our lawyers played a crucial role. In this film, not a single lawyer is seen helping the resistors.
A Suffragette was shown at the Epsom Derby being knocked down by the King's horse, Anmer. She was Emily Wilding Davison. The Empire could no longer conceal its sinful laws from the world. Perhaps the film should have interwoven a tale of an enfranchised jockey who had his life in front of him, and a troubled, angry, young woman who chose to put her life in the way of the imperial juggernaut.
The work concludes with a historical note about when the women were legally able to vote in various countries. New Zealand led the world in 1893. All German males were enfranchised when they marched to war in 1914. Universal British male suffrage was a reality only after World War I. British women were able to vote in 1928. In 1944 the French females followed. I could not help thinking of the lady who holds up the flame of freedom: the statue of liberty which was sent to New York by the French!
The credits state that Indian women were enfranchised in 1947. But that important advance was not contextualised. That is upsetting. Indian women could vote only once their country was liberated from the British and India became a democratic republic.