In 1970, the Miss World competition took place in London, hosted by US comedy legend, Bob Hope. At the time, Miss World was the most-watched TV show on the planet with over 100 million viewers. Claiming that beauty competitions demeaned women, the newly formed Women’s Liberation Movement achieved overnight fame by invading the stage and disrupting the live broadcast of the competition. Not only that, when the show resumed, the result caused uproar: the winner was not the Swedish favourite but Miss Grenada, the first black woman to be crowned Miss World. In a matter of hours, a global audience had witnessed the patriarchy driven from the stage and the Western ideal of beauty turned on its head.
If there is a tonal uncertainty in this comedy, then that’s because there was a tonal uncertainty in the real-life events, and the movie nicely conveys how they were at one and the same time deadly serious and Pythonically silly.
Well written, -acted, -cast and -produced, this wholly entertaining yet stingingly relevant story of the 1970 Miss World finals should have been a smash hit when it opened in UK theatres on March 13, but events overtook its release.
As the United States raced against Russia to put a man in space, NASA found untapped talent in a group of African-American female mathematicians that served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in U.S. history. Based on the unbelievably true life stories of three of these women, known as “human computers”, we follow these women as they quickly rose the ranks of NASA alongside many of history’s greatest minds specifically tasked with calculating the momentous launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, and guaranteeing his safe return. Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Gobels Johnson crossed all gender, race, and professional lines while their brilliance and desire to dream big, beyond anything ever accomplished before by the human race, firmly cemented them in U.S. history as true American heroes.
Hidden Figures, both a dazzling piece of entertainment and a window into history, bucks the trend of the boring-math-guy movie.
Peterloo was Exminster Film Club’s second film screening. This historical drama by acclaimed British director Mike Leigh takes us back to Manchester in 1819. Peterloo chronicles the events leading up to one of the bloodiest days in British history.
An epic portrayal of the events surrounding the infamous 1819 Peterloo Massacre, where a peaceful pro-democracy rally at St Peter’s Field in Manchester turned into one of the bloodiest and most notorious episodes in British history.
Well the Film Club Committee did agree that we should show films of various genres and Peterloo was certainly a bit different from our showing of Fishermen’s Friends!
Those looking for a happy ending were clearly always going to be disappointed. However, the escalating tensions between the impoverished Mancunians and the government (supported by debauched royalty and the viciously strong arm of the law) were graphically depicted and made this a compelling film to watch. As with all films of historic events, Peterloo had to end at some point in time, so we were left without information about whether those horrific events in Manchester actually achieved any lasting result. But perhaps that will be covered in some future film production?
Mike Leigh brings an overwhelming simplicity and severity to this historical epic, which begins with rhetoric and ends in violence. There is force, grit and, above all, a sense of purpose; a sense that the story he has to tell is important and real, and that it needs to be heard right now.
Leigh’s visceral staging, especially in the climactic moments — brilliantly shot by his longtime collaborator/cinematographer Dick Pope — brings home the significance of a 200-year-old bloodbath that still speaks urgently to the disenfranchised.