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  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: England Maurice's Avatar
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    released by BFI



    Sunday Telegraph 'DVD of the Week':



    In 1649, Gerrard Winstanley, a cloth merchant who had been ruined in the Civil War, set up a commune with fellow victims at St. George's Hall in Surrey.



    He wrote eloquently about the social inequalities of the time, and his experiment was entirely peaceful. This beautiful and moving film, directed for the BFI by Andrew Mollo and Kevin Brownlow in 1975 on a budget of only �24,000, makes extensive use of Winstanley's ringing prose.



    Mollo and Brownlow had previously made the equally memorable IT HAPPENED HERE, imagining Britain's future under a victorious Hitler, but have directed nothing since WINSTANLEY.



    It looks, but of course never sounds, like a classic silent film. The budget even stretched to an opening battle scene, accompanied by the score Prokofiev wrote for Sergei Eisenstein's ALEXANDER NEVSKY.



    The film has some of the most expressive close-ups since Eisenstein's early days in Soviet cinema. The excellent cast is almost entirely non-professional, led by the late Miles Halliwell, a teacher in real life, with a commanding presence and an appropriately inspiring voice.



    Radio Times Guide to Films:



    Kevin Brownlow and Andrew Mollo's second film is set in Cromwellian England and deals with a disparate group of people, united in their disillusion, poverty and landlessness, who create a commune and call themselves Diggers.



    Their leader is Gerrard Winstanley, a man with a Utopian dream of social equality.



    Based on David Caute's novel, COMRADE JACOB, it fits into the world of 1960s agitprop, riding the anti-everything, drop-out tide of student protest, but Brownlow and Mollo are not firebrand radicals, much less flower power hippies.



    They are, first and foremost, serious historians who shot the film for over a year, often in harsh conditions. As a period reconstruction it has few equals.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain
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    I watched this the other day, and it is a fascinating film. The actors - all but one were non-professionals - are very impressive (but it's not hard to spot the pro!), and the cinematography is stunning (especially on the Blu-Ray).



    There are some interesting extras - I've only had time to watch a contemporary making of, but there's an interesting looking interview and a short film from Brownlow, not to mention a cracking booklet.



    If you have any interest in the period, or British Cinema of the 70s, then this is a must - the Blu-Ray is pretty much reference quality.

  3. #3
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Has anyone ever done a drama, or a good documentary, about the Putney Debates? That was where the New Model Army and the Levellers held a series of debates and discussions as to what changes they would like to see after the Civil War. One of their main demands was for universal (male) suffrage - in 1647.



    Of course they were sold out in the end. Promised all sorts of rewards if they'd only go along quietly with the status quo. We didn't get universal male suffrage in the UK until 1918 - for all men over 21. Women over 30 were given the vote in 1918 with some property restrictions. They didn't get equality (in terms of voting rights) until 1928



    It could have all been very different



    Steve

  4. #4
    Super Moderator Country: England
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    Winstanley does have some scenes at the beginning covering The Putney Debates....if you're at all interested in the subject, Steve, you NEED this film.

  5. #5
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    name='penfold']Winstanley does have some scenes at the beginning covering The Putney Debates....if you're at all interested in the subject, Steve, you NEED this film.


    I'm fairly sure I saw it some time ago, but it'll certainly be going on my list



    Steve

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