Released on 12th February 2015, Suffragette was always going to be one of the biggest eye-opening films of the year and it didn’t disappoint. Not one bit.
Set in 1912 – near the beginning of the suffragette movement, the film follows the fictional character of Maud Watts (Carey Mulligan), a laundress and her actions to try and gain the women vote.
I have always believed in the equal right of men and women and this interest grew when I studied feminism at college under the subject of Communication and Culture. It was a must to go and see Suffragette.
It was nice to see that they had included the character of Emmeline Pankhurst (the actual leader of the British Suffragette movement – and played by Meryl Streep) and that they hadn’t glorified the treatment that women had over the years. They showed Black Friday – a day where the suffragettes got beaten, battered, bruised and bloody outside the Houses of Parliament on November 18th, 1910.
It was shocking. I watched, mouth open as all I heard were the screams of women who just wanted to be treated like humans, as I heard the smack of policeman’s sticks across the women’s faces or bodies. I was horrified.
The most shocking scene was when the director, Sarah Gavron depicted the death of suffragette member Emily Wilding Davidson at the Epsom Derby of June 4th, 1913 when Davidson stepped out of the crowd to her death under the hooves of King George V’s horse. She wanted to attract the world’s attention and her death did just that.
Helena Bonham Carter portrays the fictional character of Edith Ellyn. Carter is the great-granddaughter of H.H. Asquith – who served as Prime Minister of the UK from 1908 to 1916, which was during the height of the women’s suffragette movement. He was a staunch opponent of women gaining the right to vote. So the connections were brilliant for the film.
At the end of the film, the credits rolled and showed the dates of when countries had passed a law on women being able to vote – some as late as the 90’s and women in Saudi Arabia aren’t eligible to vote until December 2015.
I left the theatre feeling angry, emotional and overwhelmed. I knew about the Suffragette movement anyway but to see it played out on the big screen was mesmerising; I wanted to stand up and clap.