With sincere apologies to our UK readers, this poorly educated (in terms of British history, anyway) American writer had absolutely no clue what Peterloo, the title of writer-director Mike Leigh‘s latest film, was referring to. Was it a story about a man named Peter who had some part to play in the Battle of Waterloo? No, that sounds far too silly for the seven-time Oscar-nominated filmmaker whose last writing and directing effort Mr. Turner netted four Oscar nods. But while the timing and location of my guess were close, the rest was way off. Silly American.
Peterloo retells the story of the tragic events that occurred in St. Peter’s Field, Manchester, England in August of 1819. When the economy took a downturn following the close of the Napoleonic Wars, and the policies enacted by Parliament exacerbated the problems, a populist uprising led to public demonstrations against the ruling elite. Tensions escalated and eventually British cavalry charged into a crowd of tens of thousands, sabres drawn. The “massacre” resulted in hundreds of injuries and more than a dozen deaths, and the incident was thereafter named the Peterloo Massacre based partially on the aforementioned Battle of Waterloo. Now you know, and knowing is half the battle!
Starring Rory Kinnear, Maxine Peake, Neil Bell, Philip Jackson, Vincent Franklin, Karl Johnson, and Tim McInnerny, Peterloo opens in the UK on November 2nd and in U.S. theaters November 9th.
Check out the first trailer for Peterloo before the Amazon Studios’ film earns itself some Oscar nominations:
Here’s the official synopsis for Peterloo:
Internationally acclaimed and Oscar-nominated filmmaker Mike Leigh portrays one of the bloodiest episodes in British history, the infamous Peterloo Massacre of 1819, where government-backed cavalry charged into a peaceful crowd of 80,000 that gathered in Manchester, England to demand democratic reform.