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Produced in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre—in which a crowd of 60,000 Mancunians assembled in St. Peter’s Fields to demand parliamentary reform and expanded voting rights, only for government-backed militias to charge the protestors, yielding a still-disputed number of casualties—Leigh’s most recent feature is arguably his most ambitious treatment of British history. A powerfully evocative portrayal of working-class struggle prior to the Industrial Revolution, Peterloo comprehensively follows a coalition of workers, journalists, and upper-class intellectuals as they seek to cultivate class consciousness and demand better working and living conditions from the state, leading up to the violent suppression they face on St. Peter’s Fields. A long-gestating passion project for Leigh, Peterloo vividly paints the protestors’ struggle and illustrates the by-turns inspiring and tragic sequence of events that led to crucial reforms within British society.
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