Comrades

Film
  • 5 out of 5 stars
(4 user reviews)
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Douglas' epic and very British film about the Tolpuddle Martyrs - 1830s Dorset farm labourers who formed a union to protest against subsistence wages, only to be deported to Australia - employs a minimum of fussy historical detail to offer a didactic but never dogmatic film of wide-ranging relevance. Politically, it foreshadows modern labour disputes; aesthetically, as 'a lanternist's account', the film is an investigation of different, pre-cinematic modes of story-telling. Fuelling the whole is a deeply humane concern for suffering, coupled with a righteous anger directed against hypocrisy and inequality. Equally importantly, however, it works as often humorous, always intelligently moving spectacle, immaculately performed, structured and shot.

Release details

Duration: 183 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Bill Douglas
Screenwriter: Bill Douglas
Cast: Freddie Jones
William Gaminara
Michael Hordern
Robert Stephens
Vanessa Redgrave
Robin Soans
Alex Norton
Philip Davis
Imelda Staunton
James Fox
Barbara Windsor
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Martin

I saw the last two hours of this film late one night ten years ago on TV and it has stayed with me in the same way Bill Douglas's other films have done (My Childhood Trilogy). He used visual images of a realistic nature and a minimum amount of dialogue to create a poetic form of cinema. Comrades is very long and very slow. Having seen it before and knowing a small amount about the story helped me watch it the second time. I knew who the characters were (they are not introduced using usual cinematic grammar so it can be hard to know exactly who is who to begin with). However the acting is great, the cinematography is wonderful, there are some jokes, and the camera angles and construction of scenes is always interesting. If you have the patience you will be rewarded. I guess I should re-iterate it is very long and slow but unusually for me, I liked both these aspects of the film.

Martin

I saw the last two hours of this film late one night ten years ago on TV and it has stayed with me in the same way Bill Douglas's other films have done (My Childhood Trilogy). He used visual images of a realistic nature and a minimum amount of dialogue to create a poetic form of cinema. Comrades is very long and very slow. Having seen it before and knowing a small amount about the story helped me watch it the second time. I knew who the characters were (they are not introduced using usual cinematic grammar so it can be hard to know exactly who is who to begin with). However the acting is great, the cinematography is wonderful, there are some jokes, and the camera angles and construction of scenes is always interesting. If you have the patience you will be rewarded. I guess I should re-iterate it is very long and slow but unusually for me, I liked both these aspects of the film.

jules

This is one of the best films I have ever seen. I am trying to find a copy as I last saw it ten years ago. It is still fresh in my mind however. Would be grateful if anyone can help source a copy for me.

jules

This is one of the best films I have ever seen. I am trying to find a copy as I last saw it ten years ago. It is still fresh in my mind however. Would be grateful if anyone can help source a copy for me.