Comrades

Film
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.

By: GA

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