The TV documentary is dead! Long live the cinema-feature documentary! With ‘The Most Important Film of the Decade!’ as a gently tongue-in-cheek poster tagline, Chris Atkins’ call to arms – or call to protest – offers a well-documented and cautionary outline of Tony Blair’s regressive record on human-rights legislation, narrated by David Morrissey and accompanied by a Radio 2 rock-track featuring Radiohead, Oasis et al. Part analytical essay, part comic PowerPoint lecture and part campaigner’s handbook, it assembles an impressive number of (mostly familiar) cross-party talking heads as it ticks off assaults on such basic rights as freedom of speech and assembly, the rights to privacy and protest and the presumption of innocence and a fair trial. Justified pre- and post-9/11 security concerns have, it argues, been exploited by successive Blair administrations to justify a dangerous accretion of state power at the expense of the public realm. Nothing new here for activists or regular ‘Newsnight’ viewers; rather, ‘Taking Liberties’ seems designed as a campaign aid and intended – in its careful exclusion of over-heated or passionate voices – as a putative appeal to slumbering Middle England.
Cast and crew