We’re living through a period which feels like a major turning point in history, in which the very terms of the world’s countries’ relationships with each other are being renegotiated - from Brexit to President Trump’s destabilising new foreign policy agenda.
This coming week at the Showroom Cinema three extraordinary films revisit events that shaped the course of global politics and society, and led to the world order that now seems to be shifting beneath our feet.
Peter Jackson’s They Shall Not Grow Old, Mike Leigh’s Peterloo and Damien Chazelle’s First Man all deal with events which had a profound impact on the course of human history during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. All three films also tell stories which have technology at their core, as well as a focus on the human individuals at the centre of these world shaping events. They Shall Not Grow Old uses state of the art filmmaking technology to bring the human face of the First World War to our screens like we’ve never seen it before – colourising archive footage of a conflict which ushered in an era of modern, mechanised warfare. Using this extraordinary colourised footage, and the voices of the men involved, Jackson’s film brings to life the day-to-day experience of the soldiers at the heart of this cataclysmic event. The film will be screening as a special one-off event with a satellite Q&A with Peter Jackson. The Q&A will be hosted by Mark Kermode and broadcast live from the London Film Festival.
Also screening with a satellite Q&A broadcast live from the London Film Festival (with Mike Leigh and members of the film’s cast) is Peterloo. Leigh’s film is an epic portrayal of the events surrounding the infamous 1819 Peterloo Massacre, where a peaceful pro-democracy rally at St Peter’s Field in Manchester - composed of people whose lives had been fundamentally shaped by new technologies - turned into one of the bloodiest and most notorious episodes in British history. The massacre saw British government forces charge into a crowd of over 60,000 that had gathered to demand political reform and protest against rising levels of poverty. Many protestors were killed and hundreds more injured, sparking a nationwide outcry and fundamentally shaping British society and democracy.
Finally, First Man is a thrilling dramatisation of NASA’s attempt to land a man on the Moon in which Ryan Gosling takes centre stage as astronaut Neil Armstrong. The film focuses on his rise through the space program, culminating with the mission that led to him becoming the first man to walk on the Moon in July 1969. Avoiding the rose-tinted lens that often accompanies real life biopics about extraordinary feats, the film brings this incredible undertaking to life with a realism that merges breath-taking visions of space flight with a sharp focus on the human drama surrounding the mission. They Shall Not Grow Old is screening at 6pm on Tuesday the 16 th October, with a satellite Q&A with director Peter Jackson. Peterloo is screening at 6.45pm on Wednesday the 17 th October, with a satellite Q&A with director Mike Leigh and members of the film’s cast. First Man opens on Friday 12 th October.