We have a fantastic selection of new releases and special events this week including Mike Leigh’s much-anticipated historical epic, Peterloo.
Leigh is no stranger to exploring working class culture and promoting political activism through his stories, and as such Peterloo feels like the historical epic he was always going to make - he just needed the right time. The 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 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 but also further government suppression. The Peterloo Massacre was a defining moment in British democracy; given the current political climate, the film plays an important role in reminding us about the power of the united voice and the vital role democracy plays within society. Peterloo has an incredible ensemble cast including Maxine Peake, Rory Kinnear and David Moorst, and following nationwide sell-out previews it is not one to be missed when it releases this Friday. On Tuesday 6th November, we will be journeying from the streets of Paris to the heart of a superb exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge of renowned French artist Edgar Degas. Degas: Passion for Perfection tells a fascinating story of the artist’s pursuit for perfection through both experimentation with new techniques and lessons learnt from studying the past masters.
Sometimes frustrated by his own failings, Degas was consumed by obsessive principles and failing eye sight but his determination to capture everyday life was evident in every mark he made. Never fully satisfied, many of Degas’ drawings and sculptures were kept in private during his lifetime but, now through close examination, they can be seen as some of the most beautifully detailed and expressive works in the modern era. Using written accounts by friends and commentators, and the narration of letters written by Degas himself, this film reveals a more complex truth behind one of the most influential French artists of the late 19th-century and serves as an exploration of the complex workings of Degas’ artistic mind. If abstract expressionism is more your thing, on Wednesday 7 th November we will be screening the multi-Tony-award-winning Michael Grandage Company production of Red. Starring a dream pairing of Alfred Molina as artist Mark Rothko and Alfred Enoch as his assistant Ken, we see the artist take on his greatest challenge yet: to create a definitive work for an extraordinary setting.