“Suffragette”

Shame on any woman who does not make time to see “Suffragette”. Shame on anyone who misses a chance to view and acknowledge the sacrifices of the 19th- century -British working women~those who led the way in including half of the world in the political process. Two women, Director Sarah Gavon and writer Abi Morgan present a composite of fictional and historical characters that inspire and cause us pause. The narrative begins with actual excuses used by those attempting to keep women away from the ballot box ,like ” women are well-represented by their husbands, fathers and brothers”.

As if there was no need to worry,we are next shown the beautiful cinematography of Edu Grau with its hazed light and muted hues. Laundresses begin the wheels turning. Much will be “cleaned up”.

We are introduced to the fictional Maud Watts played magnificently by Carey Mullingan. We follow her awakening as a twenty-four-year -old wife and mother. Maude’s history comprises being born in Mr. Taylor’s laundry,  being strapped to her mother’s back  while her mother worked, and working in the steam herself beginning  at age seven. Now, as a trusted and responsible forewoman, she is to deliver a parcel of laundry. She finds herself in the middle of a protest. Rocks fly from baby carriages and windows are smashed. Shouts of ” make the law respectable,then I will respect the law”  ring  in Maude’s ears. Her husband Sonny uses the words “high-horse” to corral  the ideas of these women soldiers, who wish to be “law makers not law breakers”.

Maude sees her friend Violet’s (Anne-Marie Duff) adolescent daughter molested by Mr. Taylor. She says nothing to the girl’s mother believing in the  suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst’s “deeds not words”. Maude later takes the girl and places her in the home of a suffragette sympathizer to work in safe employment.

Helena Bonham Carter is brilliant as the fictional doctor, who resorts to bomb-making and violent disruption.Being imprisoned earns a chest medal and  Dr. Edith has many. Unlike Sonny who eventually throws Maude out and arranges for their son to be adopted and  for a neighbor to fix his own missing meals, Edith’s husband is supportive until he locks her in a closet to protect her from herself !

Natalie Press plays the real woman who gives up her life for the cause. Emily W. Davison will be ” googled” by  all viewers of this film. Brendan Gleeson plays the villain  who has covert cameras installed to spy on the “instigators” and has the hunger strikers force fed.

King George V ‘s era  is well- costumed and the dates given at that film’s end actually caused a few  film-goers to gasp. Women could vote in  1913 Norway, 1917 Russia, 1918 Britain,1920 United States, 1949 China and India,1953 Mexico,1971 Switzerland, 2015 Saudi Arabia etc…