Suffragette’s well timed release shows how a setting from over one hundred years ago is still relevant to women in the modern world today.
In 1912, before the Representation of the People Act, women didn’t have the right to vote, and there was a visible limit on women’s rights. Comparatively, in 1920 the 19th Amendment to the US constitution granted all women over the age of 21 the right to vote. It took another ten years until the entire UK population of women over 21 secured the right to vote in 1928.
Suffragettes believed in taking bold political actions and were considered dangerous by police and government officials, not just because they damaged property but also because they brought attention to the growing unrest. I don’t agree with the violent approach the suffragettes took, but I can’t help feeling like the change brought progress faster from the media coverage of the suffragettes.
While most people likely have heard of the peaceful suffragists, suffragettes on the other hand aren’t mentioned as often, unless you count the comedic song in Mary Poppins.
Filming took place on location in London and this immensely increased the authenticity of the city street scenes. The cobblestone walkways and the hundred year old buildings added to feeling of being back in 1912 without fair representation or equal rights.
Of the hardworking women in a London laundry business, Maud (Carey Mulligan) is an average working woman, who happens onto a group of suffragettes making a political statement yelling “Votes for Women!” while throwing rocks at shop windows. In this British drama about the feminist movement in the United Kingdom, Suffragette inspires one to protest and make one’s voice heard.
Throughout the entire story Mulligan gave real, moving emotion, personalizing the struggle that millions of women encountered in this era. Her relentless efforts to take the appropriate path for a respectable woman led men to continue disregarding her voice. Taking on her obstacles and pushing down barriers, even if that meant losing beloved relationships along the way, Mulligan creates a feeling of the last straw being dropped on her unrepresented back.
Leading the suffragettes was Emmeline Pankhurst (Meryl Streep), who only appeared once to give an impassioned speech to a vast crowd of women. Streep delivered another excellent performance as the famous leader, however her prominent place on the movie poster deceives how small her part is.
As a gruesome reminder, Suffragette provides inspiration through a riveting representation of the grim inequality our grandmothers and great grandmothers dealt with.