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Comrades [Blu-ray]  [Region Free]
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Drama directed by Bill Douglas telling the story of the 'Tolpuddle Martyrs'. Having been arrested in England for campaigning for fairer wages and forming one of the first trade unions, a group of six farm workers from Dorset are sentenced to be transported to Australia in 1834 for seven years. Cameo appearances include Vanessa Redgrave, James Fox, Michael Hordern, Murray Melvin and Freddie Jones.
Top Customer Reviews
So how does Bill Douglas's film stand up to scrutiny? Douglas had already completed his Childhood trilogy ("My Childhood" (1972), "My Ain Folk" (1973) and "My Way Home" (1978)) which put him in good stead to write and direct a working-class hero themed film. And yes, in most aspects the man succeeded. An admirable cast which feature such mainstays as Keith Allen, James Fox and Freddie Jones accurately portray the wronged men, and although the cinematography sometimes degenerates into Chocolate-Box gaudiness (Was it an attempt to do a Terence Malick?) the colours are vivid and the contrast between rainy Dorset and parched New South Wales is masterfully portrayed. And yes, the inevitable Romanticism does ooze through at points in order to stir emotion, it's mostly tastefully done and at a low budget. Bravo.
What of the package? Hell, this is the BFI and they never ever do things in halves (Bless them).Read more ›
Soans puts in a strong central performance with able support from Gaminara, Bateman, Davis, Flynn and a roguish Allen, whilst Hordern, Jones, Fox, Windsor, Redgrave and an astonishing debut performance Staunton rounds out the cast and the omnipresent Norton fills in everything else.
The director retells the tale on a grand scale breathing new life into the story with atmospheric locations that perfectly capture rural Dorset and colonial Australia whilst remembering his own place as the story teller, in the form of the lanternist and his bag of tricks, and never loosing the central message of the union movement.
Remember thine end.
Whilst this was not a crime in itself, it did not stop the authorities from stitching them up and having them `transported' for seven years to Australia to face all the privations of convict status in the burgeoning colony.
The story is told through the lens of a lanternist and there are many references to the forms of entertainment of the time. The actors are also very noteworthy, Keith Allen, Philip Davies, James Fox, Vanessa Redgrave, Imelda Staunton and Barbara Windsor to name but a few. A special mention to Alex Norton who played over ten roles including the aforementioned lanternist and I never spotted it.
This is a beautifully filmed piece of cinema with fantastic attention to period detail filmed at Cerne Abbas in Dorset. There is real filth and detritus and the grime on the convicts always looks genuine. It is long at 176 minutes (my version - the BFI restoration) but is a great chronicle of a vital piece of our history and also a unique piece of cinema - absolutely essential viewing.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I bought this as I am related to Thomas & John Standfield and was interested in the interpretation of them in the film. Sadly I have to say this film is awful. Read morePublished 24 months ago by Karen
A most informative DVD on the plight of the Tolpuddle Martyrs, a piece of history generally swept under the carpet for its
portrayal of injustices and corrupt men in... Read more
I saw this film when it first came out, to find it again on dvd was amazing anyone who is interested in the Tolpuddle Martyrs it is a mustPublished on 20 Jun. 2013 by Amber
The film builds slowly and draws you in so that you feel that you are one of the characters. To be recommended to anyone with any political feeling.Published on 28 Feb. 2013 by Eugene Delacroix
This is a long movie. Be prepared to invest 2 and a half hours. This film takes place in England in the 1830's and tells the story of the Tolpuddle Martyrs. Read morePublished on 28 July 2012 by Grace
This was a film in its length mirroring the long struggle for workers' rights. I had never heard of this film until I stumbled across it on Film4. Read morePublished on 8 Oct. 2010 by Steve Bridge