The Peterloo Massacre Of 1819 Will Be The Focus Of Mike Leigh’s Next Film Project

After success with 19th Century-set musical drama Topsy-Turvy in 1999, British filmmaker Mike Leigh (Secrets and Lies, Mr. Turner) will return to the period with a film about the Peterloo Massacre of 1819.


Mike Leigh, whose 2014 film Mr. Turner showed an epic side to his filmmaking abilities not often witnessed in his catalogue of intimate dramas, is set to continue to go up in the world of scale. Following four Oscar nominations for Mr. Turner (sadly not winning any), Leigh will set his sights on the rarely told true story of the Peterloo Massacre of 1819.

15 people were killed and many more injured when a 60,000-strong crowd, who had gathered in St Peter’s Field in Manchester demanding political reform, were charged by government troops. The significance of the event has seen it now regularly taught in UK schools whilst it provided the catalyst for the creation of The Guardian newspaper.

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Leigh described the story as having “personal resonance” when speaking to Screen International recently. Re-teaming with long-time collaborator cinematographer Dick Pope, the pair plan to shoot the film in 2017.

“There has never been a feature film about the Peterloo Massacre,” Leigh said. “Apart from the universal political significance of this historic event, the story has a particular personal resonance for me, as a native of Manchester and Salford.”

Currently in development with Film4, Leigh’s latest project is likely to be the director’s biggest budget film to date after the commercial success of Mr. Turner saw it take more than £6.8m at the UK box office alone.

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    Andrew Reply

    I’m really intrigued by this one. Leigh is a director who I respect but don’t always love, but when he nails it he really delivers something special. The subject matter is ripe for a truly crushing cinematic experience.

  2. Avatar
    Dale Keith Roberts Reply

    I just hope that the English applied to the script is factual, because the dialects of Manchester, etc…, were intrinsic to the cultural identities of the varied people attending the protest/rally. Mike Leigh should not structure the language to accommodate modern audiences. It is the responsibility of contemporaneous viewers to enlighten themselves about specific social issues of the period. This will enhance the experience of viewing a well-made film.

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