Suffragette (film)

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File:Suffragette poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Sarah Gavron
Produced by
Written by Abi Morgan
Music by Alexandre Desplat
Cinematography Edu Grau
Edited by Barney Pilling
Distributed by Pathé
Release dates
  • 4 September 2015 (2015-09-04) (Telluride)
  • 12 October 2015 (2015-10-12)
Running time
106 minutes[1]
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $14 million[2]
Box office $30 million[3]

Suffragette is a 2015 British historical period drama film directed by Sarah Gavron and written by Abi Morgan. The film stars Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Brendan Gleeson, Anne-Marie Duff, Ben Whishaw, and Meryl Streep.[4]

Filming began on 24 February 2014. It is the first film in history to be shot in the Houses of Parliament, done with the permission of MPs. The film was released in the United Kingdom on 12 October 2015 by Pathé and had a limited release in the United States on 23 October 2015 by Focus Features.


In 1912, Maud Watts (Carey Mulligan) is a 24-year-old laundress. While delivering a package one day, she is caught up in a suffragette riot involving smashing windows, where she recognizes one of her co-workers, Violet Miller (Anne-Marie Duff). Later, Alice Haughton (Romola Garai), the wife of an MP, encourages the women from the laundry to speak out to parliament and give testimony in order to secure the right to vote. Violet is the one who offers to testify; however, she is beaten by her abusive husband and subsequently Maud is the one who testifies. Maud is energized by her testimony and goes with Violet and other women to see if women have been given the right to vote. When she learns that they have not, the police officers turn on the women and begin beating them. Maud is caught up in the crowd and is arrested for a week. While in jail, she meets Emily Davison, a confidant of Emmeline Pankhurst.

Returning home, Maud faces social stigma from her neighbors and co-workers. She promises her husband Sonny to stay away from the suffragettes. However, Maud is invited to a secret rally to hear Pankhurst (Meryl Streep) speak. While there, she has a brief exchange with Pankhurst, after which she is detained by the police again who drop her off in front of her home. This time, her husband throws her out on the street. Maud struggles to see her son despite her husband's objections and continues to work until her picture is printed in the newspaper as a known suffragette. Maud is then fired and, reaching a breaking point, takes an iron and burns the hand of her male supervisor (who has been sexually abusing her and other young girls in the laundry for years). The police are called and Inspector Steed (Brendan Gleeson) allows her to leave and offers her an opportunity to inform on the other members of her cell. Maud refuses.

Sonny continues to bar Maud from seeing George, and points out that legally, he can do so. This prompts Maud into more radicalism to get laws changed in favor of women's rights. Eventually she learns that, as Sonny has been ostracized by the community, he no longer feels capable of taking care of George (as George is not Sonny's son, but is the son of the factory overseer). He puts George up for adoption. With no family ties, Maud becomes more and more radical and is involved in the bombing of mailboxes and the cutting of telegraph wires. Then she and her comrades are imprisoned again after they blow up an empty Parliamentary residence. In prison, Maud goes on hunger strike and is subjected to brutal force-feeding that horrifies even Steed.

However, the police begin to pressure the newspapers to drop the story and the suffragettes feel that they must do more drastic activities in order to gain attention for their cause. The women decide to attend the Epsom Derby, where King George V will be in attendance in order to step in front of the cameras and unfurl their pro-suffrage banners. However, on the day of the event, only Maud and Emily Davison are able to make the event. When they are blocked off from the area where King George V is standing, Emily decides that they must carry on anyway. While the race is in flight, Emily steps onto the track and Maud witnesses as she is trampled to death. Suffragette Maud later joins in her funeral procession; and, the film ends by revealing women's rights were recognized in Britain in 1928. Scrolling text reveal other countries who followed suit to the present day.


All characters aside from Pankhurst, Davison, Lloyd George and King George V are fictitious.



In April 2011, it was announced that Film4 Productions, Focus Features and Ruby Films were developing a history drama film about the British women's suffrage movement of the late 19th and early 20th century.[10] Abi Morgan was set to write the script while Sarah Gavron was attached to direct the film.[10] On 24 October 2013, it was revealed that Pathé has replaced Focus, while the BFI Film Fund was to fund the film and that Ryan Kavanaugh was attached to produce the British film [5]

In October 2014, Relativity Media acquired only the North American rights and Pathé the international rights to distribute Suffragette theatrically. However, in March 17, 2015, Focus Features took over the North American distribution rights for the film, right after the success of The Theory of Everything. the main reason they did that was that Relativity had filed for bankruptcy, so Focus took over the distribution rights in the USA and Ryan dropped out of producing the film due to the bankruptcy of Relativity.[11]


Carey Mulligan was cast to play the lead role on 24 February 2013;[5] Helena Bonham Carter joined on 20 December 2013;[6] Meryl Streep was cast as British suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst on 19 February 2014;[4] Ben Whishaw and Brendan Gleeson joined the cast on 20 February 2014.[9]


Principal photography of the film began on 24 February 2014 in London.[9]


The film was released in the United Kingdom and Ireland on 12 October 2015 by Pathé.[12]

On 27 March 2015, Relativity Media was originally going to distribute the film in the U.S. only, But because Relativity filed for bankruptcy, producers had put the British still on the market, a new distributior is currently unknown. later Focus Features acquired the North American rights to the film taking the U.S. distribution rights from Relativity from Pathé on 17 March 2015 and making a turnaround from Relativity to Focus, Focus set the film for an 23 October 2015 limited release in the United States. After taking over the film rights from Relativity.[13]

In June 2015, it was announced that Suffragette would receive its European Premiere on 7 October 2015 as the opening film of the BFI London Film Festival. The LFF Director Clare Stewart said Sarah Gavron's feature was an “urgent and compelling film, made by British women, about British women who changed the course of history.”[14] The film premiered at the Telluride Film Festival on 4 September 2015.

The group Sisters Uncut demonstrated at the London premiere against cuts to domestic violence services,[15] which Helena Bonham-Carter described as "perfect. If you feel strongly enough about something and there's an injustice there you can speak out and try to get something changed". Carey Mulligan said that the protest was "awesome" and that she was sad she had missed it.[16]


Box office

As of March 7, 2016, Suffragette has grossed $4.7 million in North America and $25.3 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $30 million, against a budget of $14 million.[3]

Critical reception

Suffragette has received mostly positive reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 72%, based on 131 reviews, with an average rating of 6.6/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Suffragette dramatizes an important – and still painfully relevant – fact-based story with more than enough craft and sincerity to overcome its flaws."[17] On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 67 out of 100, based on 37 critics, indicating "generally favourable reviews".[18]

Particular praise has been directed at the cast, most notably Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham Carter. Whilst Meryl Streep's brief appearance has been praised, there has been some criticism that her significant position within the marketing was misleading.

Claims of racial insensitivity

In the lead-up to its release, Suffragette was accused of racial insensitivity.[19] Others, referencing an American context, argued that one of the publicity campaigns for the film, in which the four (white) lead actresses wore t-shirts containing the historically accurate words "I'd rather be a rebel than a slave" from a speech by Emmeline Pankhurst, were now racially insensitive.[20][21]

At a BAFTA screening of Suffragette in London on 17th November 2015, the film's screenwriter Abi Morgan explained that due to the low levels of non-European immigrants residing in Britain in 1911-13, there were very few suffragettes of colour in the UK, and that those few, such as Indian princess Sophia Duleep Singh, were upper class women who did not move in the working class circles in which Suffragette is set, that is, in London in 1912. The film focused on a small representative group of women in order to portray the specific political context of the time and to communicate the emotional impact on women who lose their children or livelihoods, for example, as a result of disempowering laws. Dr Paula Bartley, a historian focusing on women in history and the suffrage movement, and biographer of Emmeline Pankhurst, confirmed that the film's depiction of race was historically accurate, telling the New Statesman, "Britain [in 1911-13] was a white society in the main, and [its] suffragette movement reflected that." Dr Bartley stressed that the British suffragette movement was "very different from the American case or the Australian case or the New Zealand case, because although there were ethnic minorities in Britain at that time, there wasn't the same scale or the same questions of citizenship as there were in other countries'.[22]


See also


  1. "SUFFRAGETTE (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. 27 March 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Riley, Jenelle. "Meet the Women Who Finally Brought Meryl Streep's 'Suffragette' to the Big Screen". Variety. Retrieved 8 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Suffragette (2014)". The Numbers. Retrieved 7 March 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Sneider, Jeff (19 February 2014). "Meryl Streep to Join Carey Mulligan in Women's Rights Drama 'Suffragette'". TheWrap. Retrieved 26 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Kemp, Stuart (24 October 2013). "Pathe Replaces Focus Features International On Carey Mulligan's 'Suffragette'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 26 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 Kroll, Justin (20 December 2013). "Helena Bonham Carter Joins Carey Mulligan in 'Suffragette'". Variety. Retrieved 26 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Truffaut-Wong, Olivia (22 October 2015). "Is Edith In 'Suffragette' Based On A Real Person? The Movie Took Inspiration From Actual Fighters For Women's Rights". Bustle. Retrieved 25 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Herbert Asquith: Biography". Spartacus Educational. Retrieved 25 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 Wiseman, Andreas (20 February 2014). "Ben Whishaw, Brendan Gleeson join Suffragette". Screen Daily. Retrieved 26 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. 10.0 10.1 Dawtrey, Adam (6 April 2011). "Film4, Focus develop 'Suffragettes'". Variety. Retrieved 26 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Evry, Max (17 March 2015). "Focus Features Acquires Suffragette, Starring Carey Mulligan and Meryl Streep". Retrieved 22 March 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Bradshaw, Peter (7 October 2015). "Suffragette review – a valuable, vital film about how human rights are won". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Pedersen, Erik (27 March 2015). "Meryl Streep's 'Suffragette' Gets Fall Release Date". Deadline. Retrieved 6 April 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Korsner, Jason (3 June 2015). "What's Worth Seeing: Suffragette to open London Film Festival 2015". What’s Worth Seeing…. Retrieved 3 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Baker, Keiligh Suffragette premiere is invaded by domestic violence campaigners 7 October 2015 Daily Mail Retrieved 8 October 2015
  16. Gander, Kashmira & Townsend, Megan Suffragette premiere: Protesters lie on red carpet in demonstration against cuts to domestic violence services 7 October 2015 The Independent Retrieved 8 October 2015
  17. "Suffragette (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 12 November 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "Suffragette". Metacritic. Retrieved 12 November 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "Suffragette". Guardian. Retrieved 21 November 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Rebecca Carroll. "Suffragette's publicity campaign and the politics of erasure". the Guardian.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "Ava DuVernay On Why We Can't Write Off Criticism Of That 'Suffragette' Shoot". The Huffington Post. 7 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "What did the suffragette movement in Britain really look like?".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Nancy Tartaglione. "British Independent Film Awards: Alex Garland's 'Ex Machina' Sweeps Best Film, Director, Screenplay – Update - Deadline". Deadline.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 "Suffragette (2015) Awards". IMDB.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links