It was not that long ago when women had no right to vote, or even voice that could have been heard in the men’s world. It was not that long ago when women had no rights on their own child that they gave birth to. It was just recently when women gained the right, earned through the sufferings, fight and struggle to get what they have now. But in order to not be ignored in their right to exercise human rights and to be respected in the society they learned a few lessons that helped me to succeed: talk if you want to be heard; speak loud if nobody hears what you say; do not give up in what you believe; or to do as Emmeline Pankhurst (Meryl Streep) says, “I’d rather be a rebel than a slave.” This is a story of Suffragette movement which occurred in Britain, where a group of women will change the course of history by sacrificing the only thing they had that mattered – their life.
It was 2007 when filmmaker Sarah Gavron directed her first feature film, Brick Lane which turned out as a huge success. And after that, she comes back only now, even with a bigger film, with a disturbing subject matter, with strong cast, superbly written screenplay and with dazzling performance of Carey Mulligan, who I must say delivers a performance from out of this world. But moreover, Gavron manages to make you not only feel uncomfortable watching Suffragette, but also makes you watch it though the painful torture seeing how far we did not go from the time that happened around 80 years ago, and still continues in some parts of the world. Yes, indeed, it’s difficult to watch Suffragette, but meantime, this is the only known way for us to know better what happened back then and perhaps, feel a bit more grateful for the sacrifice, and the outcome of it that our generation does not need to fight for.
There are no main characters in Gavron’s film. Despite having the great Carey Mulligan as Maud Watts, a woman who becomes the subject of ‘force feeding’ and a mother who loses her son due to lack of law where only a man has rights to decide what to do with their child. It’s Natalie Press who plays a brave, courageous woman, Emily Wilding Davison who does not hesitate to do what seemed right to her in order to bring the attention of the King and the whole world to get long-waited rights – to be heard and have equal rights. All those women join Edith Ellyn (Helena Bonham Carter) to become a suffragist, a member of suffrage movement in Great Britain. Unfortunately, as the film unfolds, we see how the government prevents all their, first, peaceful, and then violent protests. We see how women are beaten up and imprisoned for pursuing to have equal rights to vote. But mainly, voting perhaps, would not bring any changes in terms of politics, but those women who you will meet throughout the film will remind you how important it is to live in a free world, to have rights to express your opinion despite your gender.
Suffragette is one of the most important films made recently that will remind you many forgotten names, or introduce you to a new one. It will show you how ‘big people’ change their focus from slavery to women’s rights. It will show you how men back then were afraid of educated women, whose opinion could have been counted more than a man’s one. It also emphasises that without sacrifices nobody will do anything to change a little thing. Changes never come without an act. Words are never heard if you say nothing. If you remain silent, then you will be unnoticed. And more importantly, this movie is about not giving up at any cost, because that cost will bring a better future for the next generation, the way the ‘Suffragette’ movement did for us.