Film

Edge of Democracy

Author

Janet Burstall and Tony Brown

Petra Costa was a child when Workers’ Party (PT) leader Lula da Silva became President of Brazil in 2003. Her parents had been detained and worked underground for the PT and the overthrow of the military dictatorship of 1965-1985. This documentary is a personal quest to make sense of her deep disappointment at the overthrow of the PT government of 2003-2018 by supporters of that military dictatorship.

Organising cleaners in the 1970s

Author

Bruce Robinson

Shown as part of the “Women Organise!” film season in Manchester, The Nightcleaners is a documentary about the struggle to organise women office cleaners in 1970-72. The film has many resonances today when organising cleaners and other low-paid, insecure workers is again a central task for the unions.

The Good Soldier Schwejk

Author

Jill Mountford

Jill Mountford reviews The Good Soldier Schwejk (and His Fortunes in the World War) - written by Jaroslav Hasek, published 1923, adapted and directed by Christine Edzard, Sands Films, 2017. Currently being shown in Rotherhithe, London, and soon to be released on DVD.

Christine Edzard has made it her mission to revive interest in what was possibly the first satirical comedy about the absurdity of war. She adapted The Good Soldier Schwejk (sometimes spelt Svejk, pronounced Shvake) to mark the centenary of World War I.

Telling the truth about wars

Author

Simon Nelson

The career of the journalist Marie Colvin was fairly unique. She covered most of the major conflicts of the 1990s and 2000s up until her death in Homs, Syria, in 2012.

Her articles in the Sunday Times brought across some of the horrors of war, not just the conflicts between political factions and leaders but the stories of mass graves in Fallujah, and the near starvation of internally displaced Tamils. Until her death she may be remembered as one of the last journalists to interview Colonel Gadaffi before he was killed in the Libyan conflict of 2011.

Sex and the City Goes to Holyrood

Author

Dale Street

At first sight "Mary Queen of Scots", released in the UK on 18 January, appears to be another celluloid contribution to the cult of Mariolatry.

Its trailer portrays Mary as an armour-clad warrior leading her troops into battle, a target of religious misogyny, a feisty heroine who faces down Queen Elizabeth, a victim of patriarchal politics, a champion of equal rights, and a fatal casualty of her own virtues.

The politics of 'Casablanca'

Author

Sean Matgamna

Copy-edited and slightly modified version of text in printed paper

Casablanca, which came out in November 1942, in the first year of US participation in the Second World War, may be the most popular Hollywood movie ever made. It is at the centre of a big cult, and part of another big cult, that of its star, Humphrey Bogart.

Stalinism and its zig zags

Author

Sean Matgamna

To understand Casablanca's subtexts, we need to look at what the Stalinists were doing in the 1930s and in 1942.

Core political Stalinism outside Russia, always and everywhere so long as it remained itself, was service to Russia, devotion to the idea that socialism was being built there and it was the duty of socialists to serve it. Everything else in their governing values and in their practical politics came lower in the political scales than that.

Dirty Old Town

Author

Sean Matgamna

A vast number of popular singers have by now recorded Ewan McColl’s song “Dirty Old Town.” Luke Kelly, Liam Clancy, Esther Offarim, The Pogues, Rod Stewart (in Las Vegas!), Paddy Reilly, Van Morrison, Roger Whittaker, Julie Felix, and many others.
It is sung by Manchester United supporters at football matches. (Salford is part of Manchester).

It is a good song, I think. It was made in 1949 for performance at London’s Unity Theatre, an ancillary organisation of the British Communist Party (CP).

Letter: One king or another

Author

Daniel Randall

Like Dale Street, Solidarity 486, I rather wonder whether the “pro-independence fundamentalists” who have described David Mackenzie’s Outlaw King as a “clarion call for Scottish independence” can possibly have been watching the same film I saw.

Peterloo: inside the movement

Author

Ruaraidh Anderson

Mike Leigh’s new film ‘Peterloo’ follows the democratic reform movement in Britain in the run up to the St. Peter’s Field massacre in 1819.

After a long build-up we are shown the attack itself, when the yeomanry (a local armed volunteer force) are ordered to march on the tens-of-thousands strong protest, killing 15, and then left to reflect during a sombre final scene: the burial of a murdered protestor.

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