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Friday 17th January @ 19:30 - 21:30
Following the Civil Wars, poverty and unrest were widespread in England in 1649. This film tells of Gerrard Winstanley’s attempt to form a settlement with a band of men and women – the Diggers – to cultivate crops, raise animals and share the wealth of the common land. The site chosen was St. George’s Hill in Surrey.
Winstanley recognised that since the Norman conquest, the common people had suffered greatly at the hands of Lords of the Manor, through their control of the land . He considered that the earth, our common treasury, should be shared among all. The film portrays the man and his thoughts, together with the times in which he lived.
This is the second feature film directed by Kevin Brownlow and Andrew Mollo. As in their first (It Happened Here) attention to accuracy has been paramount, reflected in the historical details of the opening battle scenes, armour and weapons; the clothing worn, the agricultural implements used, the rare animal breeds shown and the construction of the dwellings.
Miles Halliwell (a political lecturer in It Happened Here) was impressed by the novel Comrade Jacob by David Caute, thinking it could be made into a good film. This came about eventually by casting non-professional actors (with one exception: Jerome Wills as General Fairfax). Miles Halliwell, who plays Winstanley, was instrumental in making suggestions for casting other roles. Filming took place mainly at weekends over a period of one year. This allowed the changing seasons to be shown and for the Diggers to grow their own crops.
We are screening a Blu-ray disc, remastered from restored negatives under the supervision of the Director Kevin Brownlow and Director of Photography Ernest Vincze.
Director Kevin Brownlow has kindly agreed to hold a Q&A following the screening.
UK | 1975 | black and white | 92 minutes
‘Very good history. But more important than this convincing background is the imaginative reconstruction of the world in which the Diggers lived – still torn by social conflict, but one in which fundamental reform still seemed possible. This film can teach us more about ordinary people in seventeenth-century England than a score of text books.’ Christopher Hill (Balliol College, Oxford)
‘Stark monochrome beauty.’ The Guardian