Mothers of the Revolution is a moving and riveting documentary that showcases the power of dedication and how no matter the cause, it is worth fighting for. Briar March’s film is an important documentary to watch.
In 1981, thousands of women came together to oppose nuclear weapons being installed at an RAF base in Berkshire. It was the start of a series of protests that would last 19 years. Mothers of the Revolution recounts the incredible stories of ordinary women who stepped out of their daily lives to take part in a cause whose ramifications were seismic. Some became instrumental in international politics, and others discovered a liberating way of living.
With hope, moments like the Greenham Common protests should be taught in schools in history; it feels inconceivable that this journey these brave women took is only being highlighted now for many. To hammer that point home, this is the first time I heard of these protests, and as Mothers of the Revolution continued, the more frustrated I became about not learning about this sooner. We see clearly how dedication to a cause can be fruitful, can make a difference.
Make no mistake; these women fought for years to make a difference, and goodness, what a difference they made for everyone in the world. It really cannot be overstated how important they are, and you almost want to thank Briar March and co-writer Matthew Metcalfe for bringing this to the attention of younger generations who may not have known anything about them.
Sadly and rather unsurprisingly, once the group begin to get notoriety in the media to their cause and the bailiffs come, they come in far too heavy-handed and thus allow a brutish nature to take hold. Would these men have been as violent to the protestors if they were men? We will leave you to come up with your own assumptions on that one. Here we see and hear stories of how violent things got for the women, hopeless scare tactics from hired hands and the police. A rather chilling story is told from one protestor who was detained in police custody. It makes you shiver; in today’s current climate, with the fear women have of the police, the feeling as if this type of treatment is something that will never go away.
The talking heads of protestors today as they remember that period in their lives coupled with archive photos and footage with well-done re-enactments allows Briar March’s audience to get as complete a picture as possible. With so many stories to tell and there are bound to be hours of unused footage, a word needs to be said about the pitch-perfect structure and editing from the team of Simon Coldrick, Margot Francis, John Gilbert, Hamish McCormick and Tim Woodhouse. Mothers of the Revolution could go multiple hours, but to concisely break down everything in such a manner deserves its own round of applause. Documentary editors never get the credit they deserve.
Yet you do want to learn so much more about the efforts these women went through. After all, some were there for years protesting, and that is before we even get to the efforts of some of the group who went to Russia to try and talk to their peers there. So we get just enough information to get by. However, it would be wonderful to know the whole story; as those on that trip begin to detail their story, there is a compelling thriller right there waiting to get made.
The overarching story of what these women did brings you in, but what keeps you glued to the screen is the personal stories they share, some humorous, some heartbreaking. These women sacrificed so much for their children and future generations, and to listen to what they went through moves you deeply.
Some documentaries are better left not sharing too much about, and Mothers of the Revolution is one such documentary Briar March has made a terrific piece. Hopefully, it won’t be as long before we see another from her. Through all of the tension that she ekes out of her story, March can ensure that the spirit and celebration of Greenham Common aren’t forgotten. It is essential not to forget moments like that; they are vital to young girls to know what came before them and the strength that took which is residing within them.
For more coverage of the 2021 London Film Festival, have a look below!
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