The new movie Suffragette, starring Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter and Meryl Streep, tells of the hard-fought battle for the right to vote for women in the United Kingdom in the early 1900s.
The film centers around working-class Maud Watts, played by Mulligan, as she becomes disillusioned with her everyday reality and joins the suffragette movement at great personal sacrifice.
Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric discussed the making of the movie, the real suffragettes and their lasting relevance in the world with Mulligan, director Sarah Gavron, screenwriter Abi Morgan and co-producer Alison Owen.
Gavron said she made the movie because she “couldn’t believe there had never been a big-screen version of this story.” She continued, “It’s such an important part of our history. It felt like it was timely and overdue to resurrect this story of these women who had fought this incredible battle and really changed the course of history.”
THE STORY BEHIND ‘SUFFRAGETTE’
An extensive amount of research was required for all involved with the film. Morgan said, “I started to realize there was this other level of suffrage amongst the working-class women. … When they went to riots and when they were arrested, they would come back and they’d lose their jobs. So we suddenly realized this could be a very modern-day telling in a way of so many of the conditions that affected these women. It felt very resonant today.”
The team behind Suffragette also faced many challenges during the six years it took for it to be made. “One was to convince everyone that we wanted to tell this story on a big landscape. We didn’t want to just make a small art movie,” said Owen. “They also wanted to tell the story of a suffragette like a Mrs. Banks suffragette and not the raw story of the working-class women.”
THE CHARACTERS OF ‘SUFFRAGETTE’
While the movie tells the story of a fictionalized, composite character, Maud, she interacts with historical figures in the U.K. women’s suffrage movement, including Emmeline Pankhurst, played by Streep, and Emily Wilding Davison, played by Natalie Press.
The suffragettes followed a campaign of militant civil disobedience, believing “deeds, not words” were the path to the vote. The women would engage in activities such as throwing rocks at storefront windows and damaging private property.
‘SUFFRAGETTE’: A MODERN TALE
Though the movie captures the history of the suffrage movement, the filmmakers hope that the message and spirit of the film will be inspiring to women everywhere.
“It’s not just a documentary about a time,” said Mulligan. “It’s not just saying, ‘This happened and we owe them a great deal and that’s brilliant.’ It’s saying, ‘That happened and we do owe them, but look where we are now.’ If you look globally, we have much farther to go. I hope it makes people feel empowered to speak up and do something.”
Suffragette is expanding nationwide throughout November. The team behind the movie started the #HopeForOurDaughters program to bring awareness to current day issues of inequality and the organizations working to make a difference.