Culture

Two films; few answers

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Nick Grant contrasts two new films on the neo-Nazi atrocity in Norway in 2011.

On 22 July 2011 a Norwegian neo-Nazi stunned the world with his cold-blooded slaughter of 77 people. Another 242 were seriously injured, many permanently disabled.

Most victims were members of the Norwegian Labour Party at a Workers Youth League camp on the tiny island of Utoya. Eight of the deaths plus most casualties were caused by his van-bombing of a government building in Oslo earlier the same day.

Charles Aznavour: a forgotten episode

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Charles Aznavour, the French singer and songwriter, died on 1 October, aged 94.

The son of parents who had fled the Armenian genocide during the First World War, his family’s involvement with the Communist resistance movement in Paris during the Second World War has not been given enough prominence in the obituaries that have appeared in the British press.

Nae Pasaran!

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This is an inspiring documentary about one of the high points of Scottish trade unionism. It follows four former Rolls Royce engineers who, in 1974, some six months after Pinochet’s bloody coup against the Allende government in Chile, led a campaign to “black” — stop all maintenance work — on the engines of Hawker Hunter jets flown by the Chilean air force.

Four engines ended up in crates at the back of Rolls Royce’s plant in East Kilbride for four years before they mysteriously disappeared.

Peterloo

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The immense power of the Manchester textile factories hits you in the face in an early shot in Peterloo. Workers in this new industry were surrounded by dangerous machines. They were replacing the work done in homes by weavers, who were suffering the hardships of a declining workforce.

Later, during the mass protest for democracy on Monday 16 August 1819, when the factories are empty and the machines lie dead, the contrast leaves you with a sense of what power really is. “Scum” cries a boss, walking down an empty street.

Laughing with Tony Hancock

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This year we celebrated the 50th anniversary of 1968, that iconic year of struggle continues to provide inspiration in the fight for justice and equality. But there was also a sad anniversary: 2018 marked 50 years since the suicide of Tony Hancock, one of Britain’s best loved comedians, aged just 44.

At the height of his popularity 15 million people tuned into the radio programme, Hancock’s Half Hour, broadcast from 1954 to 1961, which doubled up as a television show from 1956.

Interview: Women of Aktion

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In this new production by Bent Architect, the stories of revolutionary women who helped bring about the end of the First World War are explored through an imagined collaboration between radical theatre maker Joan Littlewood and German revolutionary playwright Ernst Toller. Socialist Review spoke to the play’s writer and co-director (with Jude Wright), Mick Martin.

What led you to look at women’s stories from the German Revolution?

Professor Ingrid Sharp from Leeds University came to see our 2014 play England, Arise! about the Huddersfield socialist conscientious objectors in the First World War, and she loved it. Her specialist areas of interest are the German anti-war movement and women’s history. She said that the German anti-war movement has not really been looked into, and that German historians tend not to be as focused on women’s history as is the case here.

Every Day I Make Greatness Happen

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Having spent 20 years teaching, I thought that going to see a play about education might be a bit of a busman’s holiday. I was also worried that it might be rather like one of those programmes on television about schools that are so unrealistic as to distract anyone with any knowledge of what happens there. I need not have worried. This excellent and well observed play by Richard Molloy is realistic to the point of painfulness. The frustration, the hope, the joy of what it is like to work or study in the contemporary education system is beautifully shown.

Black 47

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“This is going to be harrowing”, I said to myself as I set out to see Black 47, the newly released film about the Irish Famine. In the event it was much less harrowing than I expected. Indeed parts of it were almost fun. But this is hardly to the film’s credit.

Of course it is very good that there is now a film about the famine — amazingly for the first time ever.

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