Suffragettes on Film
"You have to make more noise than anybody else!," cried Suffragette pioneer Emmeline Pankhurst. But how to make more noise in silent film?
"Make more Noise!" was the rallying cry of Emmeline Pankhurst to the campaigners for women's votes. The suffragettes' strategy was simple but clever - the idea was to stand up at every public meeting or gathering and cry "votes for women!". But how do you make more noise in silent film? In an age when the moving image was beginning to really matter, the suffragettes had to make sure that they were not just heard, but seen. The newsreels were noticeably more neutral in their reporting than the print media. So newsreel cameramen were invited to all the big demonstrations and given privileged vantage points, while banners and placards were carefully placed for the cameras. The first ever representation of a suffragette in a British film was in 1899, in a comedy where a pair of gossipy old women (played by men in drag) are the object of male ridicule. By 1913, the outrageous satire Milling the Militants again uses a suffragette as a stock comic character, but to more ambiguous effect. It was the licence allowed by comedy that freed film's female characters, like the delightfully modern Tilly girls, to make one hell of a noise.
Non-Fiction19132 minsSilent Location: Bloomsbury
The funeral procession of suffragette Emily Davison - fatally injured at the Epsom Derby - passes through London to her final resting place in Morpeth.
Non-Fiction19135 minsSilent Location: Epsom
A momentous act of self sacrifice is caught on camera - Emily Davison is trampled by the King's horse at the 1913 Epsom Derby.
Left with the kids while his wife campaigns for women's votes, an aggrieved husband dreams of punishing all suffragettes.
Meet the Suffragettes: The Original Media-DisruptorsMeet the Suffragettes: The Original Media-Disruptors
Short documentary201510 mins
BFI's silent film curator, Bryony Dixon, explores the BFI National Archive's holdings around women's suffrage.
Non-Fiction19141 minsSilent Location: Buckingham Palace
The campaign for women's suffrage steps up as Emmeline Pankhurst is arrested at the gates of Buckingham Palace.
Non-Fiction19103 minsSilent Location: London
An early view of Emily Wilding Davison in the multitudes of women in a mass demonstration organised by the Women’s Social and Political Union on 18 June 1910
Non-Fiction19111 minsSilent Location: London
History's 'most famous women' - and 66,000 mere mortals - rally to the Suffragette cause in a magnificent pageant and Coronation procession.
Non-Fiction19101 minsSilent Location: Westminster
Panic on the streets of London: a women's suffrage protest breaks into violence.
Non-Fiction19131 minsSilent Location: Westminster
The fight for women's suffrage momentarily falters on a gloomy day in January 1913.
Non-Fiction19131 minsSilent Location: Hyde Park
Three cheers for women's right to vote! Thousands of 'peaceful, law-abiding Suffragists' - and their hat-waving supporters - converge on Hyde Park.
Non-Fiction19101 minsSilent Location: Trafalgar Square
Votes for Women protesters swamp Trafalgar Square, brandishing placards and petitions.
A comedy clot takes up phrenology and tries to find his ideal partner by feeling the bumps on women's heads, only to end up as a cannibal's dinner.
Non-Fiction19151 minsSilent Location: London
Suffragettes advance from Bow to Baker Street, jostling with the London traffic on their way to the Portman Rooms.
Non-Fiction19131 minsSilent Location: St Leonards
Militant suffragettes torch Levetleigh, St Leonards, former home of Arthur Du Cros, Conservative MP for Hastings and Rye.
Documentary19771 mins Location: Northumberland
This jaunty hand-drawn animation charts the history of womens revolutionary road to freedom in the North East - from Stone Age sister to suffragette of the twentieth century.
A henpecked husband plots revenge on his boastful bachelor friend by marrying him to a seemingly meek girl who turns out to be anything but.
Mischievous sisters Tilly and Sally borrow a fire engine and take it for a joy ride in this spirited film comedy.
Non-Fiction19171 minsSilent Location: London
The leading organisation fighting for women's suffrage changes tack, as Christabel and Emmeline Pankhurst launch the Women's Party.
Scenes from Suffragette Demonstration at NewcastleScenes from Suffragette Demonstration at Newcastle
Non-Fiction19091 minsSilent Location: Newcastle upon Tyne
Supporters of the Women's Social and Political Union campaign in the North East.
Non-Fiction19152 minsSilent Location: Buckingham Palace
"Three cheers to our gallant soldiers", proclaim suffragette marchers as they rally to show their willingness to help the war effort.
Non-Fiction19131 minsSilent Location: Trafalgar Square
A suffragette demonstration led by Sylvia Pankhurst ends in chaos as police prevent a march on Downing Street.