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 mins 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 mins 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.
Short documentary201510 mins
BFI's silent film curator, Bryony Dixon, explores the BFI National Archive's holdings around women's suffrage.
Non-Fiction19111 mins 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-Fiction19131 mins 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.
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-Fiction19103 mins Location: London
Multitudes of women protest on the streets of London in a demonstration organised by the Women’s Social and Political Union on 18 June 1910.
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.
Non-Fiction19171 mins Location: London
The leading organisation fighting for women's suffrage changes tack, as Christabel and Emmeline Pankhurst launch the Women's Party.
Non-Fiction19152 mins Location: Buckingham Palace
"Three cheers to our gallant soldiers", proclaim suffragette marchers as they rally to show their willingness to help the war effort.