Suffragette (film)

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Suffragette poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Sarah Gavron
Produced by
Written by Abi Morgan
Music by Alexandre Desplat
Cinematography Edu Grau
Edited by Barney Pilling
Distributed by Pathé
Release date
  • 4 September 2015 (2015-09-04) (Telluride)
  • 12 October 2015 (2015-10-12)
Running time
106 minutes[1]
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $14 million[2]
Box office $34.04 million[3]

Suffragette is a 2015 British historical period drama film about women's suffrage in the United Kingdom, directed by Sarah Gavron and written by Abi Morgan. The film stars Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Brendan Gleeson, Anne-Marie Duff, Ben Whishaw, and Meryl Streep.[4]

Filming began on 24 February 2014. It is the first film in history to be shot in the Houses of Parliament, done with the permission of MPs. The film was released in the United Kingdom on 12 October 2015 by Pathé and had a limited release in the United States on 23 October 2015 by Focus Features.


In 1912, Maud Watts is a 24-year-old laundress. One day while delivering a package, she is caught up in a suffragette protest, where she recognizes one of her colleagues, Violet Miller. Later, Alice Haughton, the wife of an MP, encourages the women from the laundry to give their testimony to parliament in order to secure the right to vote. Violet is the one who offers; however, she is beaten by her abusive husband and subsequently Maud is the one who testifies. Maud is energised by her testimony and goes with Violet and other women to see if women have been given the right to vote. The women gathered together learn that they have not, and subsequently the police officers begin beating them. Maud is caught up in the crowd, arrested, and jailed for a week. While in jail, she meets Emily Davison, a confidant of Emmeline Pankhurst.

Returning home, Maud faces stigma from her neighbours and work colleagues. She promises her husband Sonny that she will stay away from the suffragettes. However, Maud is invited to a secret rally to hear Pankhurst speak. While there, she has a brief exchange with Pankhurst, after which she is detained by the police again who drop her off in front of her home. This time, her husband throws her out on the street. Maud struggles to see her son despite her husband's objections, and continues to work until her picture is printed in the newspaper as a known suffragette. Maud is then fired and, reaching a breaking point, takes an iron and burns the hand of her male supervisor (who has been sexually abusing girls in the laundry for years). The police are called and Inspector Steed allows her to leave and offers her an opportunity to inform on the other members of her cell. Maud refuses.

Sonny continues to prevent Maud from seeing George, and points out that by law he can do so. This prompts Maud into more radicalism to get laws changed in favour of women's rights. Eventually she learns that, as Sonny has been ostracised by the community, he no longer feels capable of taking care of George. He offers George for adoption. With no family ties, Maud becomes more and more radical and is involved in the bombing of pillar boxes and the cutting of telegraph wires. Then she and her comrades are imprisoned again after they blow up an empty Parliamentary residence. In prison, Maud goes on hunger strike and is subjected to brutal force-feeding.

However, the police begin to pressure the newspapers to drop the story and the suffragettes feel that they must do more drastic activities in order to gain attention. The women decide to attend the Epsom Derby when King George V will be in attendance, in order to step in front of the cameras and unfurl their banners. However, on the day, only Maud and Emily Davison are able to make it. When they are barred from the area where King George V is standing, Emily decides that they must carry on anyway. While the race is underway, Emily steps onto the track and Maud witnesses her being trampled to death. Suffragette Maud later joins in her funeral procession; and, the film ends by revealing that women's rights were recognised in Britain in 1918 after the war. Scrolling text lists other countries that followed suit.


All characters aside from Pankhurst, Davison, Lloyd George and King George V are fictitious.



In April 2011, it was announced that Film4 Productions, Focus Features and Ruby Films were developing a history drama film about the British women's suffrage movement of the late 19th and early 20th century.[10] Abi Morgan was set to write the script while Sarah Gavron was attached to direct the film.[10] On 24 October 2013, it was revealed that Pathé has replaced Focus, while the BFI Film Fund was to fund the film and that Ryan Kavanaugh was attached to produce the British film [5]

In October 2014, Relativity Media acquired only the North American rights and Pathé the international rights to distribute Suffragette. However, in 17 March 2015, Focus Features took over the North American distribution rights, after the success of The Theory of Everything. The main reason was that Relativity had filed for bankruptcy, so Focus took over the distribution rights in the USA and Ryan dropped out of producing the film due to the bankruptcy of Relativity.[11]


Carey Mulligan was cast to play the lead role on 24 February 2013;[5] Helena Bonham Carter joined on 20 December 2013;[6] Meryl Streep was cast as British suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst on 19 February 2014;[4] Ben Whishaw and Brendan Gleeson joined the cast on 20 February 2014.[9]


Principal photography of the film began on 24 February 2014 in London.[9] The production also visited The Historic Dockyard Chatham where they filmed the factory and prison scenes.[12]


The film was released in the United Kingdom and Ireland on 12 October 2015 by Pathé.[13]

On 27 March 2015, Relativity Media was originally going to distribute the film in the U.S. only, but because Relativity filed for bankruptcy, producers had put the British still on the market, a new distributior is currently unknown. Later Focus Features acquired the North American rights to the film taking the U.S. distribution rights from Relativity to Pathé on 17 March 2015 and making a turnaround from Relativity to Focus, Focus set the film for a 23 October 2015 limited release in the United States. After taking over the film rights from Relativity.[14]

In June 2015, it was announced that Suffragette would receive its European Premiere on 7 October 2015 as the opening film of the BFI London Film Festival. The LFF Director Clare Stewart said Sarah Gavron's feature was an “urgent and compelling film, made by British women, about British women who changed the course of history.”[15] The film premiered at the Telluride Film Festival on 4 September 2015.

The group Sisters Uncut demonstrated at the London premiere against cuts to domestic violence services,[16] which Helena Bonham-Carter described as "perfect. If you feel strongly enough about something and there's an injustice there you can speak out and try to get something changed". Carey Mulligan said that the protest was "awesome" and that she was sad she had missed it.[17]


Box office[edit]

As of 7 March 2016, Suffragette had grossed $30 million against a budget of $14 million.[18]

Critical reception[edit]

Suffragette has received positive reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 73%, based on 179 reviews, with an average rating of 6.6/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Suffragette dramatizes an important – and still painfully relevant – fact-based story with more than enough craft and sincerity to overcome its flaws."[19] On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 67 out of 100, based on 37 critics, indicating "generally favourable reviews".[20]


Particular praise was directed at the cast, most notably Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham Carter. Whilst Meryl Streep's brief appearance has been praised, there has been some criticism that her significant position within the marketing was misleading.

Some have criticised the lack of mention within the film of Princess Sophia Duleep Singh, the Punjabi princess of Ethiopian, German and Indian descent, who was a suffragist of significant importance. However, the film mostly dealt with working-class women, and only briefly included Pankhurst, who was anyway Singh's superior in the Committee of Suffrage Fellowship and a far more well-known and, according to most, by far the more important figure, certainly in the eyes of people at the time.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "SUFFRAGETTE (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. 27 March 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2015. 
  2. ^ Riley, Jenelle. "Meet the Women Who Finally Brought Meryl Streep's 'Suffragette' to the Big Screen". Variety. Retrieved 8 October 2015. 
  3. ^ "Suffragette (2014)". The Numbers. Retrieved 7 March 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c Sneider, Jeff (19 February 2014). "Meryl Streep to Join Carey Mulligan in Women’s Rights Drama ‘Suffragette’". TheWrap. Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c Kemp, Stuart (24 October 2013). "Pathe Replaces Focus Features International On Carey Mulligan's 'Suffragette'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  6. ^ a b Kroll, Justin (20 December 2013). "Helena Bonham Carter Joins Carey Mulligan in ‘Suffragette’". Variety. Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  7. ^ Truffaut-Wong, Olivia (22 October 2015). "Is Edith In 'Suffragette' Based On A Real Person? The Movie Took Inspiration From Actual Fighters For Women's Rights". Bustle. Retrieved 25 October 2015. 
  8. ^ "Herbert Asquith: Biography". Spartacus Educational. Retrieved 25 October 2015. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Wiseman, Andreas (20 February 2014). "Ben Whishaw, Brendan Gleeson join Suffragette". Screen Daily. Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  10. ^ a b Dawtrey, Adam (6 April 2011). "Film4, Focus develop ‘Suffragettes’". Variety. Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  11. ^ Evry, Max (17 March 2015). "Focus Features Acquires Suffragette, Starring Carey Mulligan and Meryl Streep". Retrieved 22 March 2015. 
  12. ^ Kent Film Office. "Kent Film Office Suffragette Article". 
  13. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (7 October 2015). "Suffragette review – a valuable, vital film about how human rights are won". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 October 2015. 
  14. ^ Pedersen, Erik (27 March 2015). "Meryl Streep’s ‘Suffragette’ Gets Fall Release Date". Deadline. Retrieved 6 April 2015. 
  15. ^ Korsner, Jason (3 June 2015). "What's Worth Seeing: Suffragette to open London Film Festival 2015". What’s Worth Seeing…. Retrieved 3 June 2015. 
  16. ^ Baker, Keiligh Suffragette premiere is invaded by domestic violence campaigners 7 October 2015 Daily Mail Retrieved 8 October 2015
  17. ^ Gander, Kashmira & Townsend, Megan Suffragette premiere: Protesters lie on red carpet in demonstration against cuts to domestic violence services 7 October 2015 The Independent Retrieved 8 October 2015
  18. ^ "Suffragette (2014)". The Numbers. Retrieved 7 March 2016. 
  19. ^ "Suffragette (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 12 November 2015. 
  20. ^ "Suffragette". Metacritic. Retrieved 12 November 2015. 
  21. ^ Nancy Tartaglione. "British Independent Film Awards: Alex Garland’s ‘Ex Machina’ Sweeps Best Film, Director, Screenplay – Update - Deadline". Deadline. 
  22. ^ a b c "Suffragette (2015) Awards". IMDB. 

Further reading[edit]

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