I remember sometime in the 1977/8 there was a showing of Ken Loach’s Days of Hope … it was at Kelvin Grove teachers college (now QUT). I sat there engrossed by the content of the series that mapped struggles against conscription in Britain during World War I, following the characters lives right up until the the 1926 General Strike.
During the showing they had a Q & A. Naturally, as an activist, I was expecting people to express views on the struggle depicted before our eyes, the objections of the pacifists against war, the tactics employed, the brutal response by the Tories, the Church and the Military.
Instead, the audience wanted to talk about the cinematography, the acting, the artistic merit of the film, anything but the content … the organiser seemed unperturbed.
Days of Hope is a TV series and so quite long so, in the end, my friend and I just had to leave … we wanted to see more of the film but commentary from the audience (encouraged by the organiser) just went on and on …
It was very disappointing to see a great film series subjected to such banal critique … but especially so because there were direct parallels between the political and industrial struggles of the 1910s and ’20s and the 1970s (and now), … particularly in the treatment of the anti-war movement, the 1926 General Strike and the industrial struggle.
One positive thing was … some years later LeftPress put on Days of Hope one weekend and the people who showed up talked about the content of the film … and here is “Episode One: 1916” of Ken Loach’s great series:
Days of Hope (BBC, 1975) was Ken Loach’s first historical piece and, although tracing events fifty or more years previous, it was strongly informed by the contemporary situation of the 1970s. Parallels can be drawn between the political and industrial struggles of the 1910s and ’20s and the 1970s, particularly in the treatment of the 1926 General Strike and the industrial unrest.
“Episode One: 1916” introduces viewers to the four main family protagonists. Pacifist Christian socialist Philip Hargreaves (Nikolas Simmonds) has married into a Yorkshire farming family. While his wife Sarah (Pam Brighton) supports him, other members of the Matthews family are either hostile or apathetic. Despite being warned about the realities of war by a soldier on leave, Ben Matthews (Paul Copley) enlists while Philip is arrested as a conscientious objector and condemned to death on the front-line after other coercive measures (mentioned above) fail. Only a last minute reprieve saves him from execution. The episode concludes with Ben in Ireland witnessing national resilience against the British invaders. – from Versailles1919’s channel