Entertainment & Arts

Mike Leigh tackles Peterloo Massacre

Mike Leigh Image copyright AP
Image caption The director was given a Bafta fellowship earlier this year

Director Mike Leigh is to make a film about the events of the 1819 Peterloo Massacre in Manchester.

Some 15 people were killed and hundreds injured when government troops charged a 60,000-strong crowd who were demanding political reform.

Leigh told Screen International the story had "personal resonance... as a native of Manchester and Salford".

The film is being touted as the Mr Turner director's biggest budget feature to date.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption An 1819 cartoon showing the 'Manchester Heroes', citizens of Manchester who having met at St Peter's Fields to demand the reform of parliament were brutally cut down by government troops

Mr Turner earned the British director four Oscar nominations, including one for cinematographer Dick Pope, with whom Leigh will be collaborating again on the new film.

Both Leigh and leading man Timothy Spall failed to pick up any hoped-for awards, but Mr Turner's commercial success has seen it take more than £6.4m in the UK alone.

Leigh hopes to shoot the Peterloo Massacre film in 2017, citing its "universal political significance".

The "historic event" is seen as a defining event in British political history, while its repercussions included the founding of the Guardian newspaper.

Leigh is currently rehearsing with the English National Opera. He will direct their production of Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance, which opens on 9 May.

The filmmaker previously directed 1999 film Topsy-Turvy about musical duo Gilbert and Sullivan.

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