Mike Leigh’s first film in more than three years is shaping up to be a marked change of pace for the celebrated English filmmaker.
Released early Thursday, the first official still from Leigh’s historical drama Peterloo — a dramatization based on the titular massacre — sets the stage for a grim turn of events, one that ultimately leaves roughly a dozen people dead on the streets of Manchester in 1819.
Starring Rory Kinnear, Christopher Eccleston, Maxine Peak, and David Bamber, Peterloo follows a band of protestors who stood up for parliamentary reform, calling for a greater range of voting rights in the wake of economic strife and famine at the end of the Napoleonic Wars. A demonstration organized by Manchester Patriotic Union reportedly had an attendance in excess of 60,000, and the British calvary ultimately charged the peacefully protesting crowd.
Peterloo marks Leigh’s fourth period drama, following 2014’s Mr. Turner, 2004’s Vera Drake, and 1999’s Topsy-Turvy. His contemporary-set works include 2008’s Happy-Go-Lucky, 2010’s Another Year, and 1996’s Secrets & Lies. He has been nominated for seven Oscars throughout his career, including five for his screenplays and two for directing.
Amazon Studios is financing worldwide rights to Peterloo, which will be released stateside sometime in 2018.