This essay offers a close examination of director Mike Leigh's Peterloo, which recounts the struggle for parliamentary reform in Great Britain between the battle of Waterloo and the Peterloo massacre of 1819. Peterloo succeeds, the essay contends, because of Leigh's approach to the craft of filmmaking. If we take Peterloo on its own terms, that is, with an understanding of the unique form of creative labor that went into it, we get a better sense of what we can learn from it, about class politics, about power, about the complicated and difficult formation of democratic movements such as that which brought those many thousands to St. Peter's Field in 1819.

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