The original media-disruptors
Emily Davison’s protest, filmed by the Topical Budget newsreel cameras (1913).
1 min 45 sec extract
2 min 9 sec
Years before Davison’s death, the portrayal of women’s suffrage on film was one of ridicule, typified by this 1899 film featuring men in drag.
1 min 8 sec
Trafalgar Square, London, 1910. The strategy worked, shifting the debate away from a simplistic battle of the sexes. Instead, power, politics and equality became the focus.
The battle-axe wife remains a staple of comedy, but this 1913 film has a twist, and shows that change was already in the air.
Women of this era had greater expectations than their grandmothers.
7 min 11 sec
Suffragettes played a vital role during the First World War, and they did not wait for men to employ them.
They funded and ran field hospitals, crewed munitions factories and ensured continued recognition for the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS).
A vast procession of women, headed by Mrs Pankhurst, march through London in 1915 to show the minister of munitions their willingness to mobilise women’s ‘brains and energy’ for war service.
1 min 30 sec
By 1917, the Suffragettes had reframed the debate. Now, women could contemplate not only voting but also achieving representation in government.
In 1918, the vote was given to women over the age of 30 who met certain qualifications. That year, the first woman MP was elected to the House of Commons.
37 sec extract from ‘All the Winners’ - And the Losers! (1923)
In 1928, all women over the age of 21 in the United Kingdom were given the vote.
The Suffragettes’ achievements were monumental and their story still resonates.
The movement is the subject of Suffragette, backed by the BFI Film Fund and screening as the opening film of the 2015 BFI London Film Festival.
Films from the BFI National Archive.
Visit BFI Player for 1,000s of beautifully preserved films, capturing 120 years of Britain on film.
The archive programme Make More Noise! Suffragettes in Film screens at the BFI London Film Festival and around the UK from October.
Slide 4 The Derby (1913)
Slide 5 Miss Davison’s Funeral (1913)
Slide 6 Women’s Rights (1899)
Slide 9 London. Suffragette Riots at Westminster (1910)
Slide 13 Milling the Militants; A Comical Absurdity (1913)
Slide 14 The New Amazon (1915)
Slide 15 Women’s March through London (1915)
Slide 16 Will There Be Women MPs? (1917)
Slide 17 ‘All the Winners’ - And the Losers! (1923)