This 21 minute short film starts with 20 year old Melanie York raising the ghost of Emily Wilding Davison by playing recordings of old speeches against women’s sufferage, and once the film ends, over the credits we hear the voice of our current prime minister goading and humiliating two different women MP’s. In 100 years, little has changed. The film explores the roles and choices recommended for women by society, then and now. Melanie is a politics and philosophy student, and has all the fire and spirit of EWD. She is, it becomes clear, EWD all over again, but she has different ideas about how best to live and fight for what she believes in.
This is for anyone who just wants to know what’s in the film but can’t afford the time to watch it.
Politics and Philosophy student Melanie York visits the grave of Emily Wilding Davison and raises her ghost by playing the sound of speeches from Emily’s era that decry the idea of women having the vote.
The cemetery’s care-taker, Katherine, is curious about what she’s up to and interrupts the proceedings, which kicks off a three cornered conversation about the history of the suffragettes, the war, the roles that society imposes on women, the value of protest and the problem with stories taking the shape the zeitgeist demands of them in spite of what might be true. Melanie is pregnant and speaks to Emily as though Emily were not her “sister” but her daughter.
The conversation ends when Emily is antagonised and enraged to the point where she re-lives the moment she is run down by the King’s horse. Dying all over again, she disappears. Melanie reveals that she’ll be naming her daughter Emily, and time passes in the graveyard, turning from cherry-blossomed spring to winter – when Melanie returns with her new baby to visit the grave again, and a kind of reconciliation. Emily is delighted that life goes on, and Melanie “crosses her heart” in a gesture which is a promise always to vote.
Then Melanie wakes from the day-dream that it all is. She’s returning a book about the life and death of Emily Wilding Davison to the university library, and Katherine is the librarian.
“Inspirational?”, asks Katherine
“Thought provoking…” says Melanie “I might take up riding lessons.”
Melanie plans to fight to win – not to be nobly sacrificed and have others mould her story without her input.
As the credits roll, we hear David Cameron speaking in the commons, bullying two different women MP’s in a modern day echo of the speeches the film starts with – patronising and dismissive of women. Much has changed, but then, much has stayed the same.