Remember, remember the Fifth of November/Gunpowder, Treason, and Plot/I see no reason/Why gunpowder treason/Should ever be forgot. Those immortal lines commemorate the British tradition of remembering an attempted attack on Parliament with an annual celebration of bonfires and fireworks. In solidarity with our friends across the pond consider commemorating the occasion by watching one of the following.
Gunpowder, Treason, and Plot (2004) This BBC mini-series directed by Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (The Escapist, Hideous Kinky) is loosely based on the lives of Mary Queen of Scots (French actress Clemence Poesy of In Bruges, and War and Peace) and her son James VI of Scotland (the one and only Robert Carlyle of Trainspotting, The Fully Monty, and Once Upon A Time. Catherine McCormack of Braveheart, Dangerous Beauty, and Shadow of the Vampire plays Elizabeth I and a young Michael Fassbender made one of his earliest appearances in the role of Guy Fawkes himself.
The Gunpowder Plot: Exploding the Legend (2005) This television series hosted by Richard Hammond and designed to coincide with the 400th year anniversary of the plot actually recreates elements of the Gunpowder Plot itself. The Houses of Parliament are reconstructed as they were in 1605, using period methods whenever possible. The “Houses” were then stocked with mannequins representing, commoners, nobles, and of course the King. Then they actually blow it up using the gunpowder materials in the original plot to see how the plan would have worked. The next part of the program has Hammond going into a counterfactual speculation of the effect on British history had the plot succeeded.
V for Vendetta (2006) This dystopian political thriller directed by James McTeigue (The Raven, Sense8) and was written by the Wachowski siblings (The Matrix, Cloud Atlas, Sense8). Based on the Alan Moore limited comic series it imagines an alternative future where Great Britain has been taken over by a neo-Fascist regime. Hugo Weaving (Lord of the Rings, The Matrix) is spellbinding as mysterious anarchist V who wears a Guy Fawkes mask and seeks to ignite a revolution against the current regime that will begin with his plans to blow up Parliament on Guy Fawkes Day the following year. V enlists the unwitting Evey (young Natalie Portman) to his cause all the meanwhile being investigated by Detective Finch (Stephen Rea). You also get memorable turns by John Hurt, Stephen Fry, and Rupert Graves among many others and some great use of the 1812 overture.
Attack the Block (2011) This delightful sci-fi, comedy, horror adventure film was written and directed by Joe Cornish (Hot Fuzz, Ant Man.) Starring John Boyega (Finn from Star Wars), Jodie Whittaker (Broadchurch) and Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead) it takes place in a South London council estate. On Guy Fawkes night a young local street gang suddenly have to defend themselves from an alien invasion. Fortunately the young gang members in question turn out to be very tough and very resourceful indeed. It became a massive cult hit with a 90% fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes.
Gunpowder 5/11: The Greatest Terror Plot (2014) Adam Kemp (Churchill’s First World War) wrote, directed, and produced this dramatization using the actual words of Thomas Wintour (Jamie Thomas King of The Tudors, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) Guy Fawkes (Jamie MacLachlan of Maleficent and EastEnders) and other interrogators. It tells of the events from Wintour’s recruitment of Guy Fawkes and his brother to their capture and final days.
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