“No Man Shall Protect Us”: Crowdfunding a Suffrajitsu Documentary

I am here tonight in spite of armies of police.  I am here tonight and not a man is going to protect me, because this is a woman’s fight, and we are going to protect ourselves!  I challenge the government to re-arrest me!

  • Suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst

Crowdfunding now via Kickstarter, the documentary No Man Shall Protect Us tells the true story of the secret Bodyguard Society of martial arts-trained women who protected the radical suffragettes circa 1913/14.

The production will make use of rare archival media, narration and theatrical re-enactments, featuring actors playing Emmeline Pankhurst, Canadian Bodyguard leader Gert Harding and jiujitsu trainer Edith Garrud among other notables.

No Man Shall Protect Us will be co-produced by Bartitsu instructor Tony Wolf, the author of Edith Garrud: The Suffragette Who Knew Jujutsu (2008) and the graphic novel trilogy Suffrajitsu: Mrs. Pankhurst’s Amazons (2015).  Pending a successful funding campaign, production will begin in January of 2018; the completed documentary will later be made freely available online.

Watch this space for updates on No Man Shall Protect Us!

A Memoir of the Production of “Bartitsu: The Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes”

By Tony Wolf

My friend Ran Braun, who is a fight choreographer and also a prominent stage director of operas in Europe, first proposed the idea of a Bartitsu documentary in early 2009.  We developed some concepts via email, but then both became busy with other projects.

In August of that year, Ran organized a three week Bartitsu and stage combat seminar tour for me in Italy.  I arrived at the first venue, which was a brand new sports center in the middle of Rome, and was surprised to meet a professional film crew there along with the students.

Tony Wolf (right) demonstrates a Vigny stick fighting “guard by distance” during the Rome seminar.

An opportunity had suddenly come up, virtually while I was in transit, and Ran had contacted some cultural associations and production companies including the Digital Room, Cletarte and Broken Art.  They offered the basic technical and logistical means to start producing a documentary about Bartitsu, but because it had all happened so quickly, we didn’t have a script nor even a storyboard prepared.

Ran Braun and Rocco M. Franco re-enact a private Bartitsu lesson circa 1900 in this sequence filmed at the Palazzo delle Clarisse in Amantea, Italy.

Without a script, everything was ad hoc; we started shooting sequences that we could organise in our downtime during the seminar tour, brainstorming and improvising shoots at various exotic locations.  As the de facto on-camera host – which was not a role I would have chosen for myself, under normal circumstances – I remember standing on a balcony of the Palazzo delle Clarisse overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea, facing the camera and having to begin a monologue with the generic segue “… and so we find ourselves here …”, trusting that there would, eventually, be a script to justify the transition.

A spectacular location shoot in Amantea.

I also recall wandering through the streets of Amantea one warm evening, gazing up at the ancient castles on the hills and trying to figure out how to tie location shoots in this beautiful Italian seaside resort in to our then-scriptless documentary about an obscure Victorian English martial art.  I realised that the best link was actually the Italian concept of rievocazion; the artistic revival of cultural heritage.  That realisation inspired one of the major themes of the documentary.

Simultaneously, I realised that I was going to have to return to Europe in the near future.

A still from an animatic of Yukio Tani (left) throwing an English wrestler.

The next few months were a blur of activity, because at that stage we were hoping to release the documentary in late December to coincide with Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes movie.  I returned to the USA for about two weeks, wrote a script, bought video equipment and started organizing second-unit shoots and interviews, re-enactments, image archives, animations, etc.

The project quickly generated a lot of buzz, and many people were very generous with their time and talents. Second-unit location shoots were arranged in the UK and USA, including both martial arts demonstrations and interviews with luminaries such as speculative fiction author Neal Stephenson and mystery writer Will Thomas, both of whom were also Bartitsu enthusiasts.  Ran arranged the musical score with input from his colleagues, and we were also given permission to use instrumental tracks by the famed steampunk band Abney Park.

I then flew back to Europe and traveled with Ran to Meiringen in the Swiss Alps for a shoot at the famous Reichenbach Falls, where Holmes used his “baritsu” against Moriarty. I’d never driven through the Alps before – it’s a shattering, vertiginous landscape, with valleys full of massive boulders that have rolled down off the mountains.

We booked in to a Meiringen hotel late in the evening and were woken the next morning by somone in the vicinity practicing his yodeling – welcome to Switzerland!   We then figured out how to get up to the Reichenbach Falls, which involves riding a terrific Victorian-era cable car a long way up one of the mountains. The falls are actually a series of cascades, with the biggest one – where Holmes grappled with Moriarty – perhaps half-way up the heavily-forested slopes.

We arrived at the cable car station, which offered a nice view, but it was at that point that we discovered that a local hydroelectric power company was channelling water from the river that feeds the falls. Apparently they regularly do this at at certain times of the year, including, unfortunately, when we were there. So, yes, it was a large waterfall, but it was pretty far from the roaring, boiling chasm that Dr. Watson had so vividly described.

We had a long hike up, over and around the waterfall until we arrived at the “baritsu spot”, where Holmes and Moriarty (notionally) fought to the death.  It’s at the end of a narrow path cut into the cliff face on the opposite side from the cable car station. Apparently the path used to extend almost within touching distance of the actual waterfall, but landslides have changed the topography over the past hundred-odd years. We shot our intro sequence there, then made our way back down the mountain into Meiringen township.

The town makes the most of its Sherlock Holmes connection – they have a great little Holmes museum and a fine bronze statue of the Great Detective. We spent the rest of the day doing pickup shots of Holmes-related Meiringen sights and scenic shots of the mountains.

The next day I flew to London to film further location shoots and interviews. The exterior shots in London were all “guerilla style”, of course, which was a great test of nerve and ingenuity. I visited the Holmes Museum in Baker Street, where an elderly actor playing Doctor Watson regaled me with an impressive in-character summary of the Final Problem plot. I wish we could have used part of that speech in the documentary.

Guerilla film-making: Tony Wolf addresses the camera in London.

We managed some quick “talking head” presentations in front of #67 Shaftesbury Avenue, where the original Bartitsu Club had been headquartered. The building now houses the Shaftesbury Best Western Hotel, but it’s much the same as it was back in Barton-Wright’s day, having been narrowly missed by a German bomb during the Second World War. Additional shoots took place at locations including the exterior of the Surbiton flat where Barton-Wright had spent his final years, and – soberingly – at Surrey’s Kingston Cemetery, where Barton-Wright was interred in an un-marked “pauper’s grave”.  Sadly, because it is impossible to pinpoint exactly where an individual is buried in one of these communal plots, local ordinances do not allow memorial markers to be placed there, so instead I laid a small bouquet of white flowers at the base of a nearby tree.

Then I took a train to the Northern English village of Haltwhistle, near the Scottish border, to record some additional interviews and, during a free afternoon, navigate through a wandering herd of cattle en route to walking along a section of Hadrian’s Wall.

After I returned to the US, however, it quickly became obvious that, even given the terrific run of enthusiasm and luck that carried us through that initial production period, there was simply no way we could produce the entire documentary before Christmas.  We were, however, able to develop a successful trailer for the project:

Early and mid-2010 were marked by a series of false starts and technical problems.  These issues are typical of most media projects, but they were compounded by the fact that we were producing an independent multi-media documentary, staffed entirely by volunteers spread between several countries. There would be intense bursts of activity – including filming a re-enactment of a circa 1914 suffragette jiujitsu training session – followed by long delays as DVD packages of raw footage went missing in transit, personnel left the project, etc.

During post-production my father, Michael, and wife, Kathrynne – who were both professional actors and voiceover specialists – were prevailed upon to record in-character narration for the documentary, all taken verbatim from speeches and articles written during the heyday of the Bartitsu Club.  Kat provided the voice of Mary Nugent, the Edwardian-era journalist whose article “Barton-Wright and His Japanese Wrestlers” offered shrewd insight into E.W. Barton-Wright’s character.  My father performed the voices of Barton-Wright, Dr. John Watson, an anonymous c1900 newspaper reporter and Captain Alfred Hutton, giving each of them different accents and delivery styles – a significant feat of vocal gymnastics!

We regained out momentum in September. In Rome, our colleagues and co-producers at Broken Art, Paolo Paparella and Angelica Pedatella, collaborated with editor Emanuele Pisasale during post-production, and there was a very great deal of communication back and forth between Italy and the USA. Meanwhile, I had arranged an art contest that produced some lovely cover art for the DVD, and a publishing deal with the Freelance Academy Press, while continuing to gather seminar footage from the US and Italy to represent the Bartitsu revival.

Co-producer/director Ran Braun checks camera angles while filming a Bartitsu stick fighting demonstration in Italy.

The documentary DVD finally launched in March of 2011. It gathered some great reviews, which were very gratifying to those of us who had been working so long and hard behind the scenes. With permission of the producers, Bartitsu: The Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes has subsequently been publicly screened at a number of libraries, Western martial arts conferences and similar events. It is available on DVD from the Freelance Academy Press.

Un breve documental en español sobre Bartitsu

Bartitsu el arte marcial del Detective Sherlock Holmes Creado por Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, interpretado por Robert Downey Jr en el 2009, experto en el arte marcial Bartitsu. El actor, Robert Downey Jr, practico Wing Chun, pero el personaje Sherlock Holmes es experto en Bartitsu. Arte Marcial de origen europeo y practicado por la clase alta es reconocido por ser el sistema de defensa personal utilizado por Sherlock Holmes en sus enfrentamientos de la época.

* Incorporating video demonstrations from the Academie Duello and the Bartitsu Club of New York City.

BBC “Timeshift” documentary on the history of the martial arts in Great Britain

The first twelve minutes of this 2013 BBC documentary focus on Bartitsu and the use of jiujitsu by the radical suffragettes, featuring demonstrations by James Marwood and George Stokoe and interviews with Tony Wolf and Emelyne Godfrey.

Bartitsu gift ideas

The Bartitsu Compendium, Volume 1: History and the Canonical Syllabus (2005) and The Bartitsu Compendium Volume II: Antagonistics (2008)

Compiled by members of the Bartitsu Society, volumes 1 and 2 of the Bartitsu Compendium are available in print from Lulu.com.

Volume I collates most of the canonical Bartitsu material and features over two hundred and seventy pages of original essays, rare vintage reprints and never-before-seen translations, illustrated with hundreds of fascinating photographs and sketches.

Volume II provides resources towards continuing Barton-Wright’s martial arts experiments. It combines extensive excerpts from fifteen classic Edwardian-era self defence manuals, including well over four hundred illustrations, plus a collection of long-forgotten newspaper and magazine articles on Bartitsu exhibitions and contests; new, original articles on Bartitsu history and training; a complete course of Edwardian-era “physical culture” exercises; personality profiles, essays and more besides.

Bartitsu: The Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes documentary (2011)

At the end of the Victorian era, E. W. Barton-Wright combined jiujitsu, kickboxing, and stick fighting into the “Gentlemanly Art of Self Defence” known as Bartitsu. After Barton-Wright’s School of Arms mysteriously closed in 1902, Bartitsu was almost forgotten save for a famous, cryptic reference in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventure of the Empty House.

In this fascinating 54-minute documentary shot in Switzerland, Italy, the UK and the USA, host Tony Wolf reveals the history, rediscovery and revival of Barton-Wright’s pioneering mixed martial art.

Bartitsu: The Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes is available from the Freelance Academy Press.

Suffrajitsu: Mrs. Pankhurst’s Amazons graphic novel trilogy (2015)

London, 1914: The leaders of the radical women’s rights movement are fugitives from the law. Their last line of defense is the secret society of “Amazons”: women trained in the martial art of bartitsu and sworn to defend their leaders from arrest and assault.

After a series of daring escapes and battles with the police, the stakes rise dramatically when the Amazons are forced into a deadly game of cat and mouse against an aristocratic, utopian cult…

The Suffrajitsu graphic novel trilogy is available as e-books from Amazon and comiXology – we strongly recommend comiXology’s Guided View system for a fluid, intuitive online reading experience – as well as in print form as part of the Blood and Honor anthology.

A series of four prose short stories and novellas set in the world of Suffrajitsu are also available, via Amazons’ Kindle Worlds system.

The Bootfighters Catalogue (canne Vigny and defence dans la rue instructional videos)

Australian instructor Craig Gemeiner’s set of canne Vigny and defence dans la rue DVDs are recommended by many members of the Bartitsu Society.

Bartitsu sparring cane from Purpleheart Armory

Widely used by members of the Bartitsu Society, these rattan training canes are recommended for both drills and sparring applications.

The BlackSwift Raven self-defence walking stick

Combining a stylish, low-profile appearance with superb dexterity and great strength, the BlackSwift Raven is especially recommended as a “carry” cane for self-defence purposes.

2013: the Bartitsu year in review

Bartitsu 2013 montage

Welcome to our traditional annual review of all things Bartitsuvian!

This year saw a continuation of the boom in new Bartitsu clubs and study groups that began in 2011, due in a large part to the huge success of the Sherlock Holmes movies and the new Sherlock TV series from the BBC. 2013 also saw an unprecedented level of mainstream exposure for both E.W. Barton-Wright’s “New Art of Self Defence” and for the “jujitsuffragette” bodyguards of 1913/14, including newspaper, television and online media and even graphic novels and video games.

Please note that, in general, the events recorded here are those for which we received detailed reports after the fact, as opposed to those for which we only received announcements.

January

The Canadian InnerSPACE TV show features a Bartitsu demo in celebration of the release of author Adrienne Kress’ book The Friday Society. Instructor Mark Donnelly is featured on the Mansome series of short web documentaries and Roberto Munter’s extensive series of Bartitsu articles in the Italian language premieres online.

February

The major BBC documentary Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting: The Rise of the Martial Arts in Britain features a 13-minute section on Bartitsu and the jujitsuffragette phenomenon, including interviews with instructor Tony Wolf and historian Emelyne Godfrey and demonstrations by instructors James Marwood and George Stokoe.

March

We feature an exclusive interview with director and film theorist Noel Burch, the auteur of the 1982 documentary The Year of the Bodyguard, as well as a detailed, illustrated summary of the documentary itself. We also unearth a historically significant 1912 Pathe Company film featuring jujitsu demonstrations. The Bartitsu Club of New York City is featured on the Edge of America series, Jujitsuffragette trainer Edith Garrud is “officially” named the “Badass of the Week” and Detective Inspector Archibald Brock of the popular Grandville graphic novel series is revealed as a Bartitsu enthusiast.

April

Edith Garrud is honoured with a commemorative “portrait sculpture” and the Bartitsu Club of New York City’s lecture/demonstration at the Observatory arts and events space in Brooklyn is recorded in a short video memoir. Bartitsu.org runs a series of articles on newly-discovered c1900 self defence topics including Bowie knife fighting(1890), women’s self-defence in Boston (1904), E.W. Barton-Wright vs. the Georgia Magnet (1895-1899) and the Latson Method of Self Defence (1906-1911). We also discover what may be the only three surviving photographs of jujitsuffragettes in training.

May

Mark Donnelly and the Bartitsu Club of New York City are featured in both print and video articles by the Wall Street Journal and in Time Online. The Victorian-themed Captain Alfred Hutton Lounge is officially opened at the Forteza Fitness and Martial Arts studio, home of the Bartitsu Club of Chicago. Announcement of Mrs. Pankhurst’s Amazons, a graphic novel trilogy by Tony Wolf showcasing both Bartitsu and the jujitsuffragettes. A Harrisburg, PA newspaper runs a feature on Bartitsu training at the Keystone Academy of Dueling. Bartitsu seminars take place in Niwot, Colorado and in New York City.

June

Bartitsu in Sunderland, UK is featured in video and print media and a new course in announced via the Idler Academy (London). A newly-discovered 1913 article reveals that electrical stun-gloves were once proposed as a self-defence and restraint tool for Philadelphia police officers.

July

Bartitsu action scenes are extensively featured in the Book of Shadows web-comic and both Bartitsu and the jujitsuffragettes are showcased in an article for FIGHT! Magazine.   A Victorian Martial Arts Symposium is held at the Gear Con 2013 steampunk gathering in Portland, Oregon, featuring instructors David McCormick, Tom Badillo and Jeff Richardson. Instructor William Trumpler presents a seminar for the Cowford Steampunk Society. We discover records of one of the very last c1900 Bartitsu exhibitions, which took place in Nottingham during March of 1902.

August

We interview Kathrynne Wolf, auteur of the Scarlet Line action/drama web-series, which posits a secret survival of the jujitsuffragette Bodyguard tradition beyond WW1 and into the present day. Mark Donnelly offers a Bartitsu intensive in Merchantville, New Jersey. The character “Flint” in the popular online video game Urban Rivals is a Bartitsu-fighting flamingo, for some reason. We look at the life and career of Alice Clement, a jujitsu-trained detective and one of the first female members of the Chicago police department. Instructor Stefan Dieke is featured in a Bartitsu article for the German Schwert & Klinge magazine.

September

The Bartitsu Club of New York City is featured in an article by the Epoch Times and Kathrynne Wolf’s The Scarlet Line is the subject of an interview with the Bad Reputation web magazine.

We feature an article on the importance of sparring and pressure testing in Bartitsu training and a detailed report on the third annual Bartitsu School of Arms and Physical Culture international conference/seminar event, which took place at Beamish Museum near Newcastle, UK. Mark Donnelly offers a Bartitsu intensive for the Malta Historical Fencing Association and James Marwood is interviewed by The Perfect Gentleman.

October

Seminars and/or new ongoing courses are offered by the newly-formed Manchester Bartitsu Club, the Bartitsu Club of New York City and the Idler Academy in London. The magazines His Vintage Life and Tweed both feature Bartitsu articles, the latter showcasing the Bartitsu Club: Isle of Wight. Video and guidelines for hard-contact sparring are offered by the Bartitsu Club of Chicago and BWAHAHAHA (the Barton-Wright/Alfred Hutton Alliance for Historically Accurate Hoplology and Antagonistics) performs an exhibition at the 2013 Sherlock Seattle Convention.

November

Mrs. Pankhurst’s Amazons is previewed at the Jet City Comics Show in Tacoma, Washington. Instructor James Garvey of the Idler Club is featured in UK media, including an appearance on the Sunday Brunch show and a feature article in The Libertine. Tony Wolf lectures on Bartitsu history for the Criterion Bar Association of Chicago and is interviewed, along with Los Angeles Bartitsu Club instructor Matt Franta , for Catherine Townsend’s article on Bartitsu for The Atlantic Magazine. We feature an English translation of a memoir by Russian fight choreographer Nikolay Vaschilin on his staging of the climactic Holmes/Moriarty “baritsu” battle for the 1980 Russian TV show The Deadly Combat, a close adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventure of the Final Problem.

December

We feature an exclusive interview with author Tony Wolf regarding the inspirations behind the Mrs. Pankhurst’s Amazons graphic novel series, in which Bartitsu plays a key role.

“Bartitsu: the Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes” documentary

Bartitsu: the Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes is the first and only feature documentary on Bartitsu, the “gentlemanly art of self defence”.

At the end of the Victorian era, E.W. Barton-Wright founded Bartitsu as a pioneering “mixed martial art” combining jiujitsu, kickboxing and self defence with a walking stick. It was also the means by which Sherlock Holmes was said to have defeated his arch-nemesis, the evil Professor Moriarty, in their famous battle at Reichenbach Waterfall.

This groundbreaking documentary was shot on location in Italy, Switzerland, England and the USA. Through numerous interviews, animations, re-enactment sequences, rare archival film footage and historical images, it explores the history, rediscovery and modern revival of Bartitsu.

Reviews

(…) reveals an exciting world of Victorian ruffians, garroting panics, militant suffragettes, and physical culture, as well as the colorful life of Bartitsu’s founder Edward Barton-Wright … music by the steampunk band Abney Park creates a moody atmosphere of Victorian danger, excitement, and heroics. Through interviews, re-enactment, archival images, and contemporary footage of neo-Bartitsu students, the “lost” martial art is brought to life.

– Rachel Klingberg

Here’s the problem – what to do when you love a good punch up, but public brawling is incompatible with your image as an amenable, if damp-stained, man of letters? The answer is “Bartitsu,” a nineteenth-century martial art developed specifically to transform the upright classes into killing machines, and whose unusual history has been revealed in an excellent new documentary …

– Andrew McConnell Stott

Sleek and engaging … fascinating … a superbly watchable piece of martial arts history …

Bullshido.net martial arts movie reviews

Further information/how to order

Please visit the Freelance Academy Press website to view a photo gallery, read an article about Bartitsu and the documentary production, and to place your DVD order.

Copies of the DVD may also be ordered from Amazon.com.

An interview with “Year of the Bodyguard” director Noel Burch

Our sincere thanks to Noel Burch, who agreed to answer some questions pertaining to his 1982 television docudrama “The Year of the Bodyguard”.


Noel Burch

TW: Can you describe your interest in women’s self defence circa 1900?

NB: I think I was first excited by the idea of women learning jiu-jitsu in the West at the beginning of the twentieth century when reading Kafka’s Amerika, in which Karl is humiliated by a young American woman with the then still mysterious art of jiu-jitsu
– and of course, since then I have understood that Kafka too was a masochist.

Many years later I came across a cover of Sandow’s Magazine where a “Mrs. Garrud throws her Japanese teacher”. I’m not sure how I found out about the Bodyguard, but it was still later, I think …

For years I had been a militant male feminist, and when I finally understood about the role of the Bodyguard in the suffragette movement, and had a privileged contact with Allan Fountain’s 11th Hour (documentary series) slot at Channel Four, I decided this was a good “politically correct” subject to propose, dealing as it did with women’s violence, and which would also fit in with my personal passion … which is actually alluded to in the film itself, on the demand of certain members of what was an almost exclusively female crew, including Debbie Kermode, daughter of Frank and a very hip feminist (she comes into the shot where I am challenged).

TW: How did you go about researching Year of the Bodyguard?

NB: As I recall, I spent a good deal of time in a library in Hackney devoted to the suffragette movement. My main source was that book by Antonia Raeburn, which was, I believe, devoted to Edith Garrud and which several sequences in the film are copied from, including the pseudo-TV interview with “Edith Garrud” herself.

The hardest part was digging up and paying for the Blondie comic strip which opens the film and which had revealed my passion to myself at the age of 7.

TW: Can you describe the artistic/political choices you made in presenting the Bodyguard story for a television audience?

NB: I wasn’t very interested in the TV audience, which may explain certain errors in the film, such as the Bernard Shaw Androcles excerpt, shot in an overly long shot to evoke the early cinema framing. The whole film was made as if I were working for the cinema.

The film reflects a long-term concern I had had with the hybrid documentary, involving different materials, different styles, etc. And involving here the mixing of periods – the TV interviews with Chesterton and with a bobby beaten by the women, etc. This was meant to be a pedagogical “de-alienating” form in those days, when we believed the classical film-language was “bourgeois”. I personally was into the forms of the early cinema as proto-avant-garde practice. I was writing a book about the emergence of film language. Today, I have problems with that avant-garde crap, but at the time, many of us working for Channel 4 were into that.

TW: I was wondering about the scene in which an actor playing a psychiatrist, in modern dress, is commenting on the psychological state of the suffragettes as masochists and martyrs. Was that monologue based on a published report, or was it written for the docudrama?

NB: The psychiatrist scene, I wrote myself, possibly basing it on bits from the papers at the time, but more generally on a type of discourse we on the left all know from the dominant schools of analysis and therapy, tending to reduce political commitment to the individual psyche. Marcuse called it “neo-Freudian revisionism.”

TW: That seems apt. Changing tack, do you remember who served as your fight choreographer or martial arts advisor?

NB: I had no martial arts advisor. I was the one who brought the actress some books and advice. I’ve been poring over (self defence) manuals for sixty years and I have a vast collection. She was the one who choreographed the demonstrations. She was both an aspiring actress and a teacher of women’s self-defence, and her physique vaguely resembled that of Edith Garrud; those were the reasons she was chosen.

TW: What was the public response to the docudrama?

NB: I haven’t the slightest idea; does one ever know? The critics (but they are not the public!) were few and far between; not necessarily hostile, but nobody was very enthusiastic.

TW: How about individual reactions?

NB: I remember one reaction by a former student of mine at the RCA, at the time a promising independent director but who now does routine work for the BBC. He felt that the scene where the bobby comes down to the gym where the women have just hidden their street-clothes under the tatami (mats) should have been filmed from the point of view of the police; it would have been more suspenseful, he thought. I tried to explain that I was on the side of the women, that the film was on the side of the women, that such a view-point would have been out of the question. He didn’t understand and, thirty year later, I think I understand why …

TW: I believe that the Suffragette Bodyguard was essentially fighting battles at two levels; the practicalities of street-fighting and evading the police, and as symbols of feminist militancy in the propaganda war against the Asquith government. Do you have any thoughts on that subject?

NB: I really don’t know any more about the Bodyguard’s activities than you do, probably less, though your remark seems quite credible. But I should point out that when the film was shown to some committee at the BFI Production board at the time I was submitting a different project to this august body (which was turned down), some feminist historian, whose name I do not remember, was reported to have said “He doesn’t understand anything about the Bodyguard” or words to that effect. At the time I suspected this woman was simply picking up on the perverse underpinning of the film.

TW: Finally, are there any other anecdotes from the production that you’d like to share?

NB: Well, after we had spent a whole day shooting that single long take where the women who have just smashed all the windows on Oxford Street take refuge in Mrs. Garrud’s studio (an authentic anecdote, drawn from Antonia Raeburn’s book), I was so happy to have achieved what was a kind of tour de force (a seven minute take, I think), that I failed to go thank that bunch of actresses who had been knocking themselves out all day for “my film” and they were complaining in the dressing room. My producer bawled me out and I tried to make amends.

Also, during the casting, there was one very beautiful actress who was quite skilled but whose agent wouldn’t let her be in the film because her role wasn’t important enough.

Also, and this is the best, the actor who plays the policeman on whom “Mrs. Garrud” does her demonstration at my reconstruction of the women’s festival, tried to get more money afterwards because he hadn’t been warned that he would be “hurt” (which he wasn’t at all, of course, it was just machismo … he didn’t like being thrown around by a woman!)