Thursday, January 21, 2016


Bleak, Gruesome, Dickensian but Beautiful


Birmingham 1919. Great Britain is just coming out of the First World War’s butchery and slaughter and has to face three main problems: the rebellion or upheaval in Ireland, the discontentment of the people after the war and their leaning towards Marxism, communism and a violent revolution. Finally all kinds of trafficking people who try to build businesses on the basis of some more or less, rather more than less, criminal activities with the rivalry between or among gangs and families, and among these gangs and families there are the gypsies. A super cop is moved from Ireland to Birmingham to clean up the plate after an important shipment of weapons and ammunitions were stolen.

The series describe the bleak and gruesome living conditions of the working class and their direct members who organize the various services like the circulation of alcohol and tobacco, the various fights in illegal or irregular boxing rings, the betting on horses and other things with bookmakers. The cops are complacent, very corrupted or let’s say blind and they want some kind of peaceful service even if violence is everywhere around. The new cop sent by London is not exactly what they would call a pacifying element.

The series is well done, extremely well acted and quite suspenseful. It shows how among the families who exploit the bleak situation there are rivalries that are warlike more than fair play. Everything is good to get what the others have, to increase your territory and your influence by getting rid of others, of competitors. Competition in other words is always to the death.

There is in other words no ethics anywhere and even the communists who are self-sacrificing are not really better because their objective is to force society in one direction rather than the other by using the discontentment of many to turn them into their most of the time unarmed infantry.

The series gives some depth to the plot by having a female operative from Ireland brought into Birmingham and the territory of one family, the Shelby’s, and both the new cop (quite older than her) and the main young brother of the Shelby’s fall in love with her. She is the traitor among the Shelby’s and she in fact betrays both the cop who she does not like at all though or because he is her superior officer and the young Thomas Shelby since she manages to reveal to the cop where the stolen weapons are, bringing the two main gangs to a confrontation that could have been a blood bath, and that was the very calculation of the cop. Could have been and was not because of some unforeseen development.

The Irish problem is never really taken into any deep consideration. It is only a circumstantial though dangerous element that is in no way either justified or exposed. It is a looming drama behind the scene hardly visible on the stage. The Irish Republican Army does not strut around in plain daylight in Birmingham.

Quite interesting altogether, even if it is maybe slightly bleaker than what it was in reality. But who really knows or remembers?


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