After such a tumultuous few weeks in British history, both from a political and sporting perspective, we would do well to reflect upon a salient lesson from our conquerors and friends in the north, Iceland.
It was there that in 2008 the Icelandic people reacted and rose as one to the global economic crisis with widespread protest and direct action, resulting in a movement that was christened “The Pots and Pans Revolution”. Made in response to the mainstream media’s shameful silence on these events, Danny Mitchell’s Reykjavík Rising charts the three months of daily uprisings that led to the defeat of the right-wing government in early 2009, only to be later thwarted and ultimately defeated by the entrenched systems of power.
The film primarily consists of interviews with a number of activists, all of whom give their opinions and reflections on the unfolding events. It is a fascinating story all the more remarkable for the fact that this inspiring story was hardly reported or seen on television. If one doubted the veracity of ‘the propaganda model’ as propounded by Noam Chomsky and Edward Herrmann in their seminal book Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media then here is a perfect example. This was a story that did not fit the mainstream narrative. A democratic, peaceful revolution by the people, for the people, intent on rewriting their own social contract, in an attempt to draw up a new constitution.
Reykjavík Rising is a thoughtful, interesting and sober watch, which mercifully refrains from any bombastic, declamatory soundtrack to try and direct our emotions. It is a documentary which is continually asking questions and is never frightened of interrogating the decisions and forms the revolution took. Indeed, as the protagonists speak of their experiences the viewer gets the impression of people who have learnt a valuable lesson in their noble attempt at speaking truth to power.
Bertolt Brecht once wrote that there are three stages in life. There is defeat and there is new action and there is the space between the two. What happens in that space determines whether a new action will result in another defeat, and if so, whether that defeat will be stupid and unnecessary as the last one. Reykjavík Rising is an honest attempt to explain and address just such a dilemma not just for Iceland but for all of us who care about genuine democratic politics.
Reykjavik Rising is screening on 13th July at The Forum at 7pm with a special QnA session with the director, Danny Mitchell. Like the Facebook Event to stay in touch and buy tickets right now for a reduced price!