They gotta war for oil, a war for gold
A war for money and a war for souls
A war on terror, a war on drugs
A war on kindness, a war on hugs
On February 15th 2003 I was only 10 years old. I had very little knowledge of what was going on around me other than snippets of discussions I would hear my parents having, or news broadcasts that would disrupt the music over the radio as I was driven to school. Little did I know the largest galvanisation of people was occurring not only in my city, but in 789 cities across the globe.
WE ARE MANY is told in an entirely chronological order commencing at the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11 2001, ending with the Arab Spring of 2011/2012 and the vote against war in Syria in 2013. This gives it an easy to follow story, and allows emotions to build and build to a climactic point that ultimately never fruits.
We know these demonstrations did not succeed. We know that we needlessly went into a savage war. We know the outcome was not positive. (Not yet.)
The film focusses for the first half on the lies being perpetrated by western governments to convince the public that a war against Iraq was a good idea. But people simply weren’t buying it. In fact they were having none of it. A movement for peace and anti-war began and grew across America and the UK, and then spread through Europe, and Asia and Australasia until virtually every part of the world was engaging in this debate and fighting for the same ideals as we were here. The results were an eloquent and beautiful display that really showed what unity is, culminating in the single largest mobilisation of people in history.
And yet, despite all of this the UK government overwhelmingly voted for the war to go ahead, despite not having the go ahead from higher security councils, or the trust of the British people. It only left me reeling and screaming at the screen “BUT WHY?! WHAT WERE YOU THINKING??” Did Tony Blair have illicit videos of you drunk and feeling up the waitresses at the Christmas do? What is going on here? It was unfathomable to me.
Some points that may seem like unnecessary story telling, such as explaining how even those in Antarctica chose to protest, still showed the great devotion to the cause. These people, were literally willing to freeze their arses off and lose their jobs because they knew what millions of other people around the world knew too – this was not right. Other points that truly moved me included was the resignation speech of Robin Cook, he seemed so completely disillusioned by the idea of this war, much like many others marching outside the House of Commons felt.
There were scenes of Iraq veterans throwing their medals won in battle at the White House, like grenade bombs being thrown at the American government. Everyone was simply so hurt by this. It was truly evocative.
One of the most inspiring parts of the film was showing that this one failure, this somewhat catastrophic failure on the behalf of the protestors to change the minds of those decided the fates of our soldiers as well as those in Iraq, did not waver peoples strength. Did not hinder their determination to do more, to keep trying. Revolutions broke out across the Arab World including Tunisia and Egypt, as a direct result of the 2003 protests. And in 2013 when UK parliament voted on whether to enter into a war with Syria, politicians listened to the people. We do not want this. This was the first defeat on a foreign policy vote for the British parliament for 231 years.
The film ends on this promising message, that we the people CAN make change. That when anger and optimism come together it is a powerful force. In light of the recent election and changes being made rapidly to our society, if you feel hurt or betrayed it’s time to do something. We have now proved our power as a unit, and I think it’s about time we showed them what we are made of.
We are fear
And we are many
And if we come together
We are a force.
The Final Word: Powerful show that ordinary people can make change.