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Encyclopedia > Vera Drake
Vera Drake
Vera Drake film poster
Directed by Mike Leigh
Written by Mike Leigh
Cinematography by Dick Pope
Starring Imelda Staunton
Richard Graham
Eddie Marsan
Anna Keaveney
Alex Kelly
Daniel Mays
Phil Davis
Produced by Simon Channing-Williams
Distributed by New Line Cinema (USA)
Release date Flag of Italy 6 September 2004 (premiere at VFF)
Flag of United States October 22, 2004
Flag of United Kingdom 7 January 2005
Flag of Australia 10 January 2005
Runtime 125 minutes
Language English
IMDb page

Vera Drake (2004) is a British film directed by Mike Leigh. It tells the story of a working class woman in London in 1950, whose values conflict with the social mores of the period. Download high resolution version (900x1335, 256 KB)Vera Drake movie poster This is a copyrighted poster. ... Mike Leigh OBE (born February 20, 1943 in Broughton, Salford, Lancashire) is an award winning English film and theatre director. ... Dick Pope (cinematographer) (sometimes credited as Richard Pope) was born in 1947 in Bromley, Kent, England, UK . ... Imelda Staunton as Vera Drake Imelda Mary Philomena Bernadette Staunton OBE (born on January 9, 1956 in London) is an Academy Award nominated English actress of Irish Catholic descent. ... Publicity photo of Eddie Marsan. ... Alex Kelly, played by Olivia Wilde, is a fictional character from the second season of the FOX television series The O.C.. She was bisexual and dated both Seth Cohen and Marissa Cooper. ... Philip Davis (born in Grays, Essex, England) is film actor and director. ... New Line Cinema logo New Line Cinema, founded in 1967, is one of the major American film studios. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_Italy. ... September 6 is the 249th day of the year (250th in leap years). ... 2004 (MMIV) was a leap year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... The Venice Film Festival (it: Mostra Internazionale dArte Cinematografica) is the oldest Film Festival in the World (began in the 1932) and takes place every year in late August/early September on the Lido di Venezia in the historic Palazzo del Cinema on the Lungomare Marconi, in Venice, Italy. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_the_United_States. ... October 22 is the 295th day of the year (296th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 70 days remaining. ... 2004 (MMIV) was a leap year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom. ... January 7 is the seventh day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... 2005 (MMV) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_Australia. ... January 10 is the 10th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... 2005 (MMV) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... // Please note that these are the top grossing films that were first released in 2004; because they may have made most of their income in a later year, they may not be the top-grossing films for calendar year 2004. ... Michael Caine in Get Carter (1971). ... The film director, on the right, gives last minute direction to the cast and crew, whilst filming a costume drama on location in London. ... Mike Leigh OBE (born February 20, 1943 in Broughton, Salford, Lancashire) is an award winning English film and theatre director. ... This article is about the capital of England and the United Kingdom. ... 1950 (MCML) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will take you to calendar). ...

Contents

Plot

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Vera Drake (Imelda Staunton) is tirelessly devoted to her family, looking after her husband and children, her elderly mother, and a sick neighbour. Vera's daughter Ethel (Alex Kelly) works in a factory, and her son Sid (Daniel Mays) tailors men's suits. Her husband Stanley (Phil Davis) is an auto-mechanic. Although Vera and her family do not live lavishly, their strong family bonds hold them together. Imelda Staunton as Vera Drake Imelda Mary Philomena Bernadette Staunton OBE (born on January 9, 1956 in London) is an Academy Award nominated English actress of Irish Catholic descent. ... Alex Kelly, played by Olivia Wilde, is a fictional character from the second season of the FOX television series The O.C.. She was bisexual and dated both Seth Cohen and Marissa Cooper. ... Philip Davis (born in Grays, Essex, England) is film actor and director. ...


Vera works as a house cleaner. However, unbeknownst to her family, she also serves as a backroom abortionist. She receives no money for this, believing her help to be an act of generosity, though her partner Lily (Ruth Sheen), a hard-bitten wheeler-dealer who also carries on a black-market trade in scarce postwar foodstuffs, does charge for arranging the abortions without Vera's knowledge. We are also introduced to a character named Susan (Sally Hawkins), who is the daughter of one of Vera's employers and whose story is one of the film's subplots. Susan is raped and impregnated and asks a friend to put her in contact with a doctor who performs abortions. The practice was illegal in 1950's England, but affluent young women could undergo legal, "therapeutic" abortions by finding doctors willing to testify that the procedure was necessary to their mental health. An abortion is the removal or expulsion of an embryo or fetus from the uterus, resulting in or caused by its death. ... Sally Hawkins (b. ...


The sums of money seem rather small to modern viewers, but two guineas in 1950 would be £48 in 2005 money. A hundred guineas the price of a psychiatrist-approved abortion - would be £2400. [1]


Background

In Vera Drake, Leigh incorporated elements of his own childhood. He grew up in North Salford, Lancashire, and experienced a very ordinary, but socioeconomically mixed, life as the son of a doctor and a midwife. In his book entitled, The Cinema of Mike Leigh: A Sense of the Real, Leigh wrote, “I lived in this particular kind of working-class district with some relations living in slightly leafier districts up the road. So there was always a tension, or at least a duality: those two worlds were forever colliding. So you constantly get the one world and its relationship with the other going on in my films.” (Fuller 1995: xi, xxi: 51) Statistics Population: 72,750 Ordnance Survey OS grid reference: SJ805985 Administration Borough: Salford Metropolitan county: Greater Manchester Region: North West England Constituent country: England Sovereign state: United Kingdom Other Ceremonial county: Greater Manchester Historic county: Lancashire Services Police force: Greater Manchester Police Fire and rescue: {{{Fire}}} Ambulance: North West Post... Lancashire is a county in North West England, bounded to the west by the Irish Sea. ...


Production

Mike Leigh is known to use unusual methods to create realism in his films. “Leigh’s actors literally have to find their characters through improvisation and research the ways people in specific communities speak and behave. Leigh and his cast immerse themselves in the local life before creating the story” (1994: 7: Watson 29). Critic Roger Ebert explains, Mike Leigh OBE (born February 20, 1943 in Broughton, Salford, Lancashire) is an award winning English film and theatre director. ... Russ Meyer (left) and Roger Ebert, (1970) Roger Joseph Ebert (June 18, 1942 - ) is an Emmy Award-nominated American television personality, author, and film critic who began writing for the Chicago Sun-Times in 1967. ...

"His method is to gather a cast for weeks or months of improvisation in which they create and explore their characters. I don’t think the technique has ever worked better than here; the family life in those cramped little rooms is so palpably real that as the others wait around the dining table while Vera speaks to policeman behind the kitchen door, I felt as if I were waiting there with them. It’s not that we 'identify' so much as that the film quietly and firmly includes us" (2 of 4).

Leigh uses improvisation in order to capture his actors' unscripted emotions. When filming Vera Drake, only Imelda Staunton knew ahead of time that the subject of the film was abortion. None of the cast members playing the family members, including Staunton, knew that Vera was to be arrested until the moment the actors playing the police knocked on the door of the house they were using for rehearsals. Their genuine reactions of shock and confusion provided the raw material for their dialogue and actions.


Themes

In this film, as in other Leigh works, such as High Hopes, the audience can observe the different social classes interacting. The Drakes are a working class family, while Stanley’s brother Frank and his wife Joyce have moved into the middle class. Susan and her mother are upper class. Owing to Susan's social status, she is able to arrange and pay for a safe abortion, while the women assisted by Vera are not. High Hopes is a 1988 film directed by Mike Leigh. ... The term working class is used to denote a social class. ... The middle class (or middle classes) comprises a social group once defined by exception as an intermediate social class between the nobility and the peasantry. ... The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view. ...


The importance of family is an ongoing theme in the film. Jim Leach argues that “While Leigh seems to offer a fairly conservative view of gender politics through his recurring female characters who want to become mothers, his films highlight the discrepancy between the ideological emphasis on the importance of family and the actual social conditions that place external and internal pressures on family relationships” (61). In Vera Drake the character of Joyce, who claims that she wants to become a mother, is also depicted as the most selfish character in the film. Barely middle-class and insecure, she is preoccupied with material wealth and improving her social status. Her response to Vera's arrest is to distance herself from this shame and embarrassment, though her long-awaited pregnancy plays a role in her reaction. The Drake household is filled with warmth, laughter, and uncomplicated happiness. Vera and Stanley Drake have a strong marriage, and after Vera’s secret emerges, although the family has mixed feelings about what she has done, they remain loyal to her. Stanley’s brother, Frank, is married to a self-centered woman, and their relationship counterbalances the Drakes'. Another significant theme involves morality versus legality. Morally, Vera believes that she is doing the right thing by “helping out” women who do not wish to give birth. She is an honest woman who feels driven to perform these procedures out of sheer charity and her understanding of the consequences of unwanted pregnancies in her socio-economic environment. Vera’s good intentions, however, are irrelevant in a court of law. It is noteworthy that Vera's son Sid strongly represents the anti-abortion position and that the representatives of law and authority -- doctors and nurses, the police, and the judge - are not presented as villains but rather as decent people who are simply doing their jobs properly in the context of 1950's legal and social mores. James Albert Smith (Jim) Leach (born October 15, 1942), American politician, was a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives. ...


Responses

As of 9 April 2006, Vera Drake had grossed $12,941,817 at the box office worldwide, including over $3.7 million in the U.S. [2]. April 9 is the 99th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (100th in leap years). ... For the Manfred Mann album, see 2006 (album). ...


The film has attracted some criticism from those who worked in the medical profession during the 1950s. The chief concern is the method of abortion used by Vera Drake in the film. This involves using a Higginson bulb syringe filled with a solution of warm soapy water and disinfectant, which was then expelled into the woman's uterus. This method is extremely dangerous and is usually fatal. The film itself has been called 'dangerous' as it would be shown in countries where abortion is still illegal.[1] A syringe consists of a plunger fitted to a tube, called the barrel, which has a small opening on one end. ... The uterus or womb is the major female reproductive organ of most mammals, including humans. ...


Awards & nominations

The European Movie Awards are the most prestigious paneuropean movie awards. ... The Venice Film Festival (it: Mostra Internazionale dArte Cinematografica) is the oldest Film Festival in the World (began in the 1932) and takes place every year in late August/early September on the Lido di Venezia in the historic Palazzo del Cinema on the Lungomare Marconi, in Venice, Italy. ... The Golden Lion (it: Leone dOro) is the name of the highest prize given to a film at the Biennale Venice Film Festival. ... The Golden Globe Awards are American awards for motion pictures and television programs, given out each year during a formal dinner. ... Academy Award The Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars, are the most prominent and most watched film awards ceremony in the world. ... // The Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role is one of the awards given to actresses, working in the motion picture industry by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; nominations are made by Academy members who are actors and actresses. ... The Academy Award for Directing is an accolade given to the person that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences feels was best director of the past year. ... The Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay is the Academy Award for the best script not based upon previously published material. ... BAFTA Award The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), is a British organisation that hosts annual awards shows for film, television, childrens film and television, and interactive media. ... Jacqueline Durran is a Academy Award nominated British costume designer. ...

See also

// Please note that these are the top grossing films that were first released in 2004; because they may have made most of their income in a later year, they may not be the top-grossing films for calendar year 2004. ... Movie poster from Ken Loachs Land and Freedom Land and Freedom is a 1995 film directed by Ken Loach and written by Jim Allen. ... Abortion has been legal in England, Scotland and Wales since 1967. ...

References

  1. ^ Guardian.co.uk - A deadly trade

External links

  • Official site
  • Vera Drake at the Internet Movie Database
  • Box Office Mojo: Vera Drake
  • Review of Vera Drake
  • AbsoluteNow.com: Vera Drake's long synopsis
Preceded by
The Return
Golden Lion winner
2004
Succeeded by
Brokeback Mountain

  Results from FactBites:
 
Vera Drake (2004): Reviews (1649 words)
Vera Drake is so patient, assiduous and attentive to emotional accuracy that it betrays the utter sloth of most of what we see when we go to the movies.
As a character study Vera Drake is coarsely drawn, and as pro-choice polemic, it’s both a blunt instrument and a red herring.
Vera has been doing this for twenty years, secretly, seemingly oblivious to the moral dilemmas and the risk not only of imprisonment but the potentially fatal consequences of her work.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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