Film Review: We Are Many

PUBLISHED: 14:03 24 May 2015

LONDON - FEBRUARY 15:  Several hundred thousand people march past the Westminster Clock Tower (Big Ben) towards Hyde Park to protest against the proposed war in Iraq February 15, 2003 in London. Similar massive demonstrations are taking place all over the world as the U.S. and Britain continue to press for a UN Security Council resolution for war.  (Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images)

LONDON - FEBRUARY 15: Several hundred thousand people march past the Westminster Clock Tower (Big Ben) towards Hyde Park to protest against the proposed war in Iraq February 15, 2003 in London. Similar massive demonstrations are taking place all over the world as the U.S. and Britain continue to press for a UN Security Council resolution for war. (Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images)

2003 Getty Images

This slick documentary charting the protests against the Iraq War makes a lot out of something that achieved little, says Michael Joyce.

A recurring criticism of Hollywood movies is their need to always contrive to have a happy ending. This slick documentary offers a comprehensive run through of the Iraq War, focusing on the Stop The War demonstration on February 15 2003, and tries to argue that the mass protests have forever changed the political landscape and the public’s relationship with government. Bad timing, bad timing.

The Iraq War was, like David Moyes becoming Man United manager, one of those rare occasions when absolutely everybody except the people 
doing it knew something to be a bad idea, and they were right. It was such an obviously bad idea that most assumed they must have had some secret plan they weren’t telling us: our anger then was that our leaders were lying to us; our anger now is that they were lying to themselves.

We Are Many is a film to drive you to righteous fury. Firstly at the sight of Bush and Blair, but also at the conveyor belt of celebrities, academics and activists who turn up to say what a fantastic achievement the demonstration was. The stats are impressive – on February 15, 2003 there were marches in 789 cities in 72 countries, on every continent of the Earth, even in Antarctica. But this all sounds very much like Labour politicians on election night announcing that they had actually run a really good campaign.

After an hour the film begins to address this failure to actually achieve anything but then alights upon the idea that the Stop The War movement was the catalyst for the Arab Spring revolutions and parliament defeating the government on going to war in Syria. Given the state Syria, Iraq, Libya and mostly everywhere else in the world is in, it’s hard to see the progress.

Two weeks after People Power furtively snuck into the polling booths to vote the Tories back into power, I’d have to say this attempt to turn all this into some rabble rousing People Have The Power narrative looks like a dodgy dossier of wishful thinking and fantasy.

You are many, but They are more.

Rating: 2/5 stars

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