August 3, 1979 [Winstanley]

Winstanley is filmed like a documentary, but has the feel of an earnest school play--and I write that without condescension. Its actors seem not so much acting as posing, standing just so--but without proclamation, without raised chin and unblinking eye. It's as though they knew they were in history--"Diggers" all, the early Christian communists of England, taking the Gospel at its Word and trying hard to free themselves from the emerging false freedom of free trade. Gerrard Winstanley wandered among the hedgerows and copses, along the treeline and into the dales--and every inch of ground that he saw he knew came from God, and that it was our common home.

It's a shame to think of him as "brave"--does it take courage to know the truth? Is one heroic in the certainty that 2+2=4? Gandhi said that the law of love worked like the law of gravity, "whether we accept it or not." The "True Levellers" also knew their facts, and wanted simply to claim their due, work on it and make something. The movie knows this, too, and time-travels to a black-and-white pageant with the sound of real wind in the microphones and a pale and luminous English light on Winstanley's upturned face.


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