This collection of films on Netflix now explore some of the greatest social conflicts of the last 400 years. From the French and Russian revolutions, to intense status anxiety in 19th century England, and later to the fierce ideological battles between capitalism and communism in the twentieth century.
Filthy Cities: Revolutionary Paris (2011) Director: Louise Hooper
The squalid conditions of 18th century Paris led directly to the revolution of 1789. In this episode of the BBC documentary series Filthy Cities, presenter Dan Snow travels to the French capital to investigate and recreate the foul smells, sights and tastes that ordinary Parisians of the time would have experienced.
Empire of the Tsars: The Road to Revolution (2016) Director: John Das
Historian Lucy Worsley tells the horrific tale of how the 300-year-old Russian Romanov dynasty came to a violent and cruel end when Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Tsarina Alexandra and their five children were executed by firing squad, after the Bolsheviks seized power in 1918.
Metropolis Restored (1927) Director: Fritz Lang
This is a restored version of the 1920s German sci-fi film Metropolis, which offered a critique of early twentieth-century capitalism by depicting a dystopian future in which society is divided into wealthy industrialists who live in high rises and poor workers who live below ground operating the machines that power the city.
High Rise (2015) Director Ben Wheatley
This is a surreal and, at times, grotesque cinematic version of the novel of the same name by sci-fi author JG Ballard.
It is set in a gigantic 1970s London skyscraper where wealthier residents inhabit the upper floors and the less well-off live in the lower half of the building.
Tom Hiddleston stars as Robert Laing, a fairly affluent physician, who doesn’t fit neatly into any particular social caste. He bears witness to the escalating tensions between the two groups that eventually erupts into murderous revolt.
The Commitments (1991) Director: Alan Parker
A charming and very funny film about a group of working-class Dubliners, trying to escape unemployment and poor prospects by forming a soul band. The Commitments is nearly 30 years old, but the dialogue has not dated at all. It is still a fantastic and uplifting watch with excellent musical performances.