Your Guy Fawkes Night movie marathon!

Remember, remember!
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!

It’s time once again to light a bonfire, set off some fireworks, and burn an effigy of the Pope.  Wait, what?  Yes, today is Guy Fawkes Night (aka Guy Fawkes Day, or Bonfire Night, or Fireworks Night).  One of those quaint English customs that never caught on in the USA, like rolling a wheel of cheese down a hill, eating Marmite or listening to Oasis, Guy Fawkes Night commemorates the disruption of a Catholic terrorist plot against King James and Parliament in 1605. Ever since then the Brits have burned guys in effigy, listened to anti-Catholic sermons, begged for pennies, and done other inscrutable English things. This year, however, let us usher in a brand new tradition: The Guy Fawkes Night movie marathon.

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1. Gunpowder, Treason, and Plot (2004)GTP

Start your evening off with some historical background. Skip part one of this BBC two-part miniseries, which is standard costume drama fare about Mary Queen of Scots. Proceed directly to the Gunpowder Plot episode.  Robert Carlyle, who you may remember as Begbie from Trainspotting, goes full Richard III (never go full Richard III!), portraying King James as a self-loathing gay wifebeater with a limp. After Elizabeth dies, Begbie King James comes to London and loses the Catholic vote, to put it mildly. In no time at all there is a conspiracy against the King, consisting of Moe, Larry, Curly, and Michael Fassbender (!) as Guy Fawkes. Spoiler alert: the conspiracy fails.

Relevancy: 5 Guy Fawkes Masks
Fun Factor: 2 Bonfires

2. Wonderland (1999)wonderland

One of those gritty slice-of-life dramas of the type that Mike Leigh and Ken Loach are known for, Wonderland partly takes place during Guy Fawkes Night, and concerns various London women looking for love. There’s not really much going on here. Shirley Henderson appears in this movie, and she’s always good, but if you like this sort of thing you would be better off watching Mike Leigh’s Secrets and Lies.

Relevancy: 1 Guy Fawkes Mask
Fun Factor: 1 Bonfires

3. Salome’s Last Dance (1988)salome

Oscar Wilde goes to a brothel on Guy Fawkes Night 1892.  Since this is a movie brothel and not a real one, instead of sex Oscar is presented with his own play Salome. The framing story comes uncomfortably close to being a Monty Python sketch…

…but the play itself is fairly engrossing. In one of her few films, Imogen Millais-Scott steals the show from Glenda Jackson. It’s a shame that health issues killed her career, because her sexy sashaying Salome is a knockout performance.

Relevancy: 1 Guy Fawkes Mask
Fun Factor: 2 Bonfires

4. Attack the Block (2011)attack

Aliens attack Earth on Guy Fawkes Night, but make the mistake of landing in a London council estate. A bunch of juvenile delinquents who call each other “bruv” and say “innit” a lot fight back ghetto-style. This is one of the best horror/sci-fi/action/comedies ever made, and could kick Shaun of the Dead‘s ass.  Believe.

Relevancy: 1 Guy Fawkes Mask
Fun Factor: 5 Bonfires

5. V for Vendetta (2005)v

You saw this slice of awesome when it came out, and you probably own the DVD, so it needs no description. This movie’s vision of an all-powerful surveillance state only becomes more relevant as time goes on.  Watch it again tonight, and start a movement tomorrow.

Relevancy: 5 Guy Fawkes Masks
Fun Factor: 5 Bonfires

For a bonus round, watch Trainspotting again. Shirley Henderson from Wonderland appears, as well as Robert Carlyle from Gunpowder, Treason, and Plot, making this movie a two-degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon Guy Fawkes Night movie. See you at the bonfire!

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  • Thurb

    This is an area I’m utterly devoid of knowledge or opinion about, except of course that marmite sucks. Oh, and Carlyle is one of the great scenery chewers of all time. He can tone it down, but is so much more fun when he doesn’t. See Once Upon a Time…

    • pollosmoky

      Aw, c’mon, who doesn’t love a diminutive Glaswegian in tights & an elizabethan[-ish] collar? I know I do! Er, will, uh…whatevz.

  • watertiger

    Innit, bruv?

  • Farb

    There we were. It was just after Tet, 1968. John Rambo — I kid you not — looked over his bud and blinked behind his glasses. Snare said something about Guy Fawkes. Rambo said something that sounded vaguely familiar, like Yo, Adrienne! But not. Someone arrived with the Park Lane carton of pre-rolled weed. We went out back to smoke and watch the lights from the choppers out on the perimeter. We put tapes into the boom box by the light of Long Binh Jail.

  • Tlazolteotl, Bitter Darkness

    Re “Wonderland”….. do the women eat sausages? Because my understanding is that eating sausages in front of a bonfire while watching fireworks is how Guys Fawkes Night is DONE.

    • I don’t believe there is a single sausage consumed in this entire movie marathon. Next year I will do Guy Fawkes Night RIGHT.

  • mtn_philosoph

    5) V for Vendetta (2005)

    Never heard of it. Seriously. (Or any of the others, for that matter.) No theaters out here in the wilderness.So anyhoo, how does one go about accessing any of these fine examples of cinematic art?

    • I did the iTunes store for Salome’s Last Dance. Attack the Block and V for Vendetta come up on cable fairly often, or you can use B I T T O R R E N T