Against the Law
Directed by Fergus O'Brien
Part biopic, part documentary, Fergus O’Brien’s film utilizes the searing story of British gay rights pioneer Peter Wildeblood (portrayed by actor Daniel Mays) to shine a spotlight on the hidden world of gay men in 1950s England. In an era when homosexuality was illegal and gay men were routinely persecuted and arrested, Wildeblood’s story remains a testament to courage and fortitude. After his lover, a handsome serviceman he met in Piccadilly, denounces him under intense police pressure, Wildeblood, a timid journalist, finds himself under arrest and at the center of a 1954 trial that also targeted Lord Edward Montagu and Michael Pitt-Rivers, his wealthy, high profile friends. This infamous chapter in British gay history, shocking as it may be to contemporary audiences, has a heartening personal outcome in that it emboldened and radicalized Wildeblood, who became one of England’s most outspoken queer activists. Wildeblood’s 1967 memoir, detailing the trial and his life as a gay man, helped lead to the decriminalization of homosexuality in England. Throughout the film, many of Wildeblood’s elderly surviving gay comrades in arms, witnesses to this hidden history, share their shattering, powerful memories of this shameful period.