Greg Barker’s latest documentary WE ARE THE GIANT is an inspirational and gripping account of the Arab Spring as told first-hand by people from across the Middle East. With remarkable candid access, the film takes its audience inside the lives of six extraordinary people from very different walks of life, deciding they must stand up for what they believe is right, and take action. Each faces a brutal regime determined to crush them into submission, and each makes very different, painful choices that come to define themselves – and their struggles.
With stock footage of historical revolutionaries and peaceful disobedience, Barker has taken an interesting approach to the subject of human oppression by framing these efforts under the banner of sacrifice. Activist Osama describes how his 21-year-old, Virginia-raised son, Muhannad, fought against Gaddafi’s forces in Benghazi. Syrian friends, Ghassan and Motaz remain committed to peaceful resistance even as their country descends into ever-more-hopeless violence. Sisters Maryam and Zainab become pivotal opposition figures while their father suffers in a Bahrain prison. Powerful, tragic and ultimately inspirational, these insightful stories, underscored by echoes from past resistance leaders, show the agonizing and universal dilemmas at the heart of all struggles for justice and freedom whilst illustrating what drives revolutionaries, revealing the astonishing sacrifices they must make to pursue their causes.
To celebrate the release of WE ARE THE GIANT in UK cinemas on 14 November and available on DVD from 24 November. We take a look at here are some of the most historically significant revolutionaries and civil rights activists from across the globe.
“The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall.”
Che Guevara was a Marxist revolutionary that joined Fidel Castro’s Movement during the successful attempt to overthrow Fulgencio Batista’s dictatorship in Cuba in 1959. His revolutionary fervour is often quoted and his legacy continues to stand as a symbol of rebellion which has inspired a wave of references in popular culture. In 1999 Time magazine listed Che Guevara as one of the most influential figures of the 20th Century which both solidified and raised awareness of his perceived martyrdom.
Vladimir Illyich Lenin
“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”
Lenin was a Russian communist revolutionary and a pivotal figure in the Russian Revolutions in February and October of 1917. While the February 1917 revolution was an important moment in the history of Russia its momentum fizzled out and the true desires of Lenin’s revolution, to establish a proletarian government, would not be fulfilled until October of the same year. His political ideas were an extension of Marxism and are known as Leninism. Lenin’s legacy continued to inspire a great number of Soviet revolutionaries, none more infamous than Joseph Stalin who was a key component in exacerbating the tensions between East and West during the Cold War.
Martin Luther King Jr.
“With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.”
Martin Luther King Jr. is one of the most well-known human rights activists in history. He is best known for his role in the African-American struggle for civil rights during the 20th Century. He led the African-American Civil Rights Movement using nonviolent civil disobedience and this quote is taken from his famous “I have a dream” speech at the 1963 March on Washington. He was planning a nonviolent occupation of Washington D.C. in 1968 when he was assassinated by James Earl Ray.
“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
Thomas Jefferson was an American founding father, the third President of the United States and an advocate of Democracy and Republicanism. He was a prominent influential figure in the drafting of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. In America’s youthful years the process of ruling was relatively developmental. Jefferson’s role in the revolution was limited to a judicial role initially before taking on more executive powers in America’s bid for independence from Britain.
“I do believe that where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence I would advise violence.”
Mahatma Gandhi was the leader of the Indian Independence Movement during the colonial years of the British Empire. A historically significant advocate of nonviolent disobedience, Gandhi’s legacy continues to inspire revolutionaries who believe in civil rights and civil freedom, most notably Martin Luther King Jr. and his Birthday is recognised as an International Day of Nonviolence. His most famous act of civil disobedience was the Dandi Salt March in 1930 which was 400km in length and challenged the British imposed salt tax. He was assassinated in 1948 during his campaigns to promote religious harmony in divided Indian territories.
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