Winstanley’s Utopia in Literature and in Cinema

Alice Manuela Martins Guimaraes


Trying to achieve a perfect or better society for living, men dared, from the very beginning of his existence, to fulfill their own utopias. This was the case of Winstanley, a man who during the Interregnum envisioned for the future of the English Commonwealth the establishment of a rural communism as he believed "the earth was a common treasure for all." Beginning his utopia with an impulse to act and a call for action: "If you don't act, you do nothing" Winstanley, failed setting up the Diggers communities with whom he established proto-socialist communes. However he still continued to act, but this time "digging in the pages" and not in ground as he had done with the Diggers. Based in his previous experience with Diggers communities he wrote then his remarkable utopia, The Law of Freedom, which he dedicated to Oliver Cromwell, urging the English people to emulate it. Once more he wasn't succeeded with his words and only in the twentieth century historians and film makers found in his pamphlets and his literary utopia, a remarkable literary and historic resource to depict the socio-political reality of the Interregnum period. So it would be in cinema through the shot of image, that Winstanley's utopia would be relived and restored it to life. Through this remarkable intersemiotic transpose we realize that the process of writing can be regarded as the process of picturing as both try to piece together or, in other words, "re-member" fragments of recollections from the past, of haunting guilt and traumas, beautiful dreams and aspirations, or visions of utopias that far from being fixed entities, are, rather, an endless and unfinished process filled with clashes and conflicts.     


Winstanley; Utopia; Literature and Cinema

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