There’s this genre in movies coming from the mid-XX century that’s been captivating moviegoers all around the world: the gangster movies.
Some of the best titles of the mafia genre, including The Godfather, Goodfellas, and Once Upon A Time In America, all come from the 1970s and still maintain their appeal to the modern audience.
However, one cannot come across such legendary and memorable motion pictures made in today’s Hollywood. Even the recent The Irishman from Martin Scorsese came a long way until it was finally put in motion. Scorsese was reluctant to make this film because the mafia genre has had its time in the 1960s all the way to the 1990s, and it seems like it has expired itself.
Now, with all that being said, we, The Godfather fans, are sometimes served with the period masterpieces that manage to attract our attention and drag us in. Such pieces are, therefore, much more valuable and we need to appreciate their makers for being bold and reanimating the genre.
From a tiny production to a global acclaim
The title I have in mind is a British period crime drama TV show, Peaky Blinders. That’s right: the mafia/gangster genre has finally trickled down to the TV show industry and proved quite successful, as far as I’m concerned.
According to Cillian Murphy, the actor playing the main protagonist of the show, Thomas Shelby, Peaky Blinders was never meant to be a massive project. BBC only intended it for a smaller British audience, animating the era of the early 20th century where Birmingham is entrenched in the gangster wars, not to mention the corruption in police and other official institutions.
However, the show turned out to be a massive hit across the globe. Peaky Blinders has won several BAFTA awards over the recent years, not to mention other prestigious festivals such as Writers’ Guild of Great Britain Awards, TV Choice Awards, and many more. In short, we witnessed the birth of the recent mafia masterpiece.
And the reasons for that are abundant in the TV show itself. Let’s take a look at some of the most prominent aspects of Peaky Blinders and why they’ve appealed to the viewers this much.
Gems of Peaky Blinders
Derby and sports betting wars between gangsters
First off, we cannot do this article without mentioning Derby and its connection to the Shelby family. Derby, if you don’t know it, is basically the horse racing taking place in the UK and Shelby’s have a large sports betting company that takes bets from Derby punters.
Now, the reason why sports betting and in general, gambling, is a valuable aspect of the TV show is how accurately it represents the full scope of this business back in the early 1900s. While today’s punter or an online gamer can find the best gambling site and spend their time undisturbed, that certainly wasn’t the case in Peaky Blinders’ time. There, people weren’t entitled to the freedom of choice, not to mention the diversity of gambling operators.
Not to go into full detail, the gangsters are controlling this business and Shelbys, with the leadership of Thomas Shelby, are among the most popular Derby betting companies. The first season of the show captures the essence of gangster wars over the dominance in the sports betting industry, and it goes without saying that things are getting a little steamy and bloody out there. Even if there was nothing else, the heated competition between these influential groups could very well be the only reason why Peaky Blinders had to become this global phenomenon.
But you can be sure that there’s much more to this amazing TV show. The next impressive representation of the early-20th-century-UK is political games. While we are positively inclined to the Shelby family and their Peaky Blinders gang, I was still very much appalled by the fact that the police was completely bought out by the gang.
In Birmingham, Peaky Blinders control everything, including the police officers and their execution of the “rule of law”. Unfortunately, that was actually the case during that time, and not just in the UK; everywhere around the world, rich and influential entities had the biggest leverage over the official institutions, which is still relevant today.
There’s also another political front in the show: this is the time when the Socialist movement has already gained momentum in Europe, while the UK has various syndicates planning and executing riots against crony-capitalists.
Since Peaky Blinders can be considered crony-capitalists as well, they are in a competition with Socialists as well. And, once again, the rivalry between the two groups is hardly confined in the ideological realm: we see lots of political killings and beatings and all sorts of stuff.
British gangsters vs. Italian mafia
But none of the things I said above come close to the fact that the fourth season features our beloved Italian mafia! That’s right: one of the gangsters killed at the end of the first season turned out to be related to the Changretta family in Italy, and Luka Changretta, enraged by the prospect, comes to Birmingham to personally execute Peaky Blinders.
To fully comprehend the scope of this feud, you have to start the TV show from the beginning and understand just how vicious and ruthless the Peaky Blinders are. And since you should already know that the Italian mafia is one of the deadliest forces in the gangster world, it’s not difficult to imagine what bloodbath we get to witness in this season of Peaky Blinders.
Oh, and the best part is that Luka Changretta is played by my all-time favorite, Adrien Brody. His masterful performance and Italian temperament really turn the whole season into a memorable piece.
So, here’s what The Godfather fan thinks about Peaky Blinders: this is a masterfully crafted TV show that deserves all the attention of every fan of the mafia genre. The moment you take it up, you’ll be greeted with lots of grit, humor, drama, blood, swearing, and fighting – yes, “No f*cking fighting” doesn’t really work in Peaky Blinders (if you want to understand this reference, watch the show)!