Set in 1922, Season 2 of the historical drama Peaky Blinders follows the exploits of a Birmingham-based inter-war family-run criminal enterprise – the Shelby’s. The season features two prominent cemetery scenes. As with the cemetery scenes in Season 1 (set in 1919), discussed here and here, the filming took place at Bradford’s Undercliffe cemetery.
Season 2 opens with the funeral of Freddy Thorne: Ada’s husband. We see the funeral party at the graveside with a priest with an open bible. The party is divided: on Thorne’s side are Ada, her son, and family including some with banners for the Communist Party of Great Britain (Freddy was a communist, his ideals in tension with those of the Shelby’s). On the other side are the Shelby clan. Between them, the earth from the grave is implausibly dark and uniform.
The scene shifts to follow Ada talking to Thomas as they walk away from the grave and the funeral past many elaborate memorials.
The main paths are clear with very short mown grass, while off the main path are wild flowers and long grass. The monuments look clean and neat: fresh as new and thus well maintained, although this is largely a creation of the bright angled light. The distance is clearly been manipulated to avoid the appearance of modern features.
So we get a sense of people in the 1920s living in the shadow of the Victorian dead and burying their dead in their proximity. We gain a sense of funerals as prominent occasions for social competition and showing off: Thomas explains that the liveried drivers are simply for the funeral. Indeed, the communist ideals and the extravagant and aspirational funerary setting are in stark tension with each other: this works very well for the plot to come…