'Peaky Blinders': 5 reasons why Steven Knight's periodical crime thriller is one of the most watched shows ever
It is immersive in nature, and there are hardly ever any scene which would make you want to leave the screen.
'Peaky Blinders' is all set to return on BBC One this year in Spring, and we cannot wait to see the Shelbys face-off with the Billy Boys of Glasgow, who will pose a new threat for Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy) and his family. Coming from creator Steven Knight, who had sketched out the story from the tale he would hear as a child from his parents about the deadly Birmingham street gang, 'Peaky Blinders' has a lot to it than just being another crime thriller.
Set in the 1920s' Birmingham, the show follows the infamous Shelby family who rules over Small Heath, in Birmingham, with their army of peaky blinders. As the name suggests, the street gang was unruly with their killings, slashing the eyes of the enemy with razor blades attached to their caps, and were known for their violent and willfully disruptive lifestyle. While the idea itself is thrilling enough to keep the audience hooked on the show, Knight does not stop there. He took that extra effort to make characters from the '20s relevant in the 21st century. As the show is set to return this Spring, let's look at the top 5 characteristics which have made the show one of the most consciously engrossing shows ever:
1. When things are personal
Any story narrated from a personal perspective will always retain its authenticity, and that is exactly the best part about 'Peaky Blinders'. Knight drew upon the idea from the tales that he would hear from the elders of his family. His great-uncle was a peaky blinder himself, and Knight narrated, "My great uncle was actually in the Peaky Blinders. When my dad was eight years old...somebody gave him a message and said, ‘Take this to your uncle.' My dad got hit with a waft of cigarette smoke and saw a round table covered in money and these immaculately dressed men, their caps tilted at a jaunty angle, drinking beer out of jam jars."
Knight had also stated that his mother, when she was nine years old, had "worked as a runner for an illegal bookie.” With so much history laid down like a panel of snapshots in front of him, Knight found it to one "helluva world" that should be portrayed on television in just the way it is.
2. All that '20s Jazz
The 1920s were some crazy times, and cinematographer Simon Dennis has captured the Industrial Age in all its highs and lows. Small Heath, with the massive urban buildings and the constant construction noises at the background itself, creates the mood of a dark dungeon within Birmingham. The grey tone of the colors and the landscape frames bring out all the dirt and the lurking violence making Birmingham appear like a boiling inferno. Knight had described it as "Cinematography was the area most affected by the idea that this world is being seen through the eyes of kids. My mom and dad remember a throbbing city filled with smoke, dust, fire–you’d see huge flashes coming from factories that operated 24 hours a day. The thumping and pounding and smoke never stopped.”
3. Ladies of the Shelby Club
Actress Helen McCrory had explained that one of the best parts about the show was its female characters, and no one can write a convincing yet complicated female character better than Knight. In an interview with Daily Mail, she had stated, "Steve writes about women with the same complexity as he writes about men...He divides it much more equally and writes for the characters, rather than for the genders. So, I have always enjoyed Steve's writing." The Shelby ladies, although women from the pre-World War II era, are anything but reserved. They are loud, their fashion is way ahead of their times, and above all the Shelby Automobile Pvt. Ltd. would never be what it is without the women who have been running it when the men were out at war.
4. Subtle poetry disguised as gibberish
One of the most savoring factors of 'Peaky Blinders' is its dialogues. Knight does away with all the cliches of any crime thriller and lets the poetry flow in its most natural form. It matters to him where his characters come from, and accordingly, he places the dialects to their language. He had mentioned, "The rule in film and television is to be ‘naturalistic,’ but I believe we have to defend the poetry within the dialogue and not throw it away just so you can have your characters mumble, as if that proves how real they are. I try to write dialogue in a way that’s closer to how people really talk, which I think is a mixture of gibberish and poetry." After all, it is only in 'Peaky Blinders' that a line as violent in nature as "I just put a bullet in his head…. He looked at me the wrong way" can be delivered with utter ease and comfort.
5. It doesn't get old when it is folk
In conclusion, no crime thriller will take you back to the era when folk songs were the clarion call for peace. While Nick Cave's hard-hitting, 'Red Right Hand', sets the stage for a Shelby showdown, Bob Dylan's 'A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall', makes you ponder upon the upcoming doom over the Communist party which will be inevitably caused by their newly elected president, Thomas Shelby. On the other hand, the show has also managed to pull in some of the greatest folk singers like the late Leonard Cohen, who had actually composed an original track for the show, 'You Want it Darker'. The show had also attracted David Bowie, whom Cillian Murphy gifted by blinder cap. According to Murphy, Bowie had personally urged for his song, 'Lazarus', to be used in the show.
'Peaky Blinders' returns on BBC One this year in Spring.