Roland Emmerich is best known for huge disaster movies like Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow and 2012, so the subject of the director’s new film might just surprise you. Emmerich is behind the camera for Stonewall, a historical drama fictionalizing the real-life riots ignited as a result of clashes between police and the gay rights movements in 1960s New York. No aliens or explosions to be seen – at least on the basis of this trailer.
Stonewall instead looks to have more in common with Emmerich’s past historical dramas, like 2001’s The Patriot or the Shakespeare conspiracy thriller Anonymous. The film follows the young Danny Winters (played by Jeremy Irvine), who runs away to New York to escape small-town prejudice, only to find out the big city is no more accepting of his sexuality. Finding refuge at the Stonewall Inn, he’s drafted into the gay rights struggle by Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ Tony.
To Emmerich’s credit, it looks like the film won’t be shrinking away by the conflicts within the gay rights movement itself, as well as against authority figures which tried to shut the Stonewall Inn down. The trailer makes explicit parallels with other civil rights struggles, using a recording of Barrack Obama’s 2013 inauguration speech invoking the Selma protests (itself dramatized in the Oscar-winning drama by Ava DuVernay) and the struggle between non-violent protest and a very real, palpable rage against oppression.
“I may want to do a little movie,” Emmerich said of the film, “about the Stonewall riots in New York. It’s about these crazy kids in New York, and a country bumpkin who gets into their gang, and at the end they start this riot and change the world.” The Stonewall director is gay himself, and a tireless campaigner for LGBT rights (in between making ridiculous blockbusters), so it’s possible this film has some personal significance for him. It’s certainly a story worth telling.
The official synopsis from Roadside Attractions:
“Stonewall is a drama about a fictional young man caught up during the 1969 Stonewall Riots. Danny Winters (Jeremy Irvine) is forced to leave behind friends and loved ones when he is kicked out of his parent’s home and flees to New York. Alone in Greenwich Village, homeless and destitute, he befriends a group of street kids who soon introduce him to the local watering hole The Stonewall Inn; however, this shady, mafia-run club is far from a safe-haven. As Danny and his friends experience discrimination, endure atrocities and are repeatedly harassed by the police, we see a rage begin to build. This emotion runs through Danny and the entire community of young gays, lesbians and drag queens who populate the Stonewall Inn and erupts in a storm of anger. With the toss of a single brick, a riot ensues and a crusade for equality is born.”
Supporting cast members in Stonewall include Ron Perlman (Sons Of Anarchy) as Ed Murphy, the gangster who funds the Inn whilst taking advantage of homeless youths such as Danny; Joey King (White House Down) as Phoebe, Danny’s younger sister; as well as Caleb Landry Jones (X-Men: First Class), Atticus Mitchell (Fargo) and Jonny Beauchamp (Penny Dreadful) as other young occupants of the Stonewall Inn.
Stonewall opens in U.S. theaters September 25, 2015.
Source: Roadside Attractions