So, we’re exploring the opening ten minutes of Peaky Blinders.
We’re onto Scene 3.
So, what happens?
Thomas Shelby rides through the street and comes to a standstill.
The Chinese Man and Girl from scene 1 come running and stop in front of him.
Sir, this is her.
This is the first time we hear Thomas speak.
A shadow blinds us to his eyes by the peak of his cap.
The girl who tells fortunes?
He takes money from his pocket and gives it to the Man.
He accepts it.
Then, the Girl takes out a small, red, Chinese purse and tips out a handful of red dust.
The director cuts to different villagers watching from their hiding places: grown women, young boys.
We also get our first CLOSE UP of Thomas, almost revealing his eyes, but not quite.
They’re doing a magic spell to make him win a race.
Then, the Chinese Man and Girl both bow, and, holding hands, turn and run away.
Thomas speaks, loudly, to all of the hiding villagers.
The horse’s name is Monahon Boy. Kempton, 3 o’clock, Monday. You ladies have a bet yourself but don’t tell anyone else.
Thomas rides off.
The women and children come back out to the streets.
Theme music kicks in. And we get a title insert:
So, how is Thomas Shelby’s character revealed in this scene through action?
1. When the women and children run to hide we see that Thomas is feared.
2. When the Chinese Man calls him ‘Sir’ he seems to be revered. When the Man and Girl bow as they leave we could also say that Thomas is revered (but this of course could also be fear.)
3. We see that Thomas is well dressed: a three piece suit, a waist coat and a gold watch chain. Wealth, or at least the appearance of wealth.
4. When he pays the Chinese Girl we learn that Thomas is not a tyrant, but generous, paying for her service rather than forcing it for free.
5. Thomas gives the locals a racing ‘tip’ – telling them that the horse will win.
But is this generosity or a scam and therefore revealing an unscrupulous man?
We’re not yet sure.
To sum up then, this scene reveals 5 characteristics of Thomas Shelby:
1. He appears wealthy.
2. He sounds warm and friendly.
3. He seems generous.
4. He seems to be revered.
5. He seems to be feared.
Click here for Scene 5.