Share this project

Done

Share this project

Done
We tell the story of Magna Carta, foundation of our rights: freedom’s unlikely origins, remarkable triumphs and modern challenges.
We tell the story of Magna Carta, foundation of our rights: freedom’s unlikely origins, remarkable triumphs and modern challenges.
We tell the story of Magna Carta, foundation of our rights: freedom’s unlikely origins, remarkable triumphs and modern challenges.
1,222 backers pledged CA$ 85,870 to help bring this project to life.

About

Magna Carta: Our Shared Legacy of Liberty project video thumbnail
Replay with sound
Play with
sound

Magna Carta: Our Shared Legacy of Liberty

CA$ 85,870

1,222


Magna Carta: Our Shared Legacy of Liberty

From the time Magna Carta was sealed in 1215, it has been the foundation of liberty, the touchstone of those who believe citizens control their government not the other way around.

Down through the centuries, its guarantees have been included in the laws and constitutional order of the English-speaking world. Defended when challenged, refined as needed, appealed to again and again, they have protected freedom for nearly a thousand years.

It’s a remarkable story, from its origins in the beleaguered Wessex of the Dark Ages through the rise of Parliament, the English and American revolutions, the granting of self-government to Canada, Australia, New Zealand and later India and the rest of the British Empire. These freedoms have been defended in Parliament, in war and in public debate. But we cannot take them for granted.

If we do not know the story, if we do not cherish these rights, understand them and defend them, if we do not make the story our own, Magna Carta could fade into the pages of history.

A few words for our American friends

 project video thumbnail
Replay with sound
Play with
sound

Americans pride themselves on living in “the land of the free”. It’s right there in the national anthem. But Canada, too, was founded on liberty. Our national anthem calls us “the true North strong and free”. It’s part of our shared heritage, and one we need to keep alive together.

The men and women who made the American Revolution were proud to fight for British liberty, for the rights of Englishmen. They had brought Magna Carta over with them, on paper and in their hearts. At Valley Forge Washington flew the Grand Union flag, with the Union Jack where the stars now sit. But your Founders also understood that liberty is precious and fragile. The Star-Spangled Banner ends with a question: Does the flag still wave? Because liberty can slip away if we are careless. 

Grand Union flag
Grand Union flag

And it is slipping away, throughout the English-speaking world. Government just keeps getting bigger and more arrogant. Due process erodes. And too many people shrug and say what can you do? Others roll up their sleeves and get involved politically, only to be disappointed when the politicians they trust don’t lead, they drift… the wrong way.

We say to change politics we need to change the culture. We need to take back the conversation about who we are and where we come from. We need to remember our story. 

Wilfrid Laurier
Wilfrid Laurier

That story, the story of freedom, of Magna Carta, is the story of the United States. But also of Canada, where Sir Wilfrid Laurier, our first French-speaking prime minister, famously said “Canada is free and freedom is its nationality.” And right before the American Revolution the famous legal commentator William Blackstone called Britain “A land, perhaps the only one in the universe, in which political or civil liberty is the very end and scope of the constitution.”

The whole Anglosphere, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Canada, all were born out of a Britain that prided itself on ancient liberties defended time and again against arrogant governments by brave men and women who rallied around the rights enshrined in Magna Carta, the foundation of our freedom.

So please help us produce the documentary Magna Carta: Our Shared Legacy of Liberty. Contribute $5, $10, $25, $100, whatever you can afford. Help us tell its story, and take our shared history back.


Why us?

We like to say we bring history to life but we dust it off, first.

We have made a career bringing all kinds of topics to life in ways that are often irreverent, sometimes controversial, funny or even infuriating. But we pride ourselves on never being boring.

You can see our previous documentary, The Great War Remembered, on YouTube.

We are going to bring this trademark treatment to the story of Magna Carta, the 800-year-old document that confirmed the foundations of our rights and liberties.


Synopsis

In this country you have rights. You can’t be thrown in jail without due process. You are presumed innocent until proven otherwise. You elect the people who tax you and make the rules you must follow. Your home is your castle. You have the right to speak your mind and associate with whoever you want.

All these rights are enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. But they are much, much older than Pierre Trudeau. June 15, 2015 marks the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, the most important document in the history of liberty. At Runnymede King John was forced to grant such rights, and to admit they had existed from time immemorial, belonged to citizens and always would be the birthright of free people. John was also forced to acknowledge that government derived its power and authority from the consent of the governed, and that a government that violated citizens’ rights was no government at all.

The reason we still enjoy those rights today is that generation after generation of free people took Magna Carta seriously and fought those who would break King John’s reluctant promise.

Runnymede - Picture by WyrdLight.com
Runnymede - Picture by WyrdLight.com

Magna Carta was the foundation of the British form of government Canadians inherited in 1867. It was the touchstone of statesmen and defenders of freedom through the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment and the founding of British North America to the creation of Canada and our cause in both World Wars. Its clauses were familiar to, and were cited by, Edward Coke, John Adams, William Pitt and Winston Churchill.

The rights we are used to enjoying were not given to us by today’s politicians. They derive from the charter sealed 800 years ago. It is incumbent upon us to tell the story of Magna Carta to the next generation, to ensure that it, too, is able and willing to fight anyone who would take those liberties away.

Washington and Lafayette at Valley Forge
Washington and Lafayette at Valley Forge

Hosted by John Robson, “Magna Carta: Canada’s Legacy of Liberty” will visit key British, American and Canadian sites from Runnymede to Westminster, Jamestown, Valley Forge and Nova Scotia in a feature-length documentary to bring Canada’s history to life. Our nation is not a recent, intellectual concept that arose out of a sociology department. It is an adventure in liberty under law that is still being written.

The documentary will explain the origins of our government: How control of the purse by the commons, freedom of speech in Parliament, the specific, accessible legal remedies that protect ordinary people from arbitrary arrest and the seizure of their property were all affirmed in Magna Carta, and preserved over succeeding centuries by men and women clear on their rights and brave in their defence.

Narrative Outline

Alfred and the cakes
Alfred and the cakes

Act I: The Foundations of Liberty
Magna Carta is the key statement of the ancient liberties of Englishmen, intended to conserve, not innovate, protecting rights understood to have existed from time immemorial and celebrated in the stories of Alfred the Great, Canute and Edward the Confessor.

Act II: The Triumph of Liberty
The wax was hardly cold on Magna Carta before John sought to violate its terms. And though the Great Charter was reaffirmed dozens of times by John’s successors, the executive has repeatedly sought to undermine those liberties by force, flattery or bribery. Free people in the English-speaking world have staunchly resisted these attempts, from the frontal assault of Charles I to the indirect subversion of George III, and stood against foreign attacks on their liberty from Philip II to Napoleon, from the Kaiser to Hitler and beyond.

Act III: The Need for Vigilance
Since 1945, ever-expanding governments have, with the best intentions, eaten away at our liberties by creating a regulatory welfare state that casts aside ancient procedural protections of property, parliamentary independence and free speech in the name of economic and social security. Meanwhile our understanding of the living historical basis of our ancient rights has eroded to the point that Britain’s Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron was famously unable to translate “Magna Carta” during a television interview. We need to be vigilant, when demanding the state give us economic security, not to let it accidentally trample our ancient liberties.

Risks and challenges

We are working to a tight timeline with a limited budget. But we have done this before with The Great War remembered, and our team is even more experienced now.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge CA$ 1 or more About $0.80

    You will be listed in the film credits, unless you ask us not to.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    35 backers
    CA$
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  2. Select this reward

    Pledge CA$ 10 or more About $8

    The above plus an exclusive digital photo from the production.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    27 backers
    CA$
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  3. Select this reward

    Pledge CA$ 25 or more About $20

    The above plus a copy of the DVD.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    438 backers
    CA$
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  4. Select this reward

    Pledge CA$ 50 or more About $40

    The above plus a DVD of our previous documentary, The Great War Remembered.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    262 backers
    CA$
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  5. Select this reward

    Pledge CA$ 100 or more About $80

    The above plus a "Special thanks" mention in the film credits.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    268 backers
    CA$
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  6. Select this reward

    Pledge CA$ 500 or more About $400

    The above plus an exclusive poster signed by the crew.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    14 backers
    CA$
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  7. Select this reward

    Pledge CA$ 750 or more About $600

    Get a one-on-one, half-hour chat via Skype or FaceTime with John Robson to discuss the documentary before we leave for England.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Limited 0 backers
    CA$
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  8. Select this reward

    Pledge CA$ 1,000 or more About $799

    The above, plus 10 copies of the DVD.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    5 backers
    CA$
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  9. Select this reward

    Pledge CA$ 1,500 or more About $1,199

    Get a special viewing of the movie for your group with the filmmakers, who will make a presentation and answer your questions! We come to your location; we go anywhere within 150km of Ottawa.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Limited 2 backers
    CA$
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  10. Select this reward

    Pledge CA$ 5,000 or more About $3,997

    The above, plus an exclusive "making of" mini-documentary narrated by John Robson.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    0 backers
    CA$
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.

Funding period

- (45 days)