I have just been to see The Iron Lady in which Meryl Streep portrays the British Prime Minister (May 1979 to November 1990), Margaret Thatcher.
Being a Brit by birth but having lived out of the UK since 1991 I was interested in this movie primarily because I lived through her administration in the south of England and wanted to see what events and information during this time period had been granted examination and airing by the film industry.
The film is rated M (Mature themes and violence) but I haven’t been able to find any other classification so I’ve given it my own – Doco-drama. I question the wording ‘mature themes’ and can’t put my finger on anything within the film I think warrants this label. As for ‘violence’, well there was plenty of that if you take into account the newsreel footage incorporated from actual events at the time. I might add that I saw all these on the early evening news during the years of her reign – and every other member of the British population had the same access I had, totally uncensored, at that time. Interesting that so many years later those same images are now deemed to be unsuitable for those not eligible to view M rated programmes and films.
The Iron Lady blog (http://www.theironladymovie.co.uk/blog/) tells us how the film has taken the UK by storm and that here in Australia it is an antipodean hit. My visit to the cinema gave me plenty of seat choice as there would have been a maximum of 20 people rattling around and none, other than my husband and I, under 60 years old – most substantially older than that.
Meryl Streep was superb but when isn’t she? However I’m still confused as to what the purpose of the film is supposed to be. Were the makers aiming at an in-depth expose (sorry I don’t have an acute accent on this keyboard) of her political life? Or were they trying for the general upheavals and traumas of the time? Obviously the film concentrated on MT (as Denis called her) but everything I saw was very superficial, very surface-skimmed and I certainly didn’t get a feel they were portraying the woman who ruled the country with an iron fist.
There were many huge occurences during her Prime Ministership: the Falklands war, the Brixton and Toxteth riots, the IRA bombings on mainland Britain and more. Of course, I can never forget 1984 (I had moved to the north-east of England) when the miners were on strike as Mrs Thatcher held out to close 20 coal mines. Union fees were gone, families were starving and freezing and it was a long icy winter.
The restoration of the Falkland Islands and re-laying of undersea communication cables should have been a time of employment and rebuilding, and it was until the government wouldn’t pay the bills. Companies floundered, thousands were laid off, shipping companies were in trouble and related industries disappeared.
What did I think of this film? It brought back the memories, bitter ones. I cried as I saw again the film footage of rioters being clubbed by police, miners marching for their lives and dead horses lying in Hyde Park hit by IRA bombs packed with nails.