Dad having suggested a visit so see the film "The Iron Lady" at Wimbledon's HMV cinema for a 92nd birthday present, yesterday we watched the film with him, mum (herself 95) and little sister. The ages of maytrees' aged Ps are worth mentioning as one of the criticisms of the film arises from the fact that Mrs Thatcher is still very much alive so the depiction in the film of her infirmities of dementia of some kind is said by some to be tasteless if not unkind. Aged Ps' comments after the film were not that the film was unkind but that they would have preferred more on politics and less on human frailty.
But for dad suggesting this cinema trip as a birthday present I would probably not have taken the trouble to see The Iron Lady. The last outing to a politically inspired production made by mrs maytrees and I was by chance to to '13' at the National a week ago and that was indeed invigorating but the one before that was in 2004 to David Hare's The Permanent Way also at at the National. The Permanent Way was unbalanced in blaming the then recent railway tragedies eg at Paddington on the de-nationalisation of British Railways but conveniently overlooked the fact that earlier fatal tragedies such as those at Clapham Junction and at Hither Green had occurred when the railways were all state owned. 13 was invigorating fiction the Permanent Way was portrayed as fact and being so irritatingly unbalanced and not enjoyable. I assumed The Iron Lady would be in the latter category.
The assumption was incorrect. Meryl Streep's portrayal as Mrs T was brilliant. Mrs Thatcher's early years as a grocer's daughter were depicted well as was her romance with Dennis leading to their marriage. Much of the film involved the clever interpretation of Mrs T's grief following the death of her husband into which the frailty of her senior years and the onset of dementia were cleverly in my view interwoven. Olivia Colman played daughter Carol Thatcher to a T (pun intended) and made me appreciate the good fortune of parents who in their dotage still have the enduring love and loyalty from a child or children of their family.
My immediate reaction was that this was a film which should be watched by the maytrees' daughters as the difficulties faced by women of Mrs Thatcher's generation in progressing in politics commerce or indeed any way of life other than one which was 100% family orientated were well illustrated. However so far as Conservative party politics and perhaps the British way of life more generally are concerned the film shows that the real obstacle she faced was more one of class than of gender. Being the daughter of Grantham Grocer Roberts rather than part of the landed gentry was what seemed to cause the greatest angst to her Tory political confreres. British society has improved since then but we are still class ridden though in a different way. Inverted snobbery perhaps makes greater impact today than then even to the extent of some being prepared to see the Permanent Way as fashionably trendy lefty but not The Iron Lady whose story is to the political right rather than left.
The Poll Tax questions faced by Maggie T and the riots associated with them were well depicted. In my view the Poll Tax does not seem unfair in principle. The old adage of ; 'no taxation without representation' logically should have some counterpart in; 'no representation without taxation' as otherwise those who receive state cash benefits would naturally vote for those who would be likely to increase the cash benefits but be 100% shielded from the extra taxation required for their funding. Clearly there would be a need to safeguard the very poor but the very poor tend not to be average and it was not the impoverished who complained most.
The crises within the Euro Zone and the riots frequently depicted on the Streets of Athens show that Mrs Thatcher probably had a good point to make after all but that a smallish section of UK society was not at the time prepared to listen. Are we more amenable to listening now?
The problems and questions presented to the UK by Miners' strikes too and Mrs T's attempts to answer these, were well portrayed. Again the unwillingness of Society to face harsh truths at the time is evidenced by the fact that the coal mines which largely closed were not re-opened upon Labour governments taking office subsequently.
One friend after Mass last night re-iterated the criticism that such a film should not be shown whilst the principal character and her family are still alive. The friend allied her comment to criticism of the celeb. culture that has taken hold in so many quarters of contemporary British society. I agree with her latter point she made but not as regards The film itself. Mrs T like any politician chose public life and as such her life will always susceptible to public scrutiny and comment . Tony Blair's life is not infrequently looked into years after his time in office came to an end. Mrs Thatcher's adult children too fall into similar category - Carole Thatcher who in any event comes out well in the film was/is herself a journalist and broadcaster. Her brother Mark as I recall was lost in the Sahara desert and £100,000s had to be spent on rescuing him by the Moroccan government. He has also put himself in the public eye in other spheres and I see no reason why the agenda as to what the public may or may not see should have to be set by a family in such circumstances.
In any event Mrs T, her daughter and many of her policies are well described in the film and as dad said yesterday he was so involved in what Maggie Thatcher was doing saying or thinking in the film that he felt it was MrsThatcher herself he was seeing rather than Meryl Streep - brilliant acting by any yardstick and whatever political hue.