Blog description.

Accentuating the Liberal in Classical Liberal: Advocating Ascendency of the Individual & a Politick & Literature to Fight the Rise & Rise of the Tax Surveillance State.

Liberty and freedom are two proud words that have been executed from the political lexicon: they were frog marched and stood before a wall of blank minds, then forcibly blindfolded, and shot, with the whimpering staccato of ‘equality’ and ‘fairness’ resounding over and over. And not only did this atrocity go unreported by journalists in the mainstream media, they were in the firing squad.

The premise of this blog is simple: the Soviets thought they had equality, and welfare from cradle to grave, until the illusory free lunch of redistribution took its inevitable course, and cost them everything they had. First to go was their privacy, after that their freedom, then on being ground down to an equality of poverty only, for many of them their lives as they tried to escape a life behind the Iron Curtain. In the state-enforced common good, was found only slavery to the prison of each other's mind; instead of the caring state, they had imposed the surveillance state to keep them in line. So why are we accumulating a national debt to build the slave state again in the West? Where is the contrarian, uncomfortable literature to put the state experiment finally to rest?

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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Film Review: The Iron Lady (2011).


The subject of this film was, of course, not Margaret Thatcher: it was Margaret Thatcher as pastiched together for us first by the film’s writer, then the producer, director, and lastly, Meryl Streep acting the main part. The making of such a film is not something I’d be brave enough to try: the protagonist in real life is surrounded by iconography that swamps the cinematic bio-bite, plus she must be the politician of the twentieth century most susceptible to stereotype, as demonised now, as she was vilified at the time by those who didn’t understand the philosophical, political and economic importance of an individual's liberty to pursue their happiness unhindered by the state. I’ll give the film a grudging pass, but only in terms of entertainment. Outside of that, I have many misgivings.

I’ve not Googled whether the film won any major awards, but would suggest it should have made a ‘special mention’ for employing a subterfuge the Iron Lady would not have been best pleased with, and to that extent its treatment of her is subversive. The group of people who brought this to screen, from concept/novel/whatever on through to screenplay, and finally in the editing room, to parse Margaret’s own mind, in the most memorable scene - and in personal terms no greater sin could have been committed against her - based the movie on their ‘feeling’ toward, rather than what they ‘thought’ of the woman and mind that is Margaret Thatcher.

Why do I say this?

Because this film largely took the politics out of political bio-pic and replaced it with something quite other: The Iron Lady was filmed as a love story. Worse, the deceit was twofold. Not only did the film revolve around the love of the protagonist to her elusively portrayed – due to the lack of detail necessitated by film – husband, Dennis (Jim Broadbent), but it also, cowardly, tried to cut the icon and the stereotype of the Iron Lady down to her knees, by focusing on her trapped in an apartment, as well as in old age, at the start of her slide into dementia. On both counts I’m sure the woman she is would have been furious with the artistic licence taken.

So, entertaining movie, enjoyable, even; Meryl Streep near her best, tasked with an impossible feat: but I do feel the need to come to the defence – as much as she’d hate that also – of Mrs Thatcher: this was not the Iron Lady, certainly not as she would have wish to be remembered, nor for the achievement she made of her life – first and only woman prime minister of Britain, likely to be so for the foreseeable future, and in times that were extraordinary, when she outshone every world leader of the time, even Reagan. (Quick question: what are the full names of Britain’s two current coalition leaders?) Whether you agree with her politics or not, it’s a stunning, gigantic thing she did with her life, which should have been deserving of more respect than this film gave her.

Or not? As I write, ideas tumble over themselves to slowly solidify in place, but can be dislodged again. The film could be interpreted as giving the Iron Lady back what the maker’s saw as a needed humanity that has been lost in all the politicking. I remember hearing an interview with Streep in which she, who had no agreement with Thatcherism, said as much, and that acting the part had changed her view of the subject – though hating Thatcherism is Hollywood for you: I used to idolise Barbra Streisand until I heard her interviewed on her politics; by which I not so much mean what she believed in, but the unthinking way she believed in it - she could only emote her views, as badly as Jane Fonda, not explain them. Regardless, whether Margaret Thatcher would have been interested in such a reconstruction at the expense of her private life and dignity in old age is highly debatable.

Stop the press. I couldn't resist searching for an indication of Maggie's response after all. As it happens, not highly debatable: it seems she was not ‘best pleased’ with this portrayal:

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher refused to view an early screening of Meryl Streep's portrayal of her in The Iron Lady after snubbing director Phyllida Lloyd's personal invitation.

The Hollywood actress tackles the part of the UK's first female leader in the movie, but rumours emerged last year suggesting Thatcher's grown-up children Carol and Mark were "appalled" by the film's plot.

And it seems Thatcher herself has no desire to see the film - she and her offspring rejected the chance to attend a screening of the project.

Lloyd says, "They were the first people we invited to see the finished film. They didn't take up our offer."

Parenthetically, the main interest I take from the film, otherwise, and I wonder if it’s a sign of aging in myself, is a curiosity about the man behind the woman, husband Dennis. I know little about him, I’d like to know more, plus what on earth is the personal history of their son, Mark, last seen, from my memory, facing trial for trying to organise a military coup in Equatorial Guinea. If there was going to be a more informing movie about the family, I reckon it would be about Mark: albeit from what I have read, more in the genre of Mr Bean, than the Bourne trilogy. 

This shouldn't put you off, however: worth watching.

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