Movie Monday – “The Iron Lady”December 12th, 2011
Regardless of their views toward the policies and rhetoric of Margaret Thatcher, the only female Prime Minister in the United Kingdom’s history, politicos and history buffs are likely to enjoy “The Iron Lady,” a cinematic presentation of Margaret Thatcher’s career that is set to be released on January 6, 2012. As IMDb notes about the upcoming film in its brief synopsis:
“[The Iron Lady tells] the story of a woman who smashed through the barriers of gender and class to be heard in a male-dominated world. The story concerns power and the price that is paid for power, and is a surprising and insightful portrait of an extraordinary and complex woman.”
Thatcher’s story is compelling in those terms alone, setting aside the world-historical and geopolitical context and influence of her life and career. With Hillary Clinton so near to winning her party’s presidential nomination in 2008, there was much chatter about shattering “the glass ceiling” that bars women from higher offices in business and politics, but that ceiling was shattered a full 30 years ago in the United Kingdom, though not without its share of controversy, male chauvinism, and monikers far more pejorative than “The Iron Lady” which Thatcher reportedly liked.
The Iron Lady‘s theatrical trailer is ample evidence that the film brings this drama to life in a powerful and memorable way. Meryl Streep, an American, positively nails Maggie Thatcher’s accent and even the tonal quality of her voice. What the film has to say about Thatcher’s policies and political ideology is less apparent from the trailer, but there is no doubt her time as prime minister is very controversial. She is often considered an English analogue to Ronald Reagan, who became President of the United States at the same time, took the same hard-line against the Soviet Union, and spoke the same rhetoric of free markets, lower taxes, and deregulation.
Also like Reagan, Thatcher’s rhetoric didn’t always come through in her policies. Both conservative “revolutions” in government were hardly revolutionary, and perhaps mounted, at most, to very marginal changes in policy, while maintaining the overall 20th century trend of more spending and more consolidation of power by the governments of these two centralized nation states. The continued policies of central banking and fiat currency are ample arguments in support of this contention.
Also like Reagan, Thatcher was an incredible speaker with a commanding and charming presence, quick on her feet, clever, and super effective at defending the ideas of free market capitalism, deregulation, and lower taxation. A famous example is Thatcher’s razor sharp criticism of her opponents’ concerns over the growing wealth gap during her last speech in the House of Commons in 1990.
Margaret Thatcher’s talent, charisma, leadership, her triumph against the odds– early reviews indicate that Streep captures these flawlessly, and if her offering is as good as many of the critics are saying, “The Iron Lady” should make for an absolutely fascinating film-going experience.