AN OSCAR! Well, kudos to Meryl Streep for her Oscar win recently. I viewed the Iron Lady over last weekend, and I think she nailed the portrayal of Margaret Thatcher spot on. I should know because over the past months I have been viewing hours upon hours of documentary about the First Woman Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. And I have read, and re-read John Campbell's biography of Maggie entitled Volume 1: The Grocer's Daughter and followed by Volume 2: The Iron Lady.
THE BEGINNING. Firstly, I think it is a pretty awesome movie, and it is hard to critic any part of Streep's performance as the dogged and determined Maggie. She was the first of the conservative brand of 'conviction politician', unafraid to face down the unions and topple any sacred cows inherited from the earlier brand of paternal conservatism. There was not much paternalism (or maternalism) coming with her victorious entry into No.10 Downing Street.
OVERVIEW. The movie covered all the major turning points in Maggie's political life. From her adoption as a candidate for Finchley as the pretty (but modest) uber frau. To her surprising victory over Edward Heath to take over leadership of the Tory party, and of course her General Election win to bring B&NE its first woman Prime Minister. The movie moved pretty fast to the Falklands War, the IRA bombing of the Brighton Hotel, the defeat of the striking coalminers, her external problems with Britain's European allies, the Poll Tax and finally, the successful conspiracy of 'the men in grey' to topple one of their strongest but most divisive Prime Minister in the Twentieth century.
Having watched numerous news items and documentary on British politics, and especially the Thatcher years, I find little to fault Streep's rendition of Margaret Thatcher. And if you think that Maggie was quite pretty, especially in her younger days, you are not wrong.
Critique. I am not a fan of a lot of what Margaret Thatcher did. I certainly do not like her conversion to the Capitalism of Hayek and the Monetarism of Milton Friedman. I find both symbiotic ideologies repugnant and as a dogma they fail to address the humanist and social responsibility which binds us all together into a community. The assumptions about human nature made in these socio-economic theories are breathtakingly short-sighted. But then again, who am I to question her convictions? She did by her lights what she thought right for her country, fair enough.
I found the film's portrayal of her doddering old age, with the absence of her loyal husband, Denis, both sweet and touching. I like movies that show people to be human, vulnerable and weak. For no matter how much you may disagree with another person's views, we are still human beings in need of each other always. To feel, to empathize and to understand. I am giving this movie an 8 out of 10.
If you would like to know more about Thatcher's political history, you cannot do much better than watch these BBC documentaries; Portillo on Thatcher (Click Here) and Thatcher: The Downing Street Years (Click Here). They will flesh out some of the stories barely covered in the film due to time constraint.
But before I finally leave the Iron Lady with you, I would like to quote a line of Maggie's from the film, which I think would be an ornate gem in any Sufi tale. I will take this as a parting gift, a final caveat - be careful what we let into the well of our mind, less it spoil the waters of our soul...
Watch your thoughts, for they become words,
Watch your words, for they become actions,
Watch your actions, for they become habits,
Watch your habits, for they become your character,
And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.
Have a thoughtful Sunday, sunshine.
Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way