THE RISE AND FALL OF MARGARET THATCHER
MOVIE: **1/2 (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: * (out of 5)
Andrea Riseborough as MARGARET THATCHER (PART I)
Patricia Hodge as MARGARET THATCHER (PART II)
Lindsay Duncan as MARGARET THATCHER (PART III)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
To some, Margaret Thatcher was a visionary and a hero. To others, she was a political pain in the butt. As the most powerful woman in Great Britain during the 70s, 80s and into the 90s, Thatcher had her fair share of challenges. This three-part BBC miniseries shows her humble beginnings, her rise to power and the political problems she faced later in her career. The show is presented in three parts as three separate television films.
WHAT I LIKED
Being a big, dumb American, I don’t know a lot about Margaret Thatcher, aside from the fact that she is beloved by conservatives and in some ways considered the female British version of Ronald Reagan. And as a Brit might come with a relatively clean slate to a film about Reagan, I’m coming at this with a relatively clean slate.
All three of these television movies (though more in the last two than the first one) do their best to keep biting politics out of things. They show a real version of Thatcher, not a puff piece, nor a hit piece. Thatcher is shown in the midst of messy political issues, trying to juggle family, career and government.
As one might expect from somewhat intellectual British television, these films are very well acted, even amid an obvious BBC video look. That’s what’s always raised the level of quality of BBC works – the acting rather than the production value.
I imagine fans and critics of Thatcher will enjoy at least parts (although most likely different parts) of these movies. The first film, showing how Thatcher got into politics, is more in the tone of a Lifetime television movie than the other two films which focus on the inner workings of British politics and how it relates to the rest of the world. So I’d imagine the stereotypical housewife will like the first movie while her stereotypically political-minded husband will more enjoy the other two.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
The biggest stumbling block that I faced in these films was my complete ignorance of British politics. I know they have a House of Commons and Parliament, and I know the Queen asks the Prime Minister to run the government after every election, but a lot of the nuance is lost on me. I suppose it’d be like a Brit having to figure out the Electoral College in a political film about our Presidential race.
And while I was alive during the whole Falkland Island mess, I only heard about it in passing as a child watching the nightly news breaks with my parents. I didn’t understand the details, and the second film (which focuses primarily on that situation) got quite confusing for me. Finally, the third film, which shows her downfall, exists almost entirely in the British realm and was even more confusing.
So, for big, dumb Americans like me, you’re gonna want to pay close attention and not get lost. But for anyone with a working knowledge of British government and the history behind Thatcher which ended two decades ago, this might be an in-depth, intriguing film.
Although all three movies of the series are included on this two-disc DVD set, there are no special features.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
People interested in the inner workings of British politics.