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Film and Thatcher’s Britain

jclarke | Tuesday December 03, 2013

Categories: A Level, Eduqas (WJEC) A Level, WJEC AS, FM2, Section B: British Film Topics, Analysis, Film Analysis, Film Industry, Censorship & Regulation, Copyright & Licensing, Film Marketing, Film Publicity, Film Promotion, Films & Case Studies, Hollywood Films, Chariots of Fire, Non-Hollywood Films, My Beautiful Laundrette, Genres & Case Studies, Comedy, Drama, History, Romance, Sport, Hot Entries, Key Concepts, Audience, Film Language, Representation

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One of the key issues to be explored in our study of film is that of representation. As such, it’s fair to say that there’s an established, and largely agreed upon, understanding that film, like other media and forms of cultural expression, can reflect back to us aspects of the conditions in which we live or have lived with. Certainly, there’s scope for us to think about how British cinema has, in more or less ‘obvious’ ways, reflected back to us a point of view about a particular British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, and the period in which she led the British government.

Mrs Margaret Thatcher was the Prime Minister of Great Britain between the years 1979 and 1990 and her time in this complicated and influential role was hugely popular and hugely controversial. As with all party-political figures her policies and choices were supported by many and derided by many.

This particular resource is intended to help you with exploring how British film has represented aspects of what has come to be known as ‘Thatcher’s Britain’. It’s a term that offers some sense of how influential her policies were. However, before we discuss two readily available films in more detail we need to sketch out a sense of the policies that characterised Thatcher’s government. In a way, what we are doing here is attempting to understand what kind of ‘feeling’ her policies were intended to encourage and create within the British public.

Mrs Thatcher’s administration was very much tied into the news media (newspapers and TV as the internet was not yet a part of the cultural context). Her administration also became synonymous with The Falklands War, The Miners’ Strike, and the political and cultural tensions in Northern Ireland. Two films that explore the Miners’ Strike and the situation in Northern Ireland are Brassed Off (1997) and Hidden Agenda (1990), each finding ways to dramatise these...


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