Is The Iron Lady The Cast Iron Truth?
Meryl Streep has been wowing cinema audiences across the world with her portrayal of former British Prime Minister Baroness Margaret Thatcher. But just how authentic is the film, and the image of Thatcher that is presented?
In her acceptance speech for her Golden Globe, Streep thanked the British people for letting her ‘come and trample all over’ our history. A Cambridge researcher has recently published an article casting doubts over the film’s historical veracity.
She suggests that whilst the film tends to get details right while neglecting any serious treatment of the big picture. The handbags are big, the hair glossy, and the costumes powerful but there is no discussion of how Thatcher developed her political beliefs.
Her aim, according to the film, seems to amount to little more that a vague sense that governments should be stauncher. Thatcher had a vision of a revitalised Britain, which involved a moral society and a booming economy. She developed these theories during the 1970s with important colleagues and think tanks. There are elements of Methodist moralising and neo-liberal theorising.
Perhaps this was too much to expect from a film about Margaret Thatcher, especially as the author of the screenplay, Abi Morgan, has said that she wanted to write a film about dementia. In using the figure of Thatcher she has created a powerful portrayal of the debilitating effects of age. But, historians are lamenting that the film is a missed opportunity, as they argue that there are so many dramatic, important and controversial moments in her political career which deserved to get a real airing.
Margaret Thatcher’s relationship with the US President Ronald Reagan, at the close of the Cold War, is one of the issues discussed in Oxford Royale Academy’s summer course which studies ‘Britain, the EU and the US since 1945’. This course is fully booked for summer 2012, but there are eighteen other options to choose from!