The current film “The Iron Lady” purports to give an account of the life and career of Margaret Thatcher, former prime minister of the United Kingdom. In this the film fails. It does provide a superb vehicle for Meryl Streep to display her well-known acting talent.
But instead of an overview of Lady Thatcher’s career and accomplishments, it portrays a version so slanted that one might suspect it was written and produced by leftists who were no admirers of Thatcher. Oh wait, it was. We are shocked − shocked! − to find leftists in the film industry.
The bulk of the film depicts Lady Thatcher as a senile old woman, bumbling around her rooms and talking to her dead husband Denis. If I were in charge, I would have used her later years as a brief introduction and a brief conclusion, with most of the film devoted to Thatcher’s political career. But of course, for Hollywood to put a conservative in charge of anything except cleaning the toilets is as likely as a pig learning to fly and breaking the New York-Paris speed record. Come to think of it, I’d bet on the pig.
Selected parts of Thatcher’s life are shown in brief flashbacks. We see her as a child, with her parents in an air-raid shelter during a bombing. Some members of the audience will be able to guess that this occurred during World War II.
Perhaps, if it had been made clear that Thatcher suffered through Nazi bombings as a child, the audience might better understand why she grew up to hate totalitarianism and aggression, and to know that they must be resisted with all available force. Then her fierce anti-Communism might make more sense, and her insistence that the Falkland Islands be retaken after the Argentine invasion might be more comprehensible.
But instead, her anti-Communism is not explained, her role −with Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II − in its defeat is underplayed, and her insistence on retaking the Falklands is shown as dangerous pig-headedness. In short, we have a historical film that is seriously lacking in history. Score another point for Hollywood.
The film shows a young Thatcher studying with a speech coach. She had to get rid of her working-class accent in order to rise in politics. Brits are like that. But Bill Clinton and George W. Bush had no need to get rid of their accents in order to be elected president. Americans are like that.
On the other hand, Barack Obama feels the need to put on an accent when speaking to a black audience. Of course, Thatcher felt no need to put on a working-class accent when speaking to a working-class audience. She would have found the idea laughable.
The film mentions that Thatcher graduated from Oxford. It omits that she did so on a scholarship and with honors, that her degree was in chemistry, and that for a time she worked in chemical research. The film also omits that later, she studied law and qualified as a barrister − not bad for a grocer’s daughter whose family lived above the store. On the plus side, the film shows how Thatcher overcame prejudice against women and against her working-class origins.
But to leftists, humble origins are noble only if the result is more leftists. If humble origins produce conservatives, they are seen as traitors to their class − as witness Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Sarah Palin, Dr. Thomas Sowell, Dr. Walter Williams, and many others. Leftists are obsessed with class, as well as gender and race − but they project their feelings onto conservatives, whom they accuse of being bigots. Psychology explains a good deal of politics.
Much is made of Thatcher’s struggle to break the stranglehold of the trade unions on the British economy, but mainly from the point of view of the workers who were angry at having their benefits reduced. The film was completed before the recent British riots, so the attempt to make the audience sympathize with the demonstrators tends to fall flat. Only a few months ago, we saw how pointlessly destructive such riots can be.
And of course, we never hear Thatcher’s statement that so beautifully sums up our current economic problems:
Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money. It’s quite characteristic of them. Then they start to nationalise everything, and people just do not like more and more nationalisation, and they’re now trying to control everything by other means. They’re progressively reducing the choice available to ordinary people.
Thatcher is shown as ambitious and tough, which she surely was. But many of the results of that ambition and toughness are slighted or ignored entirely. She finally becomes prime minister − but not shown is her trip to the palace to be formally appointed by Queen Elizabeth, who oddly never appears in the film. After her retirement, she is called Lady Thatcher, but her trip to the palace to be ennobled by the Queen is also omitted. This is like making a film about an Olympic champion, but omitting the medal ceremony − a rather large omission, wouldn’t you say?
Apparently the film makers dislike a conservative leader so much that they omit key scenes, even though these scenes would have made the film more visually engaging. Besides the scenes with Queen Elizabeth, the film also omits Thatcher’s close friendship and cooperation with President Reagan in hastening the fall of the Soviet Union − a rather large omission, wouldn’t you say?
The film also omits any mention of Britain’s participation in the first Gulf War, with Thatcher’s famous admonition to George Bush the Elder: “Don’t go all wobbly on me now, George.” Was the Gulf War unimportant, or merely unimportant to the film makers? Was reversing Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait a striking example of Thatcher’s hatred of aggression? Not to the film makers.
So instead of an objective treatment of Thatcher’s successful effort to de-socialize at least a portion of the British economy, and instead of almost any treatment of Thatcher’s key role in the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, and instead of any treatment at all of the Gulf War, we watch endless scenes of a senile old woman shuffling around her rooms in a haze.
But in fact, it is the film makers themselves who operate in a haze − a haze due not to advanced age, which is sad, but to advanced leftism, which is inexcusable.
This isn’t the first biopic about a conservative in which the accomplishments were minimized but the problems were maximized. Recall “J. Edgar,” where Hoover’s effective fight against Nazi spies and saboteurs during World War II was omitted entirely, while much time was spent on his alleged homosexuality. Now there’s objective history for you.
The problem is that left-slanted history is what many young people learn in school.
Nor is this the first time that liberals have shown lack of concern for a conservative suffering from dementia. Recall how Michael Moore did an ambush interview of Charlton Heston outside Heston’s home. And recall George Clooney’s “joke” that Heston announced he had Alzheimer’s − again. When challenged, Clooney claimed Heston deserved whatever anyone said about him because he was active in the National Rifle Association. And don’t forget the demonization of Rick Santorum for his way of dealing with the death of his newborn baby, or the disgusting things said about Ronald Reagan when he died of Alzheimer’s. Now there’s liberal compassion for you.
The problem is that this is the model of compassion that many liberals will emulate.
The 86-year-old Margaret Thatcher has had strokes and reportedly now suffers from dementia. This is tragic, but it in no way detracts from her accomplishments. Or do the film makers have the primitive belief that illness is a punishment for wrongdoing? Could this be what the film is intended to imply?
Yes, the Iron Lady finally rusted, but only after accomplishing more than the vast majority of so-called world leaders. But true to its leftist bias, Hollywood concentrates on the rust and minimizes the iron. That tells us more about Hollywood than it does about the Iron Lady herself.
Still, in order to become demented, first you have to be mented − which is more than many current politicians can claim. It wasn’t brilliant planning and deep thought that got us into this awful mess.
Dr. Stolinsky writes on political and social issues. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. You are welcome to publish or post these articles, provided that you cite the author and website.