The British miners' strike of 1984 finds unexpected support in lesbians and gays, but both workers as well as activists have to fight their own battles, before they find their collective strength. The Queer Palm winner of Cannes is one of the most triumphant movie moments of the year.
1984 on the British Isles: Margaret Thatcher's government has announced that many of the unprofitable national mines shall be closed. The miners go on strike throughout the country with the support of the powerful union. Thatcher tries to crush the resistance and in particular the power of the union by intractability. Groups collect money around the country, so that the strikers get food and can hold out. There is one group, however, the affected miners are hesitant to accept money from: the LGSM.
The alliance "Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners" is diligent in collecting financial support for the strike, particularly London's activist group led by Mark Ashton (Ben Schnetzer). But no one dares to take money from homosexuals, until Dai (Paddy Considine) from a Welsh colliery meets with Mark and the LGSM. The Welsh can use every penny, therefore Dai accepts their help gratefully. He even invites the LGSM (like any other supporters) to visit their small Welsh town. But not everyone there is as open-minded as Dai, Cliff (Bill Nighy) or Hefina (Imelda Staunton)...
When it comes to movies which take on socially critical topics (probably even based on real events) in an delightful and entertaining manner, the British quite have the knack for it. Unlike the Germans for example, funny comedies with dramatic depth seem to come effortlessly to the Brits. Sometimes it looks like they have a recipe that always works. In a collection of these movies "The Full Monty", "Calendar Girls", "Made in Dagenham", "The Boat That Rocked", "Brassed Off" or "Billy Elliot" should not be missing. The latter also had the miners' strike 1984/1985 as a background for the plot and the set of "Brassed Off" was similar, but at a later date. "Kinky Boots" on the other hand had addressed gay themes with the specialization of a shoe factory on men's high heels, and it has been successfully adapted by Cyndi Lauper into a Tony-winning Broadway musical in 2013.
It took theatre director Matthew Warchus, born 1966, 15 years to shoot his sophomore film and he has made "Pride" another gem in above series. Premiered in Cannes his multifaceted film was celebrated by the audience with a standing ovation, showered with praise by the press and awarded the Queer Palm for best LGBT film of this year's festival. And indeed, "Pride" has an incredible amount of charm, is both entertaining and moving. The seemingly small story, which culminated in the charity concert "Pits and Perverts" with Bronski Beat on December 10th 30 years ago, contains exactly the right ingredients for a great movie: the hilarious culture clash (city dwellers encounter villagers, Bohemians encounter workers, straights encounter loud, proud and out gays) is balanced with the socially critical themes of labour disputes and acceptance of homosexuals. That Stephen Beresford, who wrote his first screenplay here, unearthed this story, is a great asset.
The well-known older actors (Bill Nighy, Dominic West, Andrew Scott, Paddy Considine) and the lesser-known young actors (George MacKay, Joseph Gilgun, Larissa Jones und Ben Schnetzer) are cast just perfectly. Particularly droll to see is Imelda Staunton ("Harry Potter", "Vera Drake"). One just has to laugh when she makes fun of homophobic citizens or waggles a pink dildo in front of the older ladies. I was reminded of her role in "Taking Woodstock", but also of the lesbian classic "Better Than Chocolate". And if you're not moved at least a bit by the finale of "Pride", you simply have no heart. For almost two hours so much struggle, dedication and sacrifice has been shown that a moment of happiness is pined after for the protagonists in the end. Ah yes, the film doesn't reinvent the genre, but it adroitly avoids kitsch and sentimentality, and fills every minute with real emotions, powered by a great 80s soundtrack. That makes "Pride" already one of the most triumphant moments of the film year 2014—and it is absolutely recommended to everybody.