Friday, 14 November 2014


Normally I don't like feel good movies but this one is a bit special in the same way that Made in Dagenham (2010) and Brassed Off (1996) were a bit special. It's the serious subject matter that these film’s tackle that makes them interesting with an added sense of British  humour, something none of us could get through life without, not these days anyway! Nigel Cole's film dramatises the Ford sewing machine strike of 1968 that finally lead to Equal Pay Act 1970 for women. Where as Pride (2014) directed by Matthew Warchus (who is soon to replace Kevin Spacey as creative director at London's Old Vic Theatre) deal's with two important subjects that could easily become a neglected part of our social history. Firstly lesbian and gay men's rights at a time when AIDS was becoming a key political issue, with little appetite from the authorities to fight the decease and secondly the UK miners strike which took place in 1984/85 which was the most significant and far reaching strike in the twentieth century, one which still has repercussions to this day and not just in the impoverished and run down mining community's that were left to rot but the far-reaching effects it is still having on the British working class, entirely imposed by rich elitist Westminster and their rich elitist backers in the City of London, incidentally this was the reason why a lot of people living in Scotland voted YES in the independence referendum – a fairer and more equal society.
LGSM get ready to join the march. 

The benefit concert.

This amazing story is based on true events that happened 30 years ago. It gives us an account of the alliance between the pioneering London fundraising group Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM), and the people of a mining village in the Dulais valley in Wales who like the rest of the brave mining community were mainly reliant on outside help to enable them to continue with the strike and not starve! LGSM raised £11000 by December 1984 and also enough money to provide a much needed mini-bus for the miners to use. We witness the last gasp of popular socialism and the unfortunate rise of AIDS but what is really significant about this story is the coming together of two groups of people that one would think, on the surface would not be possible. An inspiring film that makes you feel that mankind could sort out their differences and then you read the newspaper and realise that perhaps this is just wishful thinking?
Jonathan Blake survives AIDs for 30 years! 

But Mark Aston died at 26!!

This film continues the long line of great British films that used to be called ‘social problem’ movies. As well as being entertaining it’s a political film about solidarity as the Welsh miners Union leader Dai Donovan (Paddy Considine who gives a commendable performance) meets Gay activist Mark Ashton[1] (Ben Schneter) and they realise how much each of these different groups had in common. Both groups had a common enemy, both groups had been demonised by the right wing press and both groups had engaged in a fight with the political establishment to support what should be their rights, whether it is be your sexual preferences or to live and work in a community that should be safeguarded against outside interests, importing coal and now fracking to keep an austerity hit country warm. To be honest the gays seem to have done better over the years[2] although amongst certain sections of an ignorant public and certain right wing political party's homophobia is still rife.  
Without LGSM and other support groups....

....the miners would have been starved out by the authorities.

Along with its great 80's soundtrack, which includes tracks by Billy Bragg, The Smiths, Frankie, Bronski Beat and The Pet Shop Boys reminding you that this period produced some great pop music, we have a terrific screenplay by actor turned playwright Stephen Beresford. Both 'sides' are well supported by some very well known actors. Besides Considine we have great performances from the magnificent Imelda Staunton, who played Hefina who died during the making of the film, and the magically understated Bill Nighy, along with Jessica Gunning, who plays Sian James who is now Labour MP for Swansea East, as well as Ben Schneter we have a wonderfully camp Dominic West who plays Jonathan Blake who was one of the first to be diagnosed with AIDS in the UK but has recently celebrated his 65th birthday, George MacKay, Joseph Gilgun and Andrew Scot supporting gay rights. Anyone with a social conscience and enjoys a dam good, well made film, will find Pride irresistible – but take a hanky! 

[1]The co-founder of LGSM Mark Aston died in 1987 of an AIDS related illness. He was 26 years old.

[2] In1985 the Labour Party conference there was a motion to support equal rights for gay men and lesbians. It was carried due to a block vote from the miners Union that ultimately lead to civil partnerships and marriages. From being a criminal offence to legitimacy in a relative short time – for the UK! 

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